You remember the plot. You love the characters. You know “the song.” It’s no less than the stage adaptation of one of the most celebrated and beloved films of all time. Each unforgettable scene, song and dance, is accounted for, including the show-stopping title number, complete with an onstage rainstorm! 1920′s Hollywood is the setting for this zany, light-hearted romantic comedy about the early days of sound film, when many a movie studio found itself scrambling to salvage the career of its chipmunk-voiced silent picture star.
SDMT joins the water conservation effort and will be using recycled water for the RAIN!
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN PRODUCTION TEAM:
Director: Todd Nielsen: Choreographer Jill Gorrie: Musical Director: Don LeMaster
Director: Todd Nielsen
Choreographer: JIll Gorrie
Musical Director: Don LeMaster
Production Team also includes:
Lighting Design: Matt Novotny
Sound Design: Kevin Anthenill
Costume Coordinator: Janet Pitcher
Stage Manager: Amy Duffy*
Production Manager: Bret Young
(*Equity ; ** Stage Directors and Choreographers)
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN CAST – FEATURING:
Brandon Davidson* as Don Lockwood
Brittany Rose Hammond* as Kathy Seldon
Cameron Lewis* as Cosmo Brown
Andi Davis as Lina Lamont
*Member of Actors Equity Association
ADDITIONAL CAST: Beverly Baker, Bryan Banville, Katie Whalley Banville, Amy Beth Batchelor , Bradley Behrmann, Jordi Bertran, Laura Bueno, Lance Carter, Jean Luc Cavnar, Deborah Fauerbach, Karla Franko, Kyle Hawk, Ed Hollingsworth, Keenon Hooks, Artur Ivanov, Katey Konderik, Andrew J. Koslow, Gabriel Navarro, Joy Newbegin, Janissa Saracino, Tara Shoemaker, Claire Sorlie, Matthew Thurmund, Michael Van Allen, and John Wescott.
Here are some video highlights from SDMT’s “Singin’ in the Rain”
Cast of SDMT’s “Singin’ in the Rain”
Here’s some rehearsal video footage of SDMT’s “Singin’ in the Rain”
Amy Beth Batchelor
Andrew J. Koslow
MIke Van Allen
YOU GIVE, WE GIVE: Throughout their 2015 season, San Diego Musical Theatre is partnering with a different local nonprofit organization for each individual production. The Production’s Partner will be featured in the lobby during the run of that show as a way to raise awareness for the great work being done by San Diego nonprofits. Ten percent of the funds raised for SDMT during the run of each production will be given to that specific production’s partner organization. SDMT announces “Voices for Children” as our “You Give, We Give” fundraising campaign partner during SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. Here is the link for Voices for Children: http://www.speakupnow.org/
TICKET INFORMATION: Single tickets for SDMT’s production of SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN are $35.00, $45.00, $55.00 and $65.00. Children 16 and under save $10. There are discounts for Seniors and Students. Equity and Actor’s Alliance may purchase up to 2 tickets at half price. Group discounts for parties of 12 or more are available by calling the Administrative Office at 858-560-5740. For individual tickets contact the Administrative Office at 858-560-5740 or visit SDMT online at http://www.sdmt.org.
SCHEDULE: SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN show times are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. LOCATION: The Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101. There is parking in the Spreckels garage and the NBC Building. Both are accessed via Broadway Circle. For more information and tickets call San Diego Musical Theatre’s Administrative Office at 858-560-5740. The San Diego Musical Theatre Administrative Office is located at 4652 Mercury Street, San Diego, CA 92111. Monday-Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.. Tickets purchased through the Spreckels Box Office are through Ticket Master.
Alyssa Goodman, Ph.D., Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University
Susan Farese, SJF Communications (left) with Dr. Alyssa Goodman in Newport Beach, California, 2014
I first met Dr. Alyssa Goodman in Lexington, Massachusetts in 2008, when our daughters, now 16 & 17, were in the same 4th grade Girl Scout troop and then continued as fifth grade classmates. Besides being “Girl Scout and Classroom Moms”, our families spent time together socially.
Alyssa has always intrigued me. I admire her deep intelligence, humor and authenticity. She is easy to connect with and is truly “down to earth” vs. “up in the clouds”, considering she’s a tenured Astronomy Professor at Harvard! There’s no arrogance about her, she is not a diva, has a great sense of humor, and she does not intimidate others. She has a keen sense of awareness of her environment and the state of the world to include the skies, and loves making sense out of patterns of all kinds. As an aside, she also always wore the coolest colorful earrings!
Although my family and I moved to San Diego in 2010, we have kept in touch periodically. Dr. Goodman travels extensively and always lets me know when she is in my neck of the woods and vice versa. It’s my pleasure to interview Dr. Goodman as an “Extraordinary Person Sharing Her Story”
Alyssa Goodman, Ph. D.: Biography
Alyssa Goodman is Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University and a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution. Goodman’s research and teaching interests span astronomy, data visualization, and online systems for research and education. Goodman received her undergraduate degree in Physics from MIT in 1984 and a Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard in 1989. She became full professor at Harvard in 1999, and was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009. Goodman recently served as Chair of the Astronomy Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and on the National Academy’s Board on Research Data and Information, and she currently serves on the both the IAU and AAS Working Groups on Astroinformatics and Astrostatistics. Goodman’s personal research presently focuses primarily on new ways to visualize and analyze the tremendous data volumes created by large and/or diverse astronomical surveys, like COMPLETE. She is working closely with colleagues at Microsoft Research, helping to expand the use of the WorldWide Telescope program in both research and in education.
And now, our interview:
SJF: You are extremely intriguing to me! Tell us a bit about yourself…
AG: Sure. Wow, this goes back awhile! I was born in NYC grew up on Long Island. When I was 8 years old, I was captivated by and in awe of marine biologist oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. Oh how I really wanted to be a marine biologist at Woods Hole someday.
My eventual plan was to go to college first and study marine biology, but as time passed, I changed my mind. My new plan was to become a Physician, but a family member was very sick at the time and passed away. I soon decided that dealing with illness and death wasn’t for me either.
I was a good student and always had a love for science. I applied to the undergraduate program at Harvard (but ironically was not accepted)! About the same time, my younger sister discovered (while reading stack of college application material) that MIT only “early accepted” or “deferred” applicants but didn’t “reject” any. I was accepted into MIT and majored in physics.
My Dad helped me to find a summer Internship at an engineering company, where I subsequently interned for two summers, after high school graduation and after my freshman year at MIT. When it was time to plan an internship after my sophomore year at MIT there were two possibilities: An “underwater archeological dig” and NASA! I was one of 60 applicants for a scholarship to an underwater archeological “dig” that one had to pay for and missed out on the scholarship by one spot. I also boldly called NASA (no Google then…I merely looked the number up in the “yellow pages”) and accepted and was paid for a NASA internship.
After graduating from MIT in 1984, I was offered a job at the Bank of Boston, but said no and decided to delay working by going to Graduate School.
I was accepted to Harvard for graduate school and received my Ph.D. in Physics 1989. I did my post doctoral at University of California at Berkeley for three years. My first post-graduate assignment was teaching Astronomy in 1992, (which was ironic, since I had only taken one Undergraduate and one Graduate Astronomy course and didn’t believe that I had the “credentials”)!
Harvard Professor of Astronomy, Alyssa Goodman, speaks about the new capabilities of Microsoft WorldWide Telescope 5.0 at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington D.C. (Photo: Microsoft Corporation)
SJF: Very interesting that your awe of the ocean led you to your gazing at and studying the stars & galaxies! What have been your life hurdles? successes?
