In 2013, Sharon Jones was forced to take a hiatus from performing after she was diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer. A new documentary, Miss Sharon Jones!, by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple, follows Jones in the first seven months following her diagnosis.
Jones says that while extensive surgery and chemotherapy took a lot out of her, her desire to make music never faltered. After finishing chemo, recovering from the surgery and getting clean scans, she returned to the stage with The Dap-Kings in 2014.
The cancer has since returned, but Jones wants to continue making music. “This cancer is here, and I have to take the chemo,” she says, “but I want to perform. I just want to be able to get onstage and move.”
I had a February date, and my goal was to be back at that date. And everything in the filming, there’s a scene with the church scene, that was my first time even attempting to sing after months. And that’s when I knew, from the church scene, that I was ready. I was going to be ready for February. I knew I was going to have the strength. I knew that sickness wasn’t unto to death.
I thought I was going to die maybe a couple of hours after the doctor hit me with everything. You know, you go through that. So for a couple of hours I was on my deathbed. But other than that, I overcame that. Doing the film was also my therapy, and I knew that it would help someone out there with cancer, or going through it, as long as I inspired someone. That’s where my health came from, my energy came from, knowing my fans was out there and I’m getting back to them, and I wanted them to see what I’m going through.