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Las Vegas musician stays positive while battling brain cancer

Stephen Rezza
Stephen Rezza
Stephen Rezza

Life doesn't always go the way we want to; that goes for everybody on the planet, everybody in Las Vegas. But sometimes the curves thrown your way are pretty unimaginable.

In 2016, Stephen Rezza was deeply in love with his girlfriend, Christina Grimmie. Her star was rising fast in the music world after her appearance on the TV show "The Voice." But then an obsessed fan killed her and himself after her performance in Florida.

Rezza worked through some of his grief through his music, and then he dealt with more: he was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer.

He recently joined State of Nevada host Joe Schoenmann to share some of the stories behind his music, and how he's fought and managed to stay optimistic.

He started as a musician in New York, playing drums for a Haitian dance group. From there, he moved to Los Angeles and joined a nationally-touring metal band. He now lives in Las Vegas.

On using Christina's voice

Over the years, I've made several songs with her voice as an instrument, you know, like chopping her voice up and using it as big pieces of the song. So this was the first song that I've kind of put out ("Hard Mode") at the family's blessing to release as a single of my own, just to kind of express a piece of what I've gone through it.

On cancer

I don't know if you're familiar with glioblastoma. That's what I was diagnosed with in March of 2019. I had to get awake craniotomy for hours long. Basically, I was wide awake during brain surgery, [by] one of the best brain surgeons in America. Thank God, [he] saved my life and allowed me to get more borrowed time. So here I am. If it wasn't for him, my right side wouldn't be operable, I probably wouldn't be able to speak things, language or, you know, play music, playing guitar while I was in the operating room. And it was quite a miracle thanks to him.

On his song "Losing My Mind"

This one is just about the battle of, the constant struggle of having some sort of brain cancer or having some sort of terminal illness, for me personally. But for a lot of people, there's a lot of people with mental health, who are out there that constantly feel like they're losing their mind. For me, I wake up every morning, and sometimes I don't feel like I'm there. You know, sometimes I wake up and I feel like, I don't even know where I am because of my seizures, because of my attacks. But I know straight up, there's a bunch of kids out there who are going through mental health consistently, and some of my fans, they hit me up and they're just like, 'Thank you for releasing this, because I feel like I'm just consistently losing my mind.' So this is another one that shows up for, you know, self interpretation.

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Kristen Kidman is a former senior producer at KNPR’s State of Nevada and is proud to be from Las Vegas.