Friday 28th June 2019
I'm so lucky to have music in my life.
Many people might feel the same way about music as Holly, a singer songwriter from Bristol who performs under the name Holysseus Fly. But for Holly, the connection has been an important part of her journey through breast cancer treatment.
"Being able to express through music has helped me while I've been going through treatment," says Holly, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2019. Throughout her treatment, Holly's had the support of a Teenage Cancer Trust nurse with both the emotional and practical sides of treatment.
Holly has approached treatment with her own creative flair. "I've been putting on glitter every time I go in for chemo, which I call my 'dragon transformation'," she says. "It's like I'm going through a training programme to become as strong and fearless as a dragon. I'll be closer to becoming a complete dragon once I've finished treatment!"
I always put on glitter and my shiniest, comfiest clothes for chemo and walk in there like I'm going to a party. It just makes me feel so much more fierce!
Music has been a constant throughout her treatment and Holly has been drawing on her experience for new solo material 'but I'm still deep in it at the moment, in the process of healing - physically, emotionally and spiritually - so I won't be performing that music just yet'. Outside of her solo work, Holly performs with Ishmael Ensemble, whose A State of Flow was recently named as the Guardian's contemporary album of the month.
"It's just such a feeling of release and strength, standing there having people listen and watch me as a musician dealing with something so huge," says Holly. "I can stand there with my bald head and feel proud of how far I've come. I don't wear a wig at gigs because I feel really proud of what I'm going through, and that I'm able to do these wonderful gigs at the same time."
This Sunday, Ishmael Ensemble will be taking to the Croissant Neuf stage at Glastonbury... and Holly will be there alongside them!
"The opportunity came up a while ago and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do it but luckily it's fallen at the perfect time during my chemo schedule so I'm in my best physical state," explains Holly. "I'm just over the moon and so proud to be doing this whilst I'm going through treatment at the same time."
I can't wait to stand up there with my bald head and just lay out my gifts. I've worked so hard to love myself throughout this process, love myself whatever state I'm in or what I'm able to do, but this is an incredible opportunity.