I had an opportunity to do something great in these dull winter months. Max decided to direct an anniversary cabaret for the theater group that introduced us. It was small, fast, and had three shows. I think we had 6 weeks to rehearse, but it was punctuated with a lot of snow days.
I love to perform. I particularly like shows that have minimal rehearsals. Even though I was going through treatment, the fact that my best friend was directing and would understand if I needed to take extra moments to rest, or nights off to recuperate from chemo, made me feel confident enough to get out and give it a try.
I was cast to sing “I Can’t Say No” from Oklahoma. Back in 1997, I played Ado Annie for this same theater group. It was the summer that Max and I got close. Figuring the theater group was celebrating 40 years of performances, it was kind of great to have an original performer do one of their songs again.
At the beginning of the rehearsals, I was very nervous. I was surrounded by people I didn’t really know. I didn’t have the strength to stand two hours for vocal rehearsals. The first choreography rehearsal I had after chemo was excruciating. I didn’t think I would make it past the first 15 minutes. Every night, I continued on. I came to rehearsals without a wig and just a hat. When the elementary school we were rehearsing in became super hot, I even took my hat off. I started to rehearse without any head covering.
I got used to the freedom of not having to wear anything on my head. I had short hair. I didn’t mind rocking it as I got more comfortable. When I lost it again and got a buzz cut, I still went without a head covering which was a first. I started making friends in the cast and enjoyed having a place to come at night to dance, feel free, and forget about being someone who was going through cancer treatment.
My doctors allowed me to put off my next cancer treatment til after the show. I saw myself getting stronger. I started feeling like my old self again. At dress rehearsal, my sweats and baldhead were replaced with a wig done in fabulous pigtails and bold makeup. I looked like a different person. It was someone I remembered from a long time ago who would do these things on a regular basis.
I don’t know if I would have been able to perform as well if I had had chemo the week before, but I blazed on stage. I still got winded and tired, but it was manageable. I could see that I could get back into old form after treatment, and it made me hopeful.
If you are going through treatment, what is something that you used to do? Something you may have gone away from, but you still love. Maybe you don’t even think you can do it anymore? What ever it is, consider doing it. I knew that doing this show would be a stretch for me, but that was exactly the challenge I needed.
The show brought so much positivity into my life that other opportunities have opened up in my life. I found someone interesting to go out on a date with this Saturday night, I might have some new openings on the career front, and now I have a posse of new friends to inspire and encourage me through the end of my treatment.
As I drove away from strike yesterday, I realized that I was so grateful to have done this. I also became a little sad too. I think it is normal to experience a little post-show adjustment. I look at my piles of unopened mail, dirty laundry, and dishes and remember that I still have a lot of challenges ahead. My next chemo appointment is on Thursday, and I am not looking forward to sitting in a chair for 6 hours, or dealing with the fatigue and boney pain to come.
At least for a small window of time, I saw what life could be like post-cancer and knew that I wanted to be a part of it. Hope is precious, no matter what form it takes. So, here is to the next chapter. I am sure there will be more road bumps, but I am at least excited about the journey.