Marylou DiPietro’s “In Love with Cancer” takes the audience through her experience of being diagnosed with “the C word.” That’s exactly what she calls it, and how fitting, because have you ever noticed how quickly a room can fall silent whenever the word “cancer” is uttered? It makes sense, given the many lives the disease has claimed, and the many foundations fighting for a cure. Having experienced it firsthand, Ms. DiPietro has a more irreverent take. She doesn’t like to be singled out or praised for being a cancer survivor, because any of us could die at any moment. This caught me by surprise, considering I know two breast cancer survivors and what their battle entailed. As odd as I found her remark, it got me thinking about that show, “1,000 Ways to Die,” and how we truly do face potential death every day. So, she had a point. Ms. DiPietro then told us about the doctors she visited, and the phone calls and urgent letters she received. Her story is fascinating. She was vigilant about going in for screenings and mammograms for four decades. Each time was the same; nothing was wrong. But she trusted her instincts and got a second opinion. Thank goodness for that. I would bet that at least one fourth of the women in the theater made an appointment for a breast exam after the performance. I myself checked for lumps right there in my seat. People usually tiptoe around certain topics to avoid making others uncomfortable. That’s why Ms. DiPietro’s sharing her story and views was bold and important. She mentioned that she used to hold back from speaking about being a breast cancer survivor. She didn’t want people to look at her differently. I truly believe she just wanted to be a regular run‑of‑the‑mill Joe Shmoe like everyone else. The ending of her show, and I’ll probably never forget this, focused on just living life to the fullest and enjoying what you’ve got. Never in these 75 minutes did she dwell on fear. It was more of a logical “okay, this is what I’ve got to do next; trust my instincts” type of method. To me, this was very inspirational, since it’s probably common to fall apart after receiving such a diagnosis. Her message of enjoying life and making the most of it is something we need to hear as often as possible, especially those of us prone to anxiety and overthinking. It certainly was a lovely way to end such a powerful performance.
“In Love with Cancer” Written and Performed by Marylou DiPietro October 5th 2019 at 9 PM Photo credit: courtesy of the production 2019 United Solo Theater Festival Theater Row 410 West 42nd Street New York City
DANIELLE CREAN is an aspiring writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College with a degree in Communication Arts and Journalism. During her college career she was a writer and editor-in-chief for the Odyssey Online. She is also currently writing a novel based on her own personal experiences with mental health.