AG: While it wasn’t a “hurdle” I did have uncertainty as to when I would become a tenured professor at Harvard. In academia, all those years of education weren’t enough, even with a Ph.D. I was initially an Assistant Professor 1992-1995 and was considered Junior Faculty, then became an Associate Professor from 1995-1999. Normally Associate Professors are tenured, but that was not the case at Harvard. I taught for seven years and balanced an uncertain future, worrying that I would need to relocate, wondering if I could have a family, etc. before I was tenured as a full professor in 1999.
SJF: Your “uncertainly” has certainly led you to a highly valued tenured position at Harvard and many amazing opportunities to educate and inspire us! Which leads me to the next question: Who are three people that you admire?
AG: Jacques Cousteau, for his lifelong work as an exceptionally bright marine biologist, Albert Einstein for his views of Judaism as a ” philosophy” vs. a “religion” and Meryl Streep for her versatility as an actress.
SJF: What have been three significant/pivotal events in your life?
AG: My first memory of a pivotal event? Well, when I was in 9th school, I gave my National Honor Society speech. One of my friend’s moms was there and heard my speech. She told me way back then that I had a “natural talent” for public speaking. I didn’t realize what she meant at the time! Incidentally, that friend’s mom is actually now the mother of an undergraduate student studying violin at Harvard today! Another pivotal event was when I became tenured at Harvard. And of course, becoming a Mom to my daughter Abby was a very special pivotal event and remains so.
SJF: What are your fears?
AG: I fear that our beautiful planet Earth will be ruined due to climate change (as well as how some people treat it).
SJF: What are some of your strongest assets?
AG: I learn things well. I stop talking, listen and pay attention. As an observer, I see patterns and connections. I also remember things that don’t connect. I stay fit.
SJF: Those assets are definitely words of wisdom! What do you usually dream about?
AG: Some dreams are vivid and memorable, some that are bad, I instantly forget!
SJF: That’s brilliant and concise way of describing your dreams! Speaking of dreams, how do you support dreams of others? Do you “give back”? if so with which groups?
AG: Not being fluent in another language. Although I have studied French, I feel I could have studied a bit more.
SJF: Who are your role models? Male or female, in or out of your profession?
AG: This is very interesting, because they are both serendipitous friendships. A female role model I admire is Astronomer Vera Rubin (Dark Matter) and a male role model would be Bob Kirshner , a Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University who studied dark energy, and was a Wolf Medal Recipient.
SJF: What qualities should the younger generation aspire to have that you think are important in this day and age?
AG: There should be less emphasis on grades and more on actual curiosity and learning.
SJF: Agreed! How do you feel about the enourmous use of technology is being used today? Do you think we should connect more in person?
AG: I definitely use tech a lot, but have a love-hate relationship with it. I like it when it is associated with learning. I don’t like it as a time waster!
SJF: Any funny anecdotes about astronomy?
AG: I occasionally take a look at xkcd.com; It’s what I call “nerd humor” and it’s such a hoot!
SJF: I took a gander at it! Cool! What’s been happening lately and what is up next for you???
AG: I just taught a one day advanced workshop in San Francisco in February, 2015 called “See Think Design Produce” with Jonathan Corum, Mike Bostock and Edward Tufte: world-class design architectures for information, data, images, videos, diagrams, interfaces, presentations. We spoke about how to convey information graphically. In March I will be presenting at and attending “Tools for Astronomical Big Data” speaking about “Wide Data vs. Big Data” in Tucson, Arizona.
SJF: Those sounds like interesting workshops! Speaking of San Francisco, and Tucson, where have you traveled? Where is your favorite place in the world??
AG: My job has taken me many places in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres! My favorite place is Martha’s Vineyard.
SJF: Thank you so much, it’s been such a pleasure interviewing you and getting to know you even more!
Torrey Pines Golf Course is magnificently perched on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is truly a gorgeous course. Just spectacular!
San Diego had a foggy start the morning of February 4, 2015, leading to a 2-plus hour delay (even for Tiger Woods’ tee time) for the prestigious PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open Preview “Pro-Am” (Professional-Amateur) at Torrey Pines, which officially runs February 5-8.
