The C-Word: Her Own Cancer Story


Telling it like it was for me    

    This is the “Art-Meets-Life” story of my own cancer diagnosis while playing the role of the cancer patient in Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize drama "Wit." She encouraged me to write it, helped me with it... and promptly sent me off to a Healh Care Conference as her replacement. 

 

About the show

     It's the frank, humorous and poignant story of my role in "Wit," my own breast cancer, and of my close friend who died with cancer.

    "The C-Word" has been booked for providers' continuing education symposiums, “Lunch & Learns” at hospitals, Breast Cancer Awareness, American Cancer Society, Hospice, and Cancer Survivor events (often as fundraisers); and at medical centers and churches.  

       There’s a rendition of “The Linear Accelerator Blues” in this 45-minute presentation which includes Jeff Sebens’s hammered dulcimer musical accompaniment. A lively discussion often follows the show.




“Spellbinding! Even in an audience of 500, one could hear a pin drop,” responded Douglas Reintgen, M.D., Director, Lakeland Regional Cancer Center, Florida.


“Your ‘C-Word’ was extraordinary. I want to work with you as we build our new program,” wrote Donald L. Rosenstein, M.D., Director, Comprehensive Cancer Support Program, UNC, Chapel Hill. 


click here for video excerpts


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Excerpts from "The C-Word"


The worst part about the biopsy is the waiting… the waiting… the waiting. For the blasted biopsy report. Russell and I lie in bed, awake. He squeezes my hand, says “You’ll be OK.”  More waiting. Did they say a “couple” of days? It’s been 48 hours; No report... Day 3: I’ve made 3 casseroles and frozen them for the future. No report... 4 days now: I’ve cleaned out the pantry. No report... This is the 5th day. Russell, a retired physician himself, but now with a new perspective on this waiting business, is calling the doctor’s office: “The nurse says the pathologist hasn’t sent it yet.”  Day 6, the phone rings. 


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Post-Surgery: And here I am in this Waiting mode again—this time for the pathology report from the lymph nodes. Meanwhile every pain is suspect. Stomach cramps: it’s spread to the ovaries. Backache: it’s in the spine. Headache: it’s a  brain tumor.

           Tamoxifen, you say? What? $4 a pill to make me fat and listless and have hot flashes from hell? And you’re taking away my estrogen??? That kept me young—I’m in the theatre, don’t forget—and moist, for God’s sake???            
            Day 6, again:  Finally the phone rings.  It’s the surgeon with the good news: No cancer in the nodes! He quickly adds, “Now don’t go out and do a play about a woman with multiple sclerosis!” I never thought I'd be so glad to have only breast cancer!