A central Ohio man who wrote a song to inspire cancer patients to stay strong in their battles against the disease is now using his music to help fund cancer research.
Earlier this year, Ceylon Wise of Pataskala was approached by Darlene Matthews about performing a song for the Komen Race for the Cure Survivors Celebration.
Not only did Matthews attend the same Faith Ministries Church as Wise on Columbus' northeast side, but she is a breast cancer survivor and was selected to preside as honorary chairwoman over the Race for the Cure event, held in May in Columbus.
Wise, 31, jumped at the chance to perform with the Faith Ministries Praise Team at the Survivors Celebration.
However, despite writing songs for the past 15 years, he didn't have anything in his catalog he believed would energize and inspire cancer patients and connect with the wide range of cultures, religions and ages that would be represented at the celebration.
Then it came to him, possibly from above, while mowing grass.
"As I was cutting grass, the chorus of the song just came to me," Wise said. "The rest of the song came after that, which tells me this was more of a gift to me than my own writing."
Wise said it took him about two days to complete We Are Survivors, a song he performed with the Faith Ministries praise team at the Survivors Celebration.
They have since recorded the song, and now Wise is donating 50 percent of all sales to a different cancer organization each month.
Throughout July, sales of the song will benefit the Stefanie Spielman Fund For Breast Cancer Research at Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.
In coming months, Wise has arranged for proceeds to go to cancer organizations in New Jersey and Philadelphia.
He is seeking to partner with individuals and businesses, which he hopes will purchase CD singles of the song and donate them to hospitals, mammography centers and other offices and organizations that treat and serve cancer patients so the song will go "directly to survivors," he said.
"The goal was to have a song that's inspiring, uplifting and encouraging for cancer survivors that also raises awareness and money for cancer research," Wise said. "I just want to keep it going."
A foremost message of We Are Survivors is courage. Its lyrics include the lines, "We are the ones who stand up tall/We are strong, we are loud/We are never backing down/We don't give up, we don't give in/We just keep fighting until we win."
"It makes me feel good," Wise said. "I believe that we are given gifts and talents to inspire and encourage other people and this is my attempt to do that."
Although he believes divine intervention brought him We Are Survivors, Wise also was inspired by his mother-in-law, Margaret Brooks, to whom he has dedicated the song.
Brooks survived colon cancer after a long battle, Wise said, but recently was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"Just seeing her and my wife, and by extension me and my family, go through the process of treatment and recovery opened my eyes to how important it is to raise awareness and money," Wise said.
We Are Survivors can be downloaded online, including at SurvivorSongs.org for 99 cents, and the CD single can be purchased for $3.
Additional information about the song or purchasing it is available at SurvivorSongs.org, or by calling Wise at 614-402-5456 or sending an email to ceylon firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research can be found at cancer.osu.edu.