I was invited to attend a Small Business Summit at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines during the morning. As luck would have it, we received a comp ticket for the tournament, so I decided to venture out. It was a spectacular day! After walking nearly 10,000 steps I am hoping to return again this weekend for more!
I arrived a bit after noon and strolled a bit, had lunch at the concession stand and miraculously was just in time to catch Phil Mickelson finishing the 9th hole on the South course.
Phil Mickelson was kind enough to grace the crowd with his autographs after he finished playing for the day.
Oh…if you attend the Farmers Insurance Open, please heed my advice: WEAR COMFY SHOES! Hydrate! Be respectful of the players. Keep noise to a minimum. Finally, have fun!
San Diego Musical Theatre (SDMT) www.sdmt.org Presents their highly acclaimed, holiday tradition for the third year in a row, “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” December 11-21 at the North Park Theatre. This is SDMT’s final show of the 2014 “Season of Musicals” at the North Park Theatre.
There is one preview on Thursday, December 11. Press Opening Night is Friday, December 12 and the production continues until Sunday, December 21. More info below!
A few interesting facts!:
* 2014 is the 60th anniversary of the film “White Christmas” starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney
* 2014 is the 10th Anniversary of the stage premiere of “White Christmas” in San Francisco in 2004
* San Diego’s Allison Spratt Pearce (SDMT’s Maria in “The Sound of Music”) plays Betty Haynes in SDMT’s IBWC and many in the ensemble and character roles live in San Diego area.
* SDMT’s “You Give, We Give” fundraising campaign: 10% of donations raised at the White Christmas at the North Park Theatre will go to Resounding Joy! The Military Music Therapy program, better known as Semper Sound, which works directly with returning military service members and veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, substance abuse and other physical and psychological diagnoses related to combat stress and trauma.
* There will be a free holiday craft project before the show for the kids at White Christmas matinees on Saturday, December 13 & 20 at 2:00 p.m. or Sunday, December 14 & 21 at 2:00 p.m., Those interested need to call (858-560-5740) to reserve a spot for their child, as space is limited. Children 16 years and younger can take advantage of a $10 ticket discount!
Based on the beloved, timeless film, this heartwarming musical adaption features seventeen Irving Berlin songs, played by a live 22 piece orchestra! Veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil’s former Army Commander. The dazzling score features well known standards including Blue Skies, I Love A Piano, How Deep Is the Ocean and the perennial favorite, White Christmas. White Christmas is back! Make it a holiday tradition in your family!
Production Team: Director: Todd Nielsen; Choreography: Lisa Hopkins; Re-Staging of Choreography: Keenon Hooks; Musical Director: Don LeMaster; Lighting Designer: Matt Novotny; Costume Coordinator: Janet Pitcher; Stage Manager: Kendra Stockton* (Equity).
WHITE CHRISTMAS CAST (* Member of Actors Equity Association):
TODD DUBAIL* (Bob Wallace) is excited to be performing in San Diego again, after moving from here to NYC in 1994. A big thank you to SDMT for making that happen! National tours: Joseph … (Pharaoh, with Patrick Cassidy & Jon Secada), Grease (Danny, with Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker & Fabian), Leader Of The Pack and Jesus Christ Superstar (with Ted Neeley & Carl Anderson). Regional credits include: Starlight Express (Greaseball), Aladdin (Kassim), Cats (Rum Tum Tugger), Little Shop Of Horrors (Orin, et al.), Crazy For You (Lank), All Shook Up (Chad), Guys And Dolls (Sky Masterson), Tarzan (Clayton), Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Hairspray (Corny Collins), The Thing About Men (Sebastian), Damn Yankees (Joe Hardy), Romance, Romance (Alfred/Sam), Into The Woods (Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf), and Cabaret (Cliff). Thanks to his amazing family, friends and JJS for their love and unwavering support. Mr. DuBail is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.
