Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Survival Tales

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Survival Tales

Article excerpt

Boonton resident Bella D was in the midst of finishing her debut album about a character finding strength to persevere through danger when the hard rock singer suddenly found herself waging a scary, real-life battle.

"My breast cancer diagnosis came last January [2015]," Bella D (Christie Oakes) said by phone. "Luckily, I found the lump myself and was able to catch it early. Physically and emotionally I went to hell and back."

Bella D was diagnosed at age 36 with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She underwent five months of chemotherapy treatments followed by a double mastectomy; the cancer is now in remission.

Following her recovery, Bella D put the final touches on her album, "The Crystal Ceiling." The disc was released on Friday, and Bella D will perform at a record release party Thursday in Manhattan. She noted that her final chemotherapy treatment was last May.

"It's wonderful the album is coming out the same month as my last dose of chemo," she said. "It's like the culmination of everything I went through over the last year, and the album [written before her diagnosis] is about survival and fighting and trying to get through life. It's been very surreal."

Bella D said she feels that "The Crystal Ceiling's" themes, and past moments in her life, are more than coincidental. Her older sister, Tiffany, died of stomach cancer in 2009 at age 36, the same age at which Bella D was diagnosed with breast cancer. She added that she thought of the concept for "The Crystal Ceiling" the day of her sister's memorial.

"When I found the lump I kept hearing my sister's voice on repeat: Go to the doctor, go to the doctor," she said. "Crystal Ceiling" lyrics like "I was in hell but I kept going, can't stop me I won't lose," from the track "Invincible," became an immediate source of inspiration.

"The album means so much more to me now," she said. "It meant the world to me before, but it has a huge place in my soul now. What I went through will affect how I perform it, and that's good, because music should grow past the recording itself."

Bella D co-wrote "The Crystal Ceiling" with Charlie Zeleny, an old friend and well-known session drummer who also produced the disc and wrote its music. …

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