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  • Writer's pictureKate

A Chorus Line Comes to MD Anderson: Five, Six, Seven, Eight (For You Dancers Out There!)

Or, Kate Beats Cancer: The Musical.

The other day I listened to a great podcast, Artists Becoming, by my dear friend Shelby Elsbree. In a recent episode, she and her cohost, Jessica Cohen, interview Sarah Strimel, Broadway dancer, singer and actor, who did IT, made a living as a dancer and then left. Here's the podcast, Living Loudly and Facing Fear. It's about so much all of us, especially women, but truly all of us, deal with when it comes to body image, expectations laid on us and, how life can tackle us really hard. She just came through a very scary bout of breast cancer, she had her breasts removed and will not be able to bear children. And, in the midst of all this, she found love. During cancer and Covid. And she talks about how being a dancer, stuff like dancing with a broken toe, makes you tough. It's a hard, brutal life, being a dancer and I've only know what I've seen from the outside looking in. Ballet or Broadway. A lot of sweat, pain and rejection, with the reward being the reward, the joy of performing. Which is incredible. Now, this sounds like a clunky transition but hang on, it works. Today I took a two-hour virtual class about what all will happen to me with radiation and all of the many ways I can mitigate side effects and work with them. Among them, head and neck exercises I will do probably for the rest of my life to avoid stiffening neck muscles. So I practiced them--right after I listened to my anthem, She's a Rainbow. Well, not right away, because then Lola came on, so of course, I had to SING that. And then, as I started doing those exercises, I suddenly had a vision of a musical dance scene set in a radiation clinic.

Five, six, seven, eight and we dance and do all of our neck stretches. Kind of like that crazy dance in Mama Mia where they wear face masks and flip flops.

So, if you show up at the radiation clinic at MD Anderson here in Houston some time over the next couple of months, maybe, you can dance.

And, here is what the nurse said at the very end of his presentation. During the presentation, he was very matter of fact, often funny, just a good presenter.

And then he got really passionate. He's been doing this 27 years.

He looked straight at us in Zoom.

“You are in the best place for this. So much has happened in the last 27 years.”

“We’re going to cure you!”

“We have an incredible success rate!”

“I just saw one patient for his 21st annual checkup—and he dates back to XXX days!”

“Sometimes I have epiphanies and I just had one. I see all of you coming in when I retire in two years.”

He's in the dance, of course.

Five, six, seven, eight!

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