Thursday, May 19, 2011

Theatre and Life Colliding for a Cause

A copy of a blog entry I recently wrote for Theatre Unleashed:

This journey began when I answered a phone call from my mom in October of 2003. Eight years later the conversation is a blur but I do remember the words, "Breast Cancer," It's malignant" and "have to have surgery" being mentioned. I cried, she cried, I told her I loved her and as I hung up the phone I knew things were different. My mom was supposed to be invincible. She is my mom, she holds the answers to all questions, she is my biggest cheerleader and she is supposed to be here forever.

There were many more phone calls after that one. Surgery was scheduled, airplane tickets purchased, trips to Kansas City planned. She was, according to her oncologist, one of the "lucky ones," her cancer was treatable and as we found out after the surgery it hadn't spread to hey lymph nodes. I was there for the surgery and the recovery. I was there on Christmas Eve when her hair began to fall out from the chemotherapy. I was there to hold her and tell it would come back, I went with her to purchase bandannas and hats the day after Christmas.

I remember Christmas shopping that year. As I wandered through the mall looking for her present, the only thing I could think was that it had to be the perfect gift just in case this was the last present I ever got to give her. I quickly discovered that shopping for the perfect present is a very hard task to accomplish. It took me three tries to buy a Mother's Day card, the first two tries I had to leave the store because I couldn't stop the tears. How do you pick out a card when it might be the last card you get to buy.

Her surgeon was right, she was one of the "lucky ones." (Although I'm still not sure you can really call anyone living with cancer lucky.) My mom did survive. She has been in remission for just over seven years. I couldn't be prouder of my invincible mom, braving surgery and chemotherapy, taking drugs that kill the cancer but also make you feel horrible, she is a survivor.

This past December she sent me a pair of galoshes. These particular galoshes are covered in pink ribbons. One day in January I was sitting in my room and the pink ribbons caught my eye. I soon found myself googling the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk. The more I read, the more I wanted to sign up. I called my mom and told her I wanted to walk with her, 60 miles in three days. I wanted to walk to honor her. I wanted to walk in honor of the daughters who have already picked out their last Christmas present and I wanted to walk so no other child will ever have to stand in the card aisle searching for that perfect last card. She agreed to walk with me and so the planning began, we chose the San Diego walk happening this coming November.

Within a few hours of announcing to the world that I had registered, my college roommate, best friend for 12 years and Theatre Unleashed member, Jenn asked if she could join us. Our little team of three had formed and I couldn't be happier. Sadly due to health reasons (complications from taking the medicine that is supposed to keep her cancer free), my mom has decided to be a supporter rather than a walker. With that decision, my choice to walk becomes even more important to me. I now walk for both of us.

When Greg Crafts, Theatre Unleashed's Managing Director approached me with the idea of donating one dollar from each ticket sole to the Susan G. Komen Foundation I was thrilled. Statistically one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. That means that between the cast and crew of Julius Caesar, at least two of us may be affected. Through Jenn and me and the ticket sales of our patrons, Theatre Unleashed can make a contribution that will help continue the research for better medicines, stronger treatment programs and possibly a cure for a disease that is one of the leading causes of death in women. For a production comprised of mostly women, this seemed like the perfect charity for this production.

As a founding member of Theatre Unleashed and the daughter of a breast cancer survivor I look forward to seeing you at Julius Caesar and thank you for your donation.

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