ALLISON SPRATT PEARCE* (Betty Haynes) was last seen at SDMT as Maria in TheSound of Music. Credits include: Broadway-Curtains, Cry Baby and Good Vibrations. National tour: Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Recent: Jane in Emma, Phoebe in As You Like It, Viola in Twelfth Night at The Old Globe, Victoria in Sideways at The La Jolla Playhouse and Debbie in Old Jews Telling Jokes at The Lyceum. Allison has a mid-Atlantic AAA commercial running and coaches privately and with MTCA. She also has a duet group, Basso e Voce for special events. This Spring she will be Eliza in My Fair Lady at Cygnet. BFA-Elon University & MFA-USD/Old Globe. www.AllisonSprattPearce.com
JEFFREY SCOTT PARSONS* (Phil Davis) is grateful White Christmas has become a San Diego tradition! SDMT audiences have seen him as Phil Davis for the past two years as well as Skimbleshanks in Cats earlier this season. Other San Diego credits include Romance/Romance and Dames at Sea (North Coast Rep), Billy Crocker in Anything Goes, Bobby Child in Crazy for You (Moonlight Amphitheatre), and Malcolm in The Full Monty (Welk Resort). As a member of Musical Theatre Guild in Los Angeles he was most recently seen as Agis in Triumph of Love. Member of Actors Equity. Love to the fam and Happy Holidays! www.jeffreyscottparsons
TRO SHAW* (Judy Haynes) is thrilled to be making her SDMT debut in this amazing production. Notable credits include Broadway’s West Side Story (Anybodys); Geffen Playhouse’s Rapture, Blister, Burn (u/s Avery); Norris Center’s White Christmas (Judy Haynes); La Mirada’s Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (Sarah); and Utah Shakes’ The Matchmaker (Minnie Fay). Special thanks to Todd, Erin and Gary for making this an amazing experience. Thanks also to Simon for the limitless support. Ms. Shaw hails from Berkeley, CA and holds a BFA in Acting from Carnegie Mellon University. www.troshaw.com
Joy Allen, Jeni Baker, Amy Beth Batchelor, Philip Cobb, William Cobb, Crystal Davidson, Janie d’Avignon, Karla Franko, John Gamboa, Max Gidaley, Siri Hafso, Danny Hansen, Kyle Hawk, April Henry, Ed Hollingsworth, Allison Knight, Andrew Koslow, Danielle Levas, Paul Morgavo, Joy Newbegin, Jeremy Shull, Claire Scheper, Doug Schmitt, Debra Wanger and John Wescott.
TICKET INFORMATION: Single tickets for SDMT’s production of WHITE CHRISTMAS are $42.00, $52.00, $62.00 and $72.00. Children 16 and under save $10. There are discounts for Seniors and Students. Equity and Actor’s Alliance may purchase up to 2 tickets at half price. Group discounts for parties of 10 or more are available by calling the Administrative Office at 858-560-5740. For individual tickets contact the Administrative Office at 858-560-5740 or visit SDMT online at www.sdmt.org.
SCHEDULE: WHITE CHRISTMAS show times are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
LOCATION: The North Park Theatre, 2891 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104. There is street parking and a parking structure across the street from the theatre.
For more information and tickets call the San Diego Musical Theatre Administrative Office at 858-560-5740. The San Diego Musical Theatre Administrative Office is located at 4652 Mercury Street, San Diego, CA 92111. Box Office hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (closed from 1pm-2pm), Monday through Thursday. Open 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Fridays.
In honor of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d like to introduce you to an inspiring, extraordinary person and true pink warrior, Sharon Slosarik, who is living life to the absolute fullest with Stage 4 Breast Cancer since 2006. That’s right, 8 years at Stage 4!!!! Sharon and I are “pseudo-cousins” and 2nd generation members of the very special one-of-a-kind “B-Cliff Club“, courtesy of our fathers and dear to our hearts. Little did they know what an impact the B-Cliff has had on our lives!
Much more about Sharon and her fierceness soon, but first a little history on the the B-Cliff Club (as you might be wondering about the name and how it came about)!
