Radio is Chanelle Scott’s first love.
Radio moves her body to hip-hop, neo-soul and EDM. And radio challenges her heart and head through discussions about the most pressing social issues of the day. Like race. And poverty. And living-wage jobs.
For a lifelong New Yorker like Chanelle, no one brings radio alive like local journalist Lisa Evers. A general assignment report for the Fox News affiliate in New York City, Evers also hosts a highly rated weekly public affairs program, “Street Soldiers,” on Hot97 radio. And Chanelle is an avid listener.
“Lisa Evers,” Chanelle enunciates the name slowly and with reverence. “Oh, she’s my girl. She’s my role model. She talks about real issues, real situations. She makes a difference. Lisa Evers reaches young people with her voice. And that’s what I want to do, too.
“I want to help lead discussions about what’s going on in the world,” Chanelle continues. “Why are police and African-Americans having so many problems? Why are young people having so much sex so young? What are we doing about global warming? Radio is a great place to have those discussions.”
With nine months remaining before her graduation from the College of Staten Island in New York City, 28-year-old Chanelle finally sees her dream career in radio within her grasp. But if not for Chanelle’s perseverance and strong faith, she may well have given up.
Eleven years ago, while still in high school, a tumor was discovered in Chanelle’s brain. “My doctors thought it was cancer,” she says. “Then I went off to Memorial Sloan Kettering and they said, ‘No, it was an astrocytoma, a non-cancerous tumor.’”
Chanelle’s symptoms were manageable. So her neurologists recommended that they watch her tumor and wait. In 2006, sudden seizures and incapacitating headaches forced Chanelle to withdraw from college during her first semester.
“Bad, throbbing headaches,” Chanelle remembers. “Like a 10 [on the pain scale]. It was not like you could take an aspirin and it would go away. You can’t sit in a college class with an excruciating headache while you are trying to learn science and math.”
Chanelle postponed her college education while neurologists continued to monitor her condition. “When the tumor started to grow, my doctors said we had to do surgery,” Chanelle recalls. In March 2007, surgeons at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center removed the tumor from her brain. “It took me six months to recover, and I went back to school that fall,” she says.
Despite sensing that her body and mind were moving “a little slower,” Chanelle dove into her studies. “I took on way too many classes when I went back,” Chanelle admits. “I stayed in school, but I had to withdraw from two classes.”
Taking on a much smaller, less intensive course load, Chanelle paced herself to try to complete her communications degree in seven or eight years instead of the usual four. Unfortunately, severe seizures and headaches returned in late 2012.
Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering found the tumor had returned. They operated again on the same part of Chanelle’s brain. “It took me a really long time to get back to normal,” she says. She returned to college in September 2013 and resumed a partial class load.
Clear signs of the tumor’s return hit Chanelle in early 2015. The thought of a long and arduous recovery from a third brain surgery was out of the question, Chanelle says.
Her doctors recommended an alternative course — proton therapy at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Somerset, New Jersey. Located about 45 minutes from Chanelle’s Staten Island home, ProCure Proton Therapy is an affiliate treatment provider for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Chanelle ended nearly three months of proton treatments in May 2015. The headaches and seizures have stopped. And her prognosis is good, she says. Chanelle is scheduled for an MRI in September to determine if the tumor is gone — hopefully for good.
But she’s not waiting. She’s starting classes again at the College of Staten Island.
“I want my degree,” says Chanelle. “I came from hard places and hard times. And we were always told, ‘Get your education and make a difference in the world.’ And that’s what I am going to do.”
Chanelle is exploring opportunities for her senior year internship to start in January 2016. Completing it will assure her graduation in May.
Lisa Evers, if you’re reading this, we have a tremendous intern candidate for you. She’s got perseverance, intelligence and heart. Her name is Chanelle Scott.