“Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp decided that because it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” says Laura Roppé, “they should have a spot for a breast cancer survivor, so they contacted the Keep A Breast foundation in Oceanside.” Based on an essay she submitted through Keep A Breast, Roppé was awarded a full scholarship to attend the camp in Hollywood this November 17–22.
Roppé (pronounced row-pay), an Encinitas mother of two, had long dreamed of becoming a rock star. After a year of singing in a local cover band, she had enough original material for an album. She put the finishing touches on Girl Like This in August of 2008.
That’s when things started to change.
That month, one of Roppé’s songs, “Float Away,” got played on Jeff and Jer’s radio show. “It got a huge reaction,” she says. “Their phones lit up with people wanting to get a copy.” In September, Roppé was signed to a London-based record label. The pieces of her dream, she says, were falling into place. Then, in October 2008, she got a call from her doctor.
“She told me I had breast cancer and not only that, it was a really aggressive type.”
Roppé left her job as an attorney and spent much of the year ahead fighting for her life. She continued to write songs. By the end of her treatment regimen, Roppé was declared cancer-free.
At Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in Hollywood, Roppé and her fellow campers were tutored by Ace Frehley (Kiss), Meat Loaf, and Jon Anderson of Yes.
“They told us, he’s happy to talk to you, he’s happy to take a picture with you, but don’t, like, do the touchy-feely thing.”
Later, Anderson found Laura in a rehearsal room practicing with her band. “He came directly to me and he put his hands on both sides of my shoulders, facing me, like a foot away from my face, and he said, ‘You’re beautiful. Let that shine. You have so much. Let that out.’ And then he hugged me, and my mindset was still, like, don’t touch him, don’t get too close. Don’t invade his space. I burst into tears.”
What’s next for Roppé? “As if cancer didn’t teach me already,” she says, “I have to make every day part of my own rock-and-roll fantasy.” She says another CD is in the works, her song “Float Away” is getting play on the BBC, and she just finished taping a video in London.
Roppé is considered cancer-free but is not yet in full remission. Is she scared? “Yes. I am. But I can’t control it,” she says. “So, I try not to dwell on those feelings.”