Cancer's first band was Castration Squad, an all women punk band formed by Alice Bag of The Bags. It was in this band that she went by the moniker "Mary Bat-Thing". Cancer was also in Vox Pop and sang backup for Nervous Gender in the 1980s. In 1981, 45 Grave was formed. Bassist Rob Graves had been in The Bags, keyboardist Paul Roessler had played in The Screamers and Nervous Gender, and Don Bolles had drummed for Nervous Gender and The Germs. With the addition of Paul Cutler on guitar, the band found success with the release of their first single "Black Cross" in 1981, and their contributions to the compilation Hell Comes To Your House. They are considered one of the originators of "deathrock" and helped form the sound and aesthetics of what would come to be known as Goth.
45 Grave broke up in 1985. However, due to the success of the LP Autopsy, released in 1987, the band reformed the next year and commenced touring and recording a new album, Only The Good Die Young, released in 1989. The band came to a permanent halt with the death of Rob Graves Ritter in 1990 from a heroin overdose. Cancer remarried briefly and had two daughters named Ilse and Eirika before separating from her second husband.
After her separation from her second husband, Cancer went back to using her birth name, Mary Sims, and focused all her energy on raising her children. She became an early childhood development teacher. During this time her music was featured in the movie "Return of the Living Dead". She resisted calls by people to start playing music again for several years until she felt her daughters were old enough to understand what she was doing.
Currently, Cancer is performing in the latest version of 45 Grave with Frank Agnew (lead guitar), and Tom Coyne (drums), and Brandden Blackwell (bass).
- Phoenix article on Dinah Cancer and the Grave Robbers
- From a 45 Grave to a Penis Flytrap
- Las Vegas City life Article
- Death Rock Pioneers 45 Grave Rise, Fall, Rise Again/