For the past eight months I have been engaged in a project that became a passion. Just a few weeks after my own cancer treatments had ended, I was invited to see a play about a man taking care of his wife during her cancer experience. Sounds grim? It wasn’t. I was very moved by the courage of the actor/writer Sam Simon in relating his tale of almost losing his wife to cancer.
I asked Sam if he’d consider bringing the pay to Long Island if I could find him a venue and he said “yes” immediately. Since then I found him a venue, the local Cinema Arts Centre in our town, and found him funding provided by our local Huntington Hospital. Then the real work began of publicizing the play and drumming up an audience. I learned a lot about digital public relations and met many new people along the way, some of whom have become friends.
But the real story is about the writing of this play. For several years Sam had kept his feelings about his experience hidden. He did not share them with his wife. Years later, as part of an improv acting group, he finally wrote them down. What he wrote was so moving, his fellow actors encouraged him to turn it into a full-fledged play, The Actual Dance. On stage, after the play ended, his wife spoke of how she cried when she read his account of their experience. Sam, a former consumer-affairs lawyer is now, in his self-described fourth stage in life, touring the country with his one-man play.
Our big event took place two nights ago at the Cinema Arts Centre. There was a full audience, including doctors, nurses, therapists and many who are either cancer survivors or are still battling cancer. My heart swelled with pride as I watched the play and looked around the room at the faces riveted by Sam’s performance. This was my chance to give back to my own caregivers: my husband, son, and daughter and to the caregivers who were in the audience. This night was very special because it was the anniversary of my own cancer story…a very special night of healing.
Thank you, Sam, for sharing your story with us. Writing can be healing, and in this case it also became a work of art.
For more information about the Actual Dance: