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Cancer survivor inspires others through music

January 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Charlie Lustman used to own Los Angeles' Silent Movie Theatre. But in 2006, when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma - bone cancer in his jaw - he had to sell it.

He now sings about his survival. Lustman has a "lust" for life, and he wasn't about to let cancer take that away despite almost a year of intense treatment.

"They have to saw off my jaw and give me chemotherapy for a year - 22 rounds of chemo. That was a pretty rough ride," Lustman said.

But halfway through his fight to stay alive, he came up with a plan to thrive.

"I started writing. I started writing a song and because it's Hollywood, I get to put a happy ending and survive," he said.

Lustman has taken his musical message around the world twice, playing at cancer centers and in theatres. He does not hold back on what he's been through.

"What's stopping you in your life? Here I am with a prosthetic jaw, and I'm singing for you, and that's the message I bring into the cancer centers," he said.

When he takes his message into theatres, it's a one-man pop opera he calls "Made Me Nuclear."

"I sing songs like 'Chemo Brain' about forgetting things because you've done chemotherapy, and everyone's laughing. By the time I leave the center, there's an entirely different energy happening," Lustman said.

Lustman has a wife, three kids and a strong will to live, using music to strike a chord wherever he may wander.

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