Teen Tumor Survivor Finds Comfort In Power Of Music


Emily Tantuccio felt out of touch and unlike her peers after being diagnosed with breast tumors at age 19, but a popular music festival gave her the chance to feel like just everyone else.

In an essay penned for MTV.com, Tantuccio recalled feeling constantly sick and weak and during her first semester of college. She was initially diagnosed with chronic sinus infections and enlarged tonsils, but doctors discovered a lump under her right arm just as she was being cleared for a tonsillectomy. A radiologist scan confirmed that Tartuccio had breast tumors and would need surgery, leaving her to mourn the life she had mapped out for herself.

“I felt impossibly small and defeated, like I had been stripped of the right to make my own decisions. My body had made them for me, and a medical staff reviewed them in the same tone I’d imagined they’d used while discussing the morning commute or last night’s game,” she wrote. “I couldn’t really blame them — this was just another day at the office for them. But for me, it was the beginning of a personal war that was far too painful to deal with right before starting my second semester of college.”

After her surgery, she eventually scrolled through Twitter one night and found a post from musical festival Vans Warped Tour about the Living Dream Foundation. They were asking for submissions from fans with life-threatening illnesses to share their story in the chance of winning a VIP Dream Day at a Warped Tour stop. Tantuccio sent hers in and was selected within days for the Dream Day at a Warped Tour stop in New Jersey.

She was overjoyed at getting to go backstage and meet some of her favorite musicians, in addition to getting to go up on stage with The Used. But perhaps most importantly, she was relieved to not be thinking about her illness.

“I felt like I had been given the chance to just be a kid in love with music for a day,” wrote Tantuccio. “In the past, I always had to worry about my health and could never fully enjoy the shows. I was shocked that my VIP Dream Day actually managed to provide me with a temporary escape from the stress and exhaustion that had built up over the spring. That feeling of peace meant more to me than anything.”


Tantuccio was even invited by the Living Dream Foundation to offer the same special day for another fan in NYC. The experience taught her that by being of service to others and getting outside of her own thoughts, she was able to make a positive impact on her own recovery.


“I have learned that sometimes the best way to confront pain is to use it to help others deal with their own,” she wrote. “I strongly encourage anyone feeling as lost as I did to seek out opportunities to help others who are facing demons similar to yours. You might be surprised by how much peace you find within yourself by helping others to find their own. We are not our burdens or what happens to us — but we are definitely wiser and stronger for it.”