I had a parental epiphany during a breast cancer fundraiser, and it became a metaphor for the fight against the disease.
Asked by my daughter Katherine to perform a reading, I stepped on a stage, looked out into the audience, and saw absolutely nothing but a blinding spotlight.
Did you know this? Did you know that you can wave enthusiastically from your seat in the audience, give a thumbs up, think you made eye contact with your beloved artist and he or she won’t have seen you at all?
Good lord, I thought, 29 years as a parent, a lifetime as a fan, and I never knew this.
“My sister Kathy is here tonight,” I read from my script, and then I looked up and squinted. “I think she’s here. I can’t see a thing.”
Kathy was in the crowd (front row!), which was a good thing because her brutal battle inspired the event, Based on a True Titty.
All proceeds went to the Trina Fund, founded by my friend Trina, who, though she ultimately lost her own fierce fight against the disease, left a legacy of love in the form of her fund, which provides monetary support for women to seek treatment and second opinions.
As I stood myopically on that stage, I spoke about Kathy, Trina, and many of the other women I know, including my mother in-law Mary Jane, who has been so sanguine about her diagnosis that we sometimes forget she has the disease.
All of the performers donated their time, including Trina’s daughter, Hillary Reynolds, and comedian Amy Haeussler, whose mother Julie, a breast cancer survivor, sat in the audience.
I watched them dance, sing, tell jokes, share poetry and perform sketches, and each one told a story of passionate support through their lyrics, rhymes, movement and lines.
It seems to me that having cancer is sometimes like standing in a spotlight. You aren’t always aware of the support you have, because you can’t see it. We’re all right here, though, praying, baking, donating, honoring, and sending love.
They can’t see me, but I am also giving an extended standing ovation to Pure and Weary for conceiving, producing, and hosting this great event.
I took the stage for my debut, and this is what I saw. There are plenty of people out there, including my sister Kathy, her husband Keith and step-son Traveain, but I could not see them.
Slam poet Ariel Atkins.
Ta da for the Ta Tas! Comediennes and actors, Atra Asdou, Amy Haeussler and Kristen Tallon performed a sweet and funny set that honored Haeussler’s mom, Julie.
A couple of pre-show photos in the purple green room.
I’ve never been backstage before, it’s a busy place…
…especially during the show.
Hillary performed in honor of her mom, Trina.
Jimmy Hibbard, a fellow Appleton North grad, danced a poignant tribute.
This hilarious scene outside a doctor’s office was performed by Seriously Unprepared.
My sister Kathy and me, post show.
Here’s the family shot — Katherine, Keith, Kathy, Traveain. Molly, me, Donna, Vinnie.
Brava! to hosts Pure and Weary.