Tidbits About the B-Cliff Club
Sharon’s Dad Johnny (who sadly passed away in 2010) and my Dad Frank, along with 4 other grammar school buddies, Joe (Frank’s cousin), Steve, Paul and Vic, became lifelong friends in Passaic, New Jersey during the 1940’s and have continued through high school and life.
During the mid to late 1950’s…the six guys were courting and ultimately getting married to their sweethearts. They formed the very unique “B-Cliff Club”…each letter standing for the initial of their Italian last names. Sharon’s Dad Johnny provided the only vowel, the “i” in the group.
Each month or so, the young couples would gather at one of their homes. The guys would play cards, the ladies would chat about this or that. They’d all share conversations, listen to the music of the time, laugh a lot, enjoy food and light libations, etc. Twice a year they would host in some way or another.
The B-Cliff meetings continued over the years as each of the couples became parents, their kids endured K-12 and college, marriages, grandchildren and issues in-between etc. and we all became “cousins” by default! The families celebrated priceless friendships at Italian feasts, dude ranches, Great Adventure and other fun spots throughout the years. To this day, the B-Cliff Club meets every few months, despite miles between them the furthest living in Georgia, and some in Northern NJ and several in Southern NJ.
Sharon’s Story…Life Before Her Diagnosis
Now all about Sharon…She was born in 1967 to Uncle Johnny and “Irish” Aunt Connie and grew up with her older sister Dawn (who is 4 years older than Sharon) in NJ. She graduated from Lenape Valley Regional High School in Stanhope, NJ and obtained her degree in English Writing and Communications at the University of Pittsburgh in 1989. After college Sharon worked for Dun & Bradstreet as a National Business Consultant and Risk Evaluation Consultant and then as Administrative Assistant to the Head of Dermatology at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY.
Sharon and her future husband John had known the same friends since 8th grade but had never met. It was one infamous evening, however after she graduated from college, when Sharon was “stood-up” on a date with another boy, that hit the icing on the cake. Sharon’s fierceness surfaced when she encountered that “stander upper” at the establishment John was working at. After telling him a thing or two…she boldly poured a beer over the guy! Incidentally they remain friends to this day (but John lucked out)!
One late night in NYC Sharon and her friend went to a comedy club. There she was, in ’90’s attire, including stiletto heels, her “jersey hair”, & “lots of makeup”. After the club, in the wee small hours of the morning, Sharon and her girlfriend went to a park because Sharon wanted to go on the swings. They had a heart to heart chat about what they were looking for in their future husbands. Sharon spouted off many of the qualities she was looking for..and her friend blurted out: JOHN! He is your ideal husband!
Needless to say, it took a little bit longer, but Sharon and John were happily married on 9.4.94. (fast forward…this year celebrated their 20th anniversary)!
After multiple attempts to conceive, they decided to try In Vitro. Their beautiful daughter Jennie, now 16, a Junior in high school, and a pink warrior-ette too, was born in 1998. More on Jennie later!
The events of September 11, 2001 strongly affected Sharon, as she lost several friends who either worked in the Twin Towers or were first responders who helped in the recovery of victims. After 9/11, she was compelled to make a drastic change. Sharon took a huge pay cut, took classes and embarked on her new career as a credentialed teacher. She has been teaching 9th and 10th grade English ever since (with gaps for medical reasons) at inner-city Passaic High School, the alma mater of the B-Cliff guys. She also is active as a class advisor. Additionally she serves as a tutor and chaperone for the New Jersey R.O.T.C. (Navy) as well as an advisor for the National Honor Society.
