Teen who turned to music during chemotherapy DJs as holiday season begins

Posted at 9:56 PM, Nov 29, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY -- At a time of year when we’re all asking for something, it sometimes just takes someone to remind us to give.

“Mostly it can help people be happier and get them through hard times,” said Cesar Navarro.

Alongside the hundreds of people skating and awaiting the holiday lights at the Gallivan Center on Friday was a 13-year-old boy, who has made this season sound a little different.

“I like hip hop, dub step and electric house,” Cesar said.

He volunteered to spin the music for everyone at the annual tree lighting ceremony, sharing a gift he unexpectedly found about one year ago.

“That’s actually what got him through his treatment is he was always dancing, always listening to music,” said Yvonne Navarro, Cesar’s mother.

It was last October when her son was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“We all broke down crying,” Navarro said. “And then immediately me and my husband both said, ‘Ok, this is what we have. Let’s deal with it. Let’s not focus on pity me. Let’s get better and fight.’”

It was somewhere along a fight filled with chemotherapy and radiation that Cesar began to heal with the help of songs.

“I had hard nights,” Cesar said, “And I would just listen to music that would calm me down.”

The music was playing morning, afternoon and night, eventually inspiring him to try making some on his own as a disc jockey. Last year, the Make a Wish Foundation gave him a full DJ set to use.

“That’s his name, DJ Survivor,” Navarro said. “That’s because he survived cancer.”

Now, in remission, Navarro shares his passion with others.

“He’s doing a great job; we especially love the Pump the Jam, the ‘80s music,” said Courtney Woodfield, who was taking in the sights on Friday night.

And as the lights came on all around Salt Lake City, at the Gallivan Center and Temple Square, the sounds of the holidays, as played by a 13-year-old boy, helped remind everyone what the season is all about.