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Jami Holbrook stands on the 50-yard line near the Cincinnati Bengals, backdropped by the soft blue October sky and a swirl of black and orange.
Wearing a purple t-shirt with the words “Crucial Catch Intercept Cancer,” she draws a breath and begins her vocal climb to the top of “O’er the land of the free.”
Two fighter jets rocket overhead, the terrifying boom meeting Jami’s crescendo as 65,000 cheers erupt. It’s football Sunday in America. And today means everything to Jami.
Years before she walked onto the Bengals field with a microphone in hand, Jami stepped into the fourth-floor lobby at the Kettering Health Cancer Center, guitar in hand. All because of an idea her coworkers had.
After working in Oncology for a few years, Jami had begun her role as a medication assistance counselor, helping cancer patients navigate complex finances and get the medication they need.
Being part of a patient’s cancer journey is where Jami feels she’s supposed to be. As a young girl, she watched her dad, Wes, survive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma—twice.
“I was younger than five when he was diagnosed. I remember going with him to treatment,” she says. “Looking back, I realize the impact the clinical staff had in his life.”
Jami’s love—and gift—of singing also began at a young age. “On Christmas, other families wind down with coffee and naps. Not my family. We would get out the karaoke machine.”
Throughout the years, Jami sang every chance she had. Today, she leads worship at her church. Though she’s not one to willingly speak to an audience, when she’s singing for a crowd of any size, Jami has never known fear.
“There’s no sense in being nervous about something when you know God has called you to do it,” she shares.
In the winter of 2017, her coworkers pitched the idea to her of singing Christmas carols in the lobby at the Cancer Center. Jami didn’t hesitate.
“It combined everything I love,” she says.
That Christmas season, as cancer patients walked in and waited for treatment, Jami filled the lobby with song, with lyrics of hope found in the darkest days.
Sharing hope through song
Walking out, then, to sing the National Anthem at a Bengals game dedicated to cancer patients and their families, Jami knew she was where she was supposed to be.
She lifted the mic, thought about her dad and the patients she’s served, and “did what I’m called to do”: she sang.