Former SNL star Victoria Jackson is charming, humorously self-deprecating, and incredibly cheerful. In fact, talking to her today, you wouldn't know that just two years ago, she experienced a life-changing battle with breast cancer that left her questioning everything she knew to be true.
"I remember sitting in my lobby, looking around at the other middle-aged women the first time I got tested for breast cancer, and I thought, 'I'm just a fat old cliche, I'm just another statistic,'" she told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview.
"And then, it hit me - the only thing special about me is Jesus. I realized - Jesus is enough," she continued. "That, to this day, makes me cry. I sat there flipping through my Bible, and I was impressed by the reality that God's word is real, it's comforting, and it's very powerful. That's what got me through my battle."
Today, Jackson is cancer-free, and shares her story of faith and perseverance in her new book, "Lavender Hair: 21 Devotions for Women with Breast Cancer."
"Thanks to God, I'm now healthy, I'm fine," she said. "When I was laying in bed with chemo and very weak, I remember thinking, 'I know God can make something beautiful out of this; He makes beauty out of ashes.' So, I kept this journal of my thoughts, and turned it into a book."
The title, "Lavender Hair", is an homage to Jackson's husband, who, when her hair grew back in, referred to it as "lavender" instead of "grey".
"He was trying to make me feel pretty, which was so cute, because cancer isn't pretty," she shared. "I got inspired and turned that into a song, and then into the name of my book. Also, when I was bald, I was trying to figure out what head covering to wear, but turbans made me look like a psychic fortune teller. I ended up just wearing wigs of all colors - purple, pink, lavender - the wigs I wore brought joy into every situation."
Jackson's entire life is a testimony to God's power - and His sense of humor. Growing up in a Christian home, the comedian had the truth of the gospel impressed upon her at a young age.
"I was raised in the church and also in costumes doing flips - my dad was a gym coach," she shared. "It was, to say the least, an unusual childhood, but the Word of God stuck with me throughout my life."
Upon reaching adulthood, Jackson spent 6 years on the hit comedy show "Saturday Night Live", where she quickly became famous for her celebrity impressions, appearances on the "Weekend Update", and reciting poetry while doing back-bends or handstands on the desk. However, she refused to participate in sketches that violated or beliefs or took the Lord's name in vain.
"When I was hired by SNL, I thought, 'maybe God is giving me a platform, maybe this is my mission field'" she said. "I didn't proselytize or anything, but I was always thinking, 'how do I tell people about Jesus? I was the only Christian cast member."
One Christmas, Jackson decided to give her fellow cast members the Bible on cassette tape.
"I got one for everyone in the cast," she laughed. "What did you give someone who has everything? We were making great money. But, the Word of God is priceless. I don't know if it made a difference, but only God knows people's hearts."
While she's since starred in multiple comedies and TV series, her SNL years remain with her to this day.
"It's kind of like my middle name, almost every day somebody recognizes my voice or my aging face," she joked. "It's reruns, I guess. But, I'm so thankful for those years, because it really gave me a platform to share my faith."
Now, Jackson shares her testimony across the country, and even plans on returning to the stage; on October 8, she's performing a live comedy event in Nashville, TN at Zanies to benefit Breast Cancer Research.
"I always try to look at life from a humorous point of view," she said. "The Bible says 'a joyful heart is good medicine' and 'the joy of the Lord is my strength.' I've always felt that in my soul. No matter what I'm going through, I know that I can trust the Lord and He'll give supernatural peace and joy. I know that God's going to take care of me and there will be a happy ending. I just carry that with me."