Gillian Telling
July 14, 2017 08:30 PM

She’s already performed on NBC’s TodayGood Day New York, and was recognized asElvis Duran’s “Artist of the Month.”

Now, Marina Morgan, an up-and-coming singer from Staten Island, New York who suffers from Lyme disease, is hoping to reach a larger audience to promote awareness about the illness—and to let other sufferers know they shouldn’t let it stop them from pursuing their dreams.

“Before I was diagnosed with Lyme, I was told I had a bunch of auto immune disorders—one doctor even said I would die in 15 years from one of them,” Morgan, 24, tells PEOPLE. Still, she tried not to let the disease stop her from singing — even when it blinded her in one eye.

“I want to show people, even if you’re struggling, try to stay motivated and make it happen. Because I know how easily things can be taken away from you. So if you’re not going to go for it now, then when?”

When Morgan was 13 she also suffered from acute disseminated encephalomyelitis—a degenerative disease that paralyzed her and put her in the hospital for a year so she could learn to walk again.

Two years ago, Lyme disease attacked her legs and brought back some of her earlier symptoms—including blindness in one eye. (She eventually regained her sight.) Now Morgan walks with a cane and still battles bouts of balance issues and daily pain, but she refuses to stop singing or let her disease define her.

“Music is my creative outlet,” she says, noting that her hero is Demi Lovato. “It makes me forget about my health limitations, but it also makes me push myself.”

Morgan’s YouTube Channel is full of pop covers—including her most recent rendition of Demi Lovato’s ‘Stone Cold”—and though she’s on heavy medication to combat her physical symptoms, she says she’s determined to become a pop star despite her physical limitations.

Though her single “Paralyzed” was written about her physical experience, her new single “Nightmare” is a much more pop-oriented song, and Morgan says it’s time to put her past behind her.

“I really want to show the world me as an artist, and not ‘the sick girl,'” she says. “I also hope that my music helps others who aren’t doing well feel better.”

 

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