While preparing for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, I was diagnosed with leukemia. The Monday before Thanksgiving in fact. Just a few days before our opening night. Needless to say it came as quite a shock.
After Pageant was finished I continued to see my oncologist and, at each visit, I was asked about any “new pains or problems.” I had been occasionally experiencing a slight pain in my right side but nothing significant. As a precaution I was sent for a CT scan of the abdomen which revealed a small tumor on my kidney. A later MRI revealed that the tumor was, in fact, cancerous. This was in late January/early February.
I needed surgery and was not sure of the scheduling. I did not audition for Mousetrap for that very reason as I didn’t want to possibly get cast then have the surgery become urgent and get scheduled during the show or rehearsals because the recovery time was going to be significant. My work schedule coming up was pretty busy through the summer of this year and, being self employed, I had to work to get paid.
Fortunately the surgeons, after more testing, decided surgery could wait until July. In the meantime, my daughter Elizabeth auditioned for Shrek and was cast originally as the White Rabbit but her part was later changed to the Wicked Witch. Surgery was scheduled for July 20, which was just before opening day for Shrek.
Director Marc Hammes let me come to the last two dress rehearsals before the show so that I could see her perform but I did not get to see the actual full theater performance of Shrek.
I am now recovering and doing well. Still fatigued some but nothing I can’t handle. There were a number of people with On Stage who checked in on me including Marc and several others. Even some of the actors with whom I worked called and emailed. It was very touching to have that contact and means more than anyone knows.