Cancer Fight Takes The Stage

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, left, tours a Mountain View neighborhood with U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, center, front, State Rep. Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage, back center, and Carol Gore with Cook Inlet Housing Authority, right during Sec. Donovan's visit to Anchorage, Alaska Tuesday Aug. 11, 2009. Sec. Dovovan is in Alaska as part of President Obama's rural tour where cabinet secretaries and administration office tour the country discussing how communities, state, and the federal government can work together on low income housing issues. (AP Photo/Al Grillo) AP Photo/Al Grillo

After writing about her experience with cancer during a weekend workshop, Deborah Milton Spaulding took to the stage.

"I'm at St. Vincent's Hospital receiving my first of seven rounds of chemotherapy," goes one of her lines.

"The Cancer Monologue Project" offers survivors and their loved ones the healing medicine of the theater. Spaulding says her words transform the isolation of chemotherapy and radiation into a sacred vow.

Stage 4 ovarian cancer forced her to confront survival odds and the strength of her own convictions. "It was like almost an affirmation of getting married and I felt like I had committed to something I wanted to honor," she says.

Spaulding says, "The first cancer monologue I wrote kind of made me have to stick to my word. My last line in it was 'I'm going to fight like a mad dog to stay' and I made that statement publicly."

She adds, "Being on stage is a real rush. It's pretty exciting."

David Devary's cancer was testicular - the same cancer his brother died of 30 years ago. On stage he explains what he and his family has been through: "Most of my family life has revolved around cancer. Most everyone in my family has died from it."

He explains, "Cancer is less unspeakable today than when I was a little kid and all my family was dying of it. Nobody talked about it."

In his monologue, Devary has found order in the chaos of disease.

One of his lines says, "By allowing myself to feel, some of the exquisite heartbreaks seem to be in direct proportion to my ability to feel love more deeply."

The experience has helped to break cancer's grip on Devary's family.

"Cancer monologue has been so good for me, it actually saved my marriage. Because like most guys they kind of block and bury a lot of stuff," he says. "And this cancer monologue gave me the opportunity to bring that all up and look at it and there were some problems that I needed to get into with my wife and it has really made a big difference in our marriage."

The creators of "The Cancer Monologue Project" have expanded their vision to include AIDS patients and others suffering loss in their life. Titled the "Life Monologues Project," it is being offered in workshops across the country.

For further information you can send an e-mail to cancermonologues@aol.com.
  • Tatiana Morales

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