Miss Nikki Stands Up to Breast Cancer
With Stand-Up Comedy
by Bill Ligas | October 10, 2016
When Veronique “Miss Nikki” received a stage 3 cancer diagnosis in 2010, it changed her life—but not in the way you might expect. She decided to become a stand-up comic, believing if she could make herself and others laugh in the face of her obstacles she could overcome her difficult diagnosis and help others face their own struggles.
The only problem was that Miss Nikki had never performed stand-up before. Her first show at Joe’s on Weed Street in Chicago, just six months after her diagnosis, was an adventure for her and the audience. Despite initial nerves, Miss Nikki had the audience laughing hysterically at her unique brand of humor that highlights her cancer battle.
“I was excited to draw laughs from the crowd, but what was really amazing was how people responded after the show,” she said. “I talked to many people who had cancer scares, went through treatment or were still being treated. They opened up and told me their stories. Many women even said that they were going to schedule a mammogram.”
The overwhelmingly positive reaction she received at her first few shows confirmed that she wanted to continue to pursue a comedy career as therapy for herself and others. In addition to entertaining, Miss Nikki uses her stand-up act to convey key messages about the importance of breast cancer detection, treatment and having a positive attitude. She feels everyone should take the time to learn about their disease and be active participants in their own treatment.
“Everyone should take the time to ask their doctor any questions they might have or get any explanation needed,” she said. “Your doctor is there for you so make sure you ask any and all questions you might have.”
As Her Battle Continues, so Does Her Comedy Career
From the point of her initial diagnosis in 2010, Miss Nikki has battled cancer in partnership with Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Center for Advanced Therapy. Throughout this time she has had several surgeries and chemotherapy rounds, taken a study drug and completed a course of radiation. She went into remission in 2011.
Unfortunately, the cancer returned, but so did Nikki’s fighting spirit. She continues to remain positive. Despite the limitations of her illness, Miss Nikki has performed regularly in venues throughout Chicago and the Midwest and appeared in TV’s Empire and Spike Lee’s Chicago film Chiraq. She also hosts a weekly I Heart Radio show called LOL with Miss Nikki.
Miss Nikki learned that the Integrated Cancer Care program at Swedish Covenant Hospital treats people at every stage of cancer and works with individuals to develop a personalized care plan and the personal attention every patient deserves. “Dr. Imam [oncologist with Swedish Covenant Medical Group] is excellent,” she said. “He really listens. He has even worked around my touring schedule when planning treatment. The nursing staff and everyone at the Center for Advanced Therapy is great, too. They even have a pretty good sense of humor!”
The cancer center staff are fans of Miss Nikki too. “She is a great example of someone who brings a smile to everyone when she’s here and who has become a strong advocate for cancer screenings such as mammograms which is an important message to share,” said Cancer Program Manager Elizabeth Miniscalco, RN, BSN, OCN.
Miss Nikki was recently selected as one of only 100 Ford Models of Courage nationally to continue to motivate, inspire and support other cancer survivors. The Illinois Ford Models contingent of 10 inspiring individuals meets monthly and works regularly to support the community.
“Our 2016 motto is ‘More Better Days’ and I look forward to sharing this message of hope and bringing laughter to others along the way,” she said. “I want to beat cancer again and I’d also love to perform for our troops overseas. I grew up watching comedian Bob Hope perform for the troops and it would be a dream come true to do just that someday.”
Javed Imam, M.D.
, is a board-certified oncologist with Swedish Covenant Medical Group. His specialties include hematology with clinical interest in anemia, blood disorders and diseases, chemotherapy, colon cancer, lung cancer, lymphedema and pain management. He has more than 20 years of experience.
To learn more about the Center for Advanced Therapy
or to schedule an appointment, please call 773-989-3803.