'America's Got Talent' opera singer overcomes Stage 4 cancer

America's Got Talent opera singer overcomes Stage 4 cancer

By Melissa Wilson, Anchor & Health Reporter
Jan 16, 2013

A woman from the Houston area has quite a journey to share. You may recognize her from the national talent competition "America's Got Talent" on NBC. Soprano Barbara Padilla's intriguing story begins way before that.

Padilla met with FOX 26 News at the Houston Galleria, where she was being honored for her work with the group Cancer Forward.

When Barbara was 23, she began to suffer mild symptoms and just didn't feel good. She felt extremely tired.

"Then, I started feeling lumps in my neck. The doctor said, that's not right," exclaims Padilla. She couldn't believe the results.

"Stage 4 Hodgkin's Disease - Lymphoma. It was cancer," explains Padilla. "I didn't know I was going to fight it for five years, and that it was going to be as hard as it was."

Padilla moved to Houston from her hometown in Mexico to undergo cancer treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Just a few hours after doctors informed her she needed a bone marrow transplant, she auditioned for the music program at the University of Houston!

"The Director, Peter Jacoby, offered me a full scholarship to study at the University of Houston. That was awesome to get a new reason to keep fighting," says a smiling Padilla.

Doctors soon realized that Barbara's bone marrow was already too damaged for a bone marrow transplant, so they decided she should undergo radiation.

"The doctors told me, 'We're going to give you radiation in the neck area, but you won't sing again.'"

What a tough decision to have to make. She ended up choosing life over song and ended up getting both. She beat the odds.

"God had other plans, and my vocal cords were never affected. I went through the radiation and not even one day did I lose my voice," explains Padilla. She learned to keep her mother's faith near her heart.

Padilla says she was hoping to be healed forever from cancer. Unfortunately, it returned and she would have to undergo that bone marrow transplant to save her life.

"I said, this is it. This is too much! What am I doing here? Who am I kidding," says Padilla. She says she was lying in a hospital bed and ready to walk out, go back home to Mexico, and just let time take her. She didn't think she could undergo any more medical treatments. She was exhausted. Her friends refused to let her go.

One of her dearest friends planned an elaborate dinner party for her, when she got out of the hospital.

"All of my friends were there and she said, I wrote you a song. She played it and it's a song that says, if you want to give up now - don't! Don't make any decisions right now. Just let time go by, and you'll realize that life is a dream and one day you will triumph, so how do you give up with that? It really gave me a boost," exclaims Padilla.

It gave Padilla such a boost, she agreed to the bone marrow transplant and healed from it in record time. She ended up graduating with a Master's Degree from Moore's School of Music at U of H, and went on to become the RUNNER UP on the talent show, America's Got Talent.

Her friend's song ended up giving her the strength to let her others hear her own songs.

We met up with Barbara at Sak's in the Galleria Mall, where she was about to be honored for her work and dedication to the group, Cancer Forward. They asked her to share a quote that meant the most to her. Here it is: "At the end of my journey, the last day of my life, I want to say - I did what I could, and not I could've done more." A beautiful quote from a lovely lady.

Barbara's first album is coming out this year. The last time we spoke with her, she was considering the title "Viviendo", which means "living" in Spanish.

Barbara continues to spread her positive message through numerous organizations, including M.D. Anderson. She has gotten to record at Capital Records and sing with orchestras around the world.

She's working on her web site right now, but you can visit her Facebook fan page.


Barbara Padilla Music