Breast Cancer Review, a New Play and Me

I’ve just had my mid-year review with the Breast Cancer nurse, holistic, looking at physical and emotional needs or concerns.

I told of dancing in a field, wild swimming in a river, escaping to Lesvos and making time to recover.  That it feels like a year of two halves. She asked about the radiotherapy and I said I found it tough, the fear and need for someone to offer tea, toast and gentleness.

That I went back to work three weeks later, picking up a project and responding to women who have had their children removed, or are at risk of. How I’d written a new play, and how one of the characters gets a phone call, No Caller ID and she hears she has breast cancer, it’s me, that moment.  In the reality and now in the new play, Lindsey the breast cancer nurse is there with the surgeon, they are on speaker phone. 

I talked about being in rehearsals and seeing myself on stage.   I’ve written and threaded my life in nearly all of the two decades of plays I’ve written for Open Clasp; they are woven in the fabric.  But now as I sit with my wife and watch, we watched me/us get that phone call, it took us both right back to that moment, and we cried (well I did).  It reminded me of how the women feel when they watch their lived experiences up on stage, and a week later I sat with one of the women as she watched a moment play out on stage, she turned and said that hit hard. With this new play, I was in their shoes, art and life colliding and played out in front of you. 

With permission I wanted to talk about Margot, a baby born to the lovely Charlotte* and Alan whilst we were away in Lesvos. Margot lived for only one day, just 24hrs.

Charlotte said the following:

Margot taught us that life is too short to not spend it holding the right things and people close and letting the right things and people go.  As Margot was only gifted one day to live, she taught us no one day should be wasted – so if you knew you only had a day, what would you spend it doing and holding close?’

I feel I am out the other side, feel strong and I told the breast cancer nurse that the wife and I are doing the Coast to Coast bike ride, 135 miles over five days. I’m not fit (that’s not cancer that’s loving life too much) but I’m determined to live, love and hold what is important close and constant.

*Charlotte Bennett is a well-loved member of the Open Clasp family. She directed The Space Between Us and award-winning Rattle Snake, now being used to train frontline services in coercive control.

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