Sunderland singer who battled cancer will appear on The Voice

Melissa Cavanagh on this Saturday's The Voice
Melissa Cavanagh on this Saturday's The Voice
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A Sunderland singer who battled back from cancer to chase her dreams will perform for a star-studded panel on The Voice UK.

Melissa Cavanagh, 25, from Ashbrooke, will be out to impress Boy George, Paloma Faith, Will.i.am and Ricky Wilson when she sings Blame by Calvin Harris, featuring John Newman, on the BBC talent show on Saturday.

The singing contest returned to screens last weekend with a new line-up of coaches, and Melissa will be hoping to make it through the blind auditions stage, where the panel will judge her purely on her voice.

Achieving her moment in the spotlight has been a long journey for Melissa who at the age of 13 was dealt a devastating blow when she was told she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare cancer that develops in the lymphatic system.

She juggled lessons at Thornhill School with eight months of chemotherapy, which led to her losing her hair. But her brush with death gave her a zest for life and gave her the confidence to pursue a career in singing.

Today she uses her talent to help give back to the Teenage Cancer Trust, performing at the charity’s concerts and sharing the stage with the likes of Paul Weller and Jools Holland. She also performed a charity single for the trust, Here We Stand, with Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall.

Melissa Cavanagh

Melissa Cavanagh

Her voice has also seen her win roles in musical theatre productions at Sunderland Empire and the Tyne Theatre and Opera House in Newcastle.

Last year, she celebrated being ten years cancer free and told the Echo: “The only thing I related to cancer at that age was old people and death, it’s not something you ever expect to be told at 13. I just didn’t think it happened to people of my age. I remember seeing my mam upset and I think that’s what upset me most.”

She added: “It’s taught me so much,” she said. “Not just because of my cancer, but the other children I met on the ward. One year I went to the funerals of four people under 20 who all died from the disease. It made me realise how very lucky I am, and how short life can be.”

Melissa follows in the footsteps of Olivia Lawson from Grindon who last year made it through to the knockout stages of The Voice under the tutelage of Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson.

Ricky Wilson, Will.i.am, Paloma Faith, Boy George - (C) Getty - Photographer: Dave Hogan

Ricky Wilson, Will.i.am, Paloma Faith, Boy George - (C) Getty - Photographer: Dave Hogan

Olivia’s audition, in which she sang Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, has since racked up more than five million views on YouTube.

•See Melissa’s audition on The Voice on BBC1 on Saturday at 7.45pm.

This weekend's The Voice with Will.i.am, Boy George, Paloma Faith, Ricky Wilson - (C) Wall To Wall - Photographer: Guy Levy

This weekend's The Voice with Will.i.am, Boy George, Paloma Faith, Ricky Wilson - (C) Wall To Wall - Photographer: Guy Levy