Known for being the nightly bandleader and musical director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jon Batiste has been absent from the show since May 2022.
The award-winning singer is taking time off to care for his wife, Suleika Jaouad.
Who is Suleika Jaouad?
Jon Baptiste and Suleika Jaouad first met 20 years ago at band camp, and have since grown in the respective careers, and as a couple.
Born on July 5, 1988, Suleika Jaouad is a native of New York City.
Suleika attended the pre-college program at the Julliard School, studying the double bass.
She graduated with the highest honours from Princeton University in 2010, majoring in Near Eastern Studies with a double minor in Gender Studies and French.
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While at Princeton, the now-33-year-old worked on several human rights campaigns and studied abroad throughout Africa.
Continuing her education, Suleika earned a Master's degree in Writing and Literature from Bennington College.
At the age of 22, Suleika was diagnosed with leukaemia.
She began writing a column for the New York Times – Life, Interrupted – while in her hospital room at Sloan-Kettering, located in upper Manhattan.
Suleika has served as a member of Barack Obama's Presidential Cancer Panel, the national advisory board of Family Reach, the Bone Marrow and Cancer Foundation, and the Brooklyn Public Library's Arts & Letters Committee.
Aside from her column, Suleika has words published by Vogue, Glamour, NPR, and Women's Health.
She was an Anacapa Scholar in Residence at the Thacher School and a lecturer in the Narrative Medicine Program at Columbia University.
In 2019, Suleika's TED Talk – What almost dying taught me about living – was released.
The following year, she published Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted, in which she wrote about her battle with the illness and her subsequent recovery.
What cancer does she have and what has she said about it?
Suleika was first diagnosed with with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2011.
To fight the disease, Suleika underwent years of chemotherapy, enrolled in clinical trials and received a bone marrow transplant, before she was declared cancer-free three years later.
However, in November 2021, the 33-year-old received the news that her cancer had returned – this time more aggressively.
“We’re having to hold these two realities,” Jon Batiste, 35, told CBS.
Tragically, Suleika was forced to suffer alone in hospital isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This episode didn't deter the power couple, who went ahead and tied the knot in February 2022 in an intimate ceremony.
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Their wedding day was help the night before Suleika's new bone marrow transplant.
Getting married at that time, Batiste explained, was “an act of defiance. The darkness will try to overtake you, but just turn on the light, focus on the light, hold on to the light.”
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