In the mid-2000s, Bershan Shaw was a thriving young woman living in New York City, pursuing her dream of being an actress. In between her acting gigs and full-time job as a bartender, the ambitious 30-something even found time to open her own restaurant and bar in midtown Manhattan. Life was busy and full. Then, everything came to a halt.
At age 33, Bershan was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though devastated, she was determined to fight.
"I didn't want to be 'the sick girl' at 33," she says. "I didn't want to be the girl who needed sympathy and empathy."
Bershan opted for radiation and seemed to respond well to the treatment. But two years after that initial diagnosis -- just weeks before her wedding -- Bershan learned that her cancer had returned.
It was stage four, the doctors said. She was given three months to live.
"I was literally praying every day, 'Please don't take my life, God. Please. This is not my time,'" Bershan says.
That was five years ago. Today, Bershan is cancer-free with no evidence of the disease. Since her diagnosis, the "Love in the City" star has been on a mission to change lives, creating an online community of "warriors" who support each other through tough times. During an art event for this URAWarrior organization, Bershan opens up about her breast cancer battle and how art helped heal her.
"During that time, I was going to museums every day, looking at artists, looking at their struggle," she says. "I connected with the artists."
Eager to give back to the art community, Bershan announces that this URAWarrior project will happen every three months and invites the various artists to stand up and share their own remarkable stories of survival. In the video, the artists open up about what they have overcome. Like Bershan, they each found comfort and strength in art.
"Art really does heal us," Bershan says. "I want this to be a movement. Don't be afraid, stand up... You are a warrior."