Vibe With: SurTHRIVER™ Lyndsay Levingston
Written by Nakia Cooper on January 1, 2021
Sometimes you hear a story so powerful, that you immediately attach an anthem to it, and one read of Lyndsay Levingston’s story, and Destiny’s Child’s 2001 chart topper immediately becomes the anthem on auto replay in your mind…with a little twist. “I’m a SurTHRIVER!”
“I desire to do work that’s purposeful and means something,” Levingston told Vibe Houston.
While grateful where she’s at today, her journey was unexpected – and filled with fear.
Summer 2019 is a season Levingston will never forget. On a normal day, doing a normal routine – showering – she felt something abnormal: a lump in her right breast.
After numerous screenings including mammograms, an ultrasound, and a biopsy of the grape-sized mass, a doctor confirmed her worst fears, she had cancer. Stage 2B breast cancer to be exact.
And just like that, Levingston became an automatic member of the “sisterhood” of women fighting for their lives.
What was her next step? Go home to be surrounded with the love she needed.
Levingston seemed to have had it all: young, gifted, Black, beautiful and ambitious. And chasing her dreams in the Big Apple.
“I stepped out on faith and moved to New York City. I spent eight years hustling and grinding in public relations and television news/media. When I was diagnosed, that was God’s signal to me it was time to head back home to prioritize my health and well-being,” she shared.
The multimedia expert, host and educator packed up and returned to Houston to begin treatment. She underwent more than a dozen rounds of chemotherapy, and on Dec. 30, Levingston “rang the bell” of victory.
Afterward, she had a bilateral mastectomy, reconstructive breast surgery. On Valentine’s Day 2020, she received a “gift of love” from her doctor: a phone call letting her know she was in remission.
In October 2020, she took an extra preventative step of having her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. This due to her BRCA 1 gene mutation, which puts her at higher risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
Some would have possibly felt this chapter of their life was closed, but God kept tugging at Levingston’s soul, telling her the journey was not yet complete. Her most powerful tool – her voice – was needed to serve others.
From there, SurTHRIVER™ was born.
“My media career came to a screeching halt after being diagnosed with breast cancer, then COVID-19 happened. I had to figure out a way to make a purposeful pivot in my career, reinvent myself and allow my testimony to help others. I didn’t realize how many women were out there suffering in silence,” she said. “The work that I do through SurTHRIVER™ is to inform, inspire and empower women around breast cancer awareness. The more you know about your body, the more you can be proactive to maintain a healthy lifestyle and maintain your health.”
We asked Levingston to share a little more of what she’s learned in her journey.
Q: What advice do you have to give to women with limited health resources?
A: There are so many resources out there available to women. Through a simple google search, you can find them, don’t think they are not out there. I recently partnered with a nonprofit based in Brooklyn called “AfroPink” and on Giving Tuesday, we raised money so that we can support underserved women to get mammograms. We call them “mammogrants.”
And it just so happens that the American Breast Cancer Foundation is hosting a 5,000 mammogram campaign. The foundation’s goal is to raise a million dollars to pay for 5,000 mammograms. I say all that to say there are foundations that support women of color, and women in underserved communities who will help pay for the services they need.
Q: May we ask, what type of healthcare coverage did you have when diagnosed?
A: When I was first diagnosed, I will be honest, I did not have commercial healthcare. I had a health share plan, which is very inexpensive because I just thought I was not going to get sick and I just needed some basic or bare minimum coverage. Well, I had to up the ante and transition to insurance that would cover chemotherapy which, out of pocket, is like half a million dollars. Like who has half a million dollars laying around? So insurance is so important. I refer women to seek resources via Healthcare.gov as the Marketplace offers affordable plans.
Q: What advice can you give to everyone on how to ‘surthrive’ this pandemic?
A: Find something that you are passionate about and pour your heart and soul into it. Try to stay busy and do “purposeful” work. For people who are believers, lean on your Faith and stay prayed up.
Q: How excited are you about your new journey?
A: My first idea was just to do IG Live, but no, God gave me a larger vision. I launched SurTHRIVER™ on October 1 and let me tell you, from the moment I stepped out on stage and just went for it, God said ‘I got you’ and it went full force. I did not share anything during treatment. I waited until I was done with my bilateral and then I was ready to rock and roll. Next thing I knew, I am launching a podcast in my hometown through KTSU, which is the largest community media platform. That’s all God!”
The Vibe, powered by KTSU 90.9FM, launched Fall 2020, introducing the evolving sound at KTSU and, beginning January 14, 2021, the station will proudly launch SurTHRIVER™, a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Lyndsay Levingston.
SurTHRIVER™ will engage a range of experts, medical professionals, community leaders, surthrivers and celebrity guests including television host and breast cancer survivor Ananda Lewis and one of the world’s leading music and entertainment executives and breast cancer survivor Mathew Knowles. Relevant topics include:
● Self-care: beauty, fashion, hair/wigs, food/nutrition and fitness
● Science: plastic surgery, oncology, research, fertility and genetics
● Surviving after survival: sexual health, financial planning, psychology and support groups
For more information and episodes of the SurTHRIVER™ podcast, content will be available via The Vibe mobile application. www.vibehouston.com, www.ktsuradio.com and cross-promoted via SurTHRIVER™ platforms on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
ABOUT LYNDSAY LEVINGSTON
Lyndsay Levingston is a multimedia expert, host, television talent, contributor and educator. She has appeared on and contributed to NY 1 News, New York’s Verizon Fios1 News, NJTV News (PBS), BOLD TV, NBC Houston, FOX Houston, NTV Houston and FOX Tulsa in various capacities as anchor, host, reporter and producer. Lyndsay serves Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media as an adjunct professor teaching writing for various media platforms. She lends her talents to various community, corporate and social engagements as host, moderator and speaker. Lyndsay graduated with honors from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®.