Giovanni Goodman “TheChemo Kid”

California emcee Chemo Kid may not have earned his stripes at lunchroom battles or concert stages. But as a cancer survivor who pushed mixtapes from his hospital bed, his tale of struggle and perseverance is as inspiring as any rapper’s rags-to-riches story.

Chemo Kid grew up in Queens, NYC with a musically-inclined family. Both of his parents were the children of musicians, while his mother played clarinet and his father was a dedicated jazz aficionado who led music appreciation nights with the family every Friday. But Chemo Kid’s mother battled alcoholism, forcing his sister to serve as a mother figure by bathing him and clothing him while their dad was at work.

“My mother was an alcoholic, but she was a disciplinary, and I learned a lot from her,” Chemo Kid says. “How to be a strong person and how to be a leader and not a follower.”

These traits would become essential in 2005, when the then 21-year-old was diagnosed with cancer. For the next two years, he would earn his moniker through chemotherapy, a intense treatment method that uses chemicals to destroy cancerous cells. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (a rare cancer). Battling off and on with the disease for the past four years, he endured countless treatments of Chemotherapy, Spinal Taps, Bone Marrow Biopsies and several other tests. Late summer of 2006, he underwent an “Auto Bone Marrow Transplant” that would hold off the cancer for several months, but not catch it. The Chemo Kid once again went through a series of therapies and surgeries throughout 2007-2008, while waiting to receive a “Donor Bone Marrow Transplant”. Being half African-American and half Italian-American, chances of a donor were slim, but thankfully, he had his sister, Gabriella Goodman, as a perfect match. During the last stages of testing, The Chemo Kid and his family were hit with another devastating blow, discovering his sister’s test showed she also had a rare bone cancer called Multiple Myloma. Now this time not only he, but also his sister, had to suck it up and face the disease without fear. Luckily, there was a perfect match for The Chemo Kid and he underwent the transplant, but unfortunately the transplant did not help either and he is currently fighting for his life against what are seemingly insurmountable odds.

Chemo Kid initially wrote about the war in Afghanistan, but he began penning rhymes in 2007 with a light-hearted topic: text messaging. “I started the song as a joke, the same way that a Soulja Boy would. I performed the song in Davis, Calif. at a club, and by the end of the night, everyone there is just singing ‘Text me, homie, text me,’” he remembers. “I thought, ‘Man, maybe I should go to the studio and actually write this!”

Downloads of “Text Me,” which Chemo Kid recorded over The Luniz’ “I Got 5 On It” instrumental, began to soar and climbed over 4,000 plays on his MySpace page over the next few months. He switched up with “My Life Story,” which saw him using the soulful backdrop of Jay-Z’s “Dear Summer” to rhyme about his upbringing, his health condition, and his gratefulness to friends and family who remained loyal throughout adversity. After that song garnered 40,000 plays and boosted his friend count to 20,000, he decided to make a full project.

“One purpose (for the mixtape) was that if the music turned out good, I could get signed and get a nice check to put my two nieces through college and take care of my family,” he admits. “But the main goal was that if I passed away during my bone marrow transplant, my nieces have something to go back to and say, ‘That’s my uncle’s voice.’”

He ended up reaching a lot more than that. The same way many un-established artists sell their CDs from their car trunks, Chemo Kid individually burned copies of his Survivor’s Ambition mixtape on his laptop, before sending them out with t-shirts—all while laying in a hospital bed. He mailed out hundreds of copies every month.

“I was sending out these mixtapes during a very bad time for me. I had a bloody mouth, I’m throwing up. I’m going through skin problems, vision problems, and appetite problems—I lost 80 pounds,” Chemo Kid says. “But the feeling was so strong, because of the reason I was doing it and because I was getting such strong responses. People were writing me, saying, ‘I may not like the music, but I respect what you stand for.’ Others were saying, ‘This is what I go through everyday, but I don’t have the outlook that you have, and you keep me pushing.’”

Chemo Kid would later drop his album, The Chemical Chronicles, which would garner more MySpace love and radio spins for his song “A Perfect Day,” and media coverage from ABC News and other outlets soon followed.

“The beauty about it is that when I first started, my music was just about the struggle of a cancer patient,” Chemo Kid says. “But it’s a placebo affect. The cancer caused financial issues, and other struggles that most people can feel. ”

Trying to get his message of hope out to the masses, The Chemo Kid plans to bring his “real” music across the globe. The main point that he stresses is never let anything hold you back from your dreams. “The Chemo Kid… It’s not a stage name, or a gimmick… It’s my life”!