14 year-old Zelek Murray had been battling a rare form of brain cancer for 5 years when he received an unexpected video message from one of his favorite musicians. Zelek was diagnosed with a condition called Ependymoma when he was 9 years old, a rare type of tumor that can form in the brain or spine.
His bravery caught the attention of Drake, after another Toronto artist- Mustafa the Poet- shared Zelek’s story with him. Much to Zelek’s surprise, the artist sent him an encouraging birthday message, and Zelek’s mother shared a video of him reacting to it.
An Unexpected Birthday Message
In the video shared to Instagram, Drake can be heard telling Zelek “I’m a fan of people with heart and I can tell that you have a lot of heart. I just want to tell you to stay strong, I love you and I appreciate you.”
Zelek seems shocked, and can be seen smiling while watching the video. He repeatedly looks up to his mother in disbelief, and back at the screen, with an astonished expression. His mom then embraces him with a big hug after the video from Drake finishes.
“You don’t even know how much this meant for US but most importantly “HIM”, Temesha Ishmael–Zekel’s mother– shared in an Instagram post. “His strength is like no other and yes he has his good days and bad days, BUT THIS is exactly what he needed to lift up his Spirit.. to never give up,” she added.
She continued to describe her son’s attitude, writing: “You are my hero and many others. Your strength is like no other, thank you for always having a smile on your face and making all your nurses laugh even tho you’re the one in pain.”
A Deeply Appreciated Gesture
Drake and Mustafa The Poet both shared the video of Zelek’s reaction to their social media pages, where the outpouring of positive messages and support was overwhelming.
Zelek’s mother described the OVO rapper’s message as “heartfelt and touching” because he “took the time out to give my son words of encouragement and light during a time that’s been very dark for me and my family,” she said. “The birthday has touched him in ways I’ll never be able to put into words.”
For an artist as big as Drake to recognize the impact his voice has is refreshing, and a reminder that we are all human. While many glamorize fame, real bravery and heroism is found far from red carpets and social media.