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SNL Alum Victoria Jackson Speaks Of Hope After Cancer

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Comedienne, on Saturday Night Live for 6 years

Has appeared on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show

Married: Paul, 25 years

Two grown daughters

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In 1992, Victoria reunited with her high school sweetheart, Paul, and got married.  She decided to take a hiatus from show biz to be a wife and mom in Miami, Florida.  When her daughters grew up, she and Paul followed them to Nashville.  On October 8, 2015, Victoria landed a stand-up comedy act at Zany’s in Nashville. While she was waiting in the green room, she started coughing so much that she could barely get through one sentence.  The next day Victoria stopped in a walk-in clinic to get checked out.  She casually showed the nurse a numb spot near her underarm.  He told her to go to Vanderbilt Breast Clinic immediately.  Test results showed she had stage three breast cancer.  “It had been growing inside of me for five to ten years,” says Victoria, who tried to remain hopeful with the diagnosis.  “I do not want this.  This is not good,” she said to herself.  “Darkness is pressing down on me.”  

Surgery showed the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.  She had a double mastectomy to cut out the cancer two weeks after her diagnosis.  Chemotherapy started a month after that. She counted down the number of treatments and wrote the number on the palm of her hand.   “Jesus carried me and my husband,” says Victoria.  “I kept quoting Psalm 23.”  To keep her spirits up, Victoria listened to worship music.  “I look back and it wasn’t that hard,” she says.  “Sometimes I was weak. Sometimes I was bald.”  When her hair fell out, Victoria tried different wigs including a Raggedy Ann wig, a blonde wig and a hot pink one.  Once she wore the Raggedy Ann wig to the doctor’s office.  “I wasn’t happy about this cancer thing,” she says.  “But I believe God works for my good and the Bible is true and this life is short even if you live to one hundred!” After her hair grew back, Victoria says it came in gray.  “I was thrilled to have hair,” she says.  “But it was gray!”  At her birthday party celebration, one of Victoria’s friends said, “It’s not gray; it’s lavender!”  Her friend's attempt at making her feel better and her husband's postiive reaction inspired Victoria to write a song, “Lavender Hair.”  

Victoria was raised in a Christian home. Her dad, a gymnastics coach, was a Baptist deacon in Miami.  He taught Victoria to study the Bible.  He also taught her to do handstands!  Victoria went to Bible college at 16 then went to college in South Carolina on a gymnastics scholarship.  She found her passion when she stumbled onto her first play then left for Auburn University to pursue a major in theater.  At 19 she went to Hollywood to be in Johnny Crawford’s (The Rifleman) nightclub act.  In 1983, a talent scout for Johnny Carson offered her an audition to be on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.  She was on for six years.

“My hope is that my story would encourage people who have cancer,” says Victoria.  “Cancer is not the end of the world.”  As a Christian, Victoria reminds us that having a cancer diagnosis is actually a win/win.  “The Bible tells us, For me to live is Christ, to die is gain,” says Victoria.  “In tragedy, He makes beauty out of ashes.  I’ve known that since I was a child.” Romans 8:28.

In 2016, when she was finished with chemo, Victoria landed a part in a Christian movie called Andy’s Rainbow.  “My arms had never been flabbier.  My self-confidence has never been this low,” she says.  “God gave me a movie role during all of this.  Isn’t God amazing?”  The filming took place in Indiana where the mood was peaceful and joyful.  “Unlike Los Angeles and New York,” she says.  During her performances, Victoria attacks the topic of cancer and death.  The cancer experience, or what she calls the cancer monster, gave Victoria a fresh attitude and enthusiasm for life.  “I know that God determines when and if I will die,” says Victoria.  “Cancer rearranged my priorities a bit; cancer is not at the top, Jesus is, staying healthy second, marriage next and then seeking God’s will, one day at a time.” She has been cancer free for two years.

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