The First Diagnosis & Treatment
Fast forward to May, 2003, when Jennie was almost 5 years old. Sharon and John had gone to the rain delayed Yankees vs. Boston game in the Bronx that Wednesday evening. Late that night when they finally got home from the game, John was taking a shower after his then split-shift at work, with Sharon sitting on their bed. Sharon felt some “itchiness” in the area on her chest. She rubbed the itchy area and sadly discovered a lump on her breast. That was the beginning. They both shed the beginning of many tears. The next morning they rushed to Sharon’s OB/GYN, who ordered an urgent mammogram that afternoon followed by an ultrasound the next day after work. Once the pre-op labs and workup was completed Sharon had a lumpectomy the following Tuesday, which was standard practice at the time. The diagnosis was stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma an estrogen aggressive type of breast cancer which was bulging the lymph ducts. It was an omen that the ducts didn’t burst for fear of spreading. Five lymph nodes were positive. The decision to have the lumpectomy was because at the time, she was told that chemo, radiation and lumpectomy had the same success cure rate within 5%. The surgeon removed 5-6 nodes were biopsied.
In December 2003, Sharon experienced nine rounds of chemotherapy and 36 doses of radiation. Sharon lost her hair from the chemo and had other side effects. The radiation caused 2nd and 3rd degree burns, which required “Silvadene with gauze, tank tops, and big shirts” to go along with the pain and nausea.
BRCA-1 Gene Positive
A few years passed. Then, in 2006, Sharon found out that she was BRCA-1 gene positive. Of note is that her paternal grandmother and all of her grandmother’s sisters as well as all of her paternal grandfather’s sisters had breast cancer and several paternal relatives had colon cancer. She was the 4th generation to have breast cancer. Sharon’s sister Dawn has tested negative. Jennie will be tested at age 18.
Sharon’s Cancer Returns…This Time Stage 4
Once she found out that she was BRCA-1 positive, she decided to have an elective bilateral mastectomy as a precaution. While having her preop workup with labs and tests, it was discovered “accidentally” that her breast cancer had unfortunately returned. Despite her earlier Stage 3 breast cancer and treatment regimen of her lumpectomy, chemo and radiation, this time, her cancer was classified as Stage 4. Additionally, it metastasized to her lung, slightly on one of her ovaries as well as one of her fallopian tubes. Even with her physician’s reluctance, Sharon fought hard and ultimately had a bilateral mastectomy, removal of her ovary and had 4 inches of her lung resected.
The Surgery and Aftermath
After a terrible encounter in 2006 with her Oncologist who “didn’t want to treat her due to the fact that she was going to die from stage 4 breast cancer”, Sharon waited a year and found a wonderful new Oncologist and team. She was advised not to have new implants. In 2009, Sharon underwent and endured a 14 hour trans-flap reconstruction comprised of 6 or 7 procedures from a team of physicians. She had an enormous amount of postoperative pain which persisted for months.
In 2011 Sharon’s Physician started her on a new med, Zometa, twice a year. Zometa is an intravenous medication which treats bone problems from cancer. She suffers from difficult side effects from this treatment, including ongoing neuropathy.
Sharon sees her Gynecologist, Oncologist and Primary Physician regularly. She had scans every three months for awhile, then every 6 months. After celebrating 5 years at stage 4, since nuclear scans can lead to toxins she now has them every 18 months to two years.
Sharon’s Warrior Spirit and Community Involvement
Interview Q & A with Sharon
SF: Please share your involvement with Breast Cancer awareness in the community:
Sharon: My sister Dawn first saw a commercial for the Susan G. Komen walk in 2002 when I was undergoing my chemo and radiation treatment. The day I completed my treatment I registered both of us (without telling her) to walk 60 miles. Dawn and I first walked in 2003. During 2006-2007 I was having extensive surgery. In 2008, my husband John walked for me for the first time. I was supporting cheering him and others from the sidelines, since I wasn’t cleared to walk yet. John has walked for me alone from 2008-2011. http://www.the3day.org/site/TR/2014/PhiladelphiaEvent2014?px=3672255&pg=personal&fr_id=1863. I’m so proud to say that we have walked together since 2012!
Sharon and Dawn at the 2013 Philadelphia 3 Day Walk “PIt Stop”!
A Message from Sharon’s Sister, Dawn
It’s funny to think that when we were kids, Sharon and I couldn’t be in the same room together without trying to kill each other because now she is my best friend and I can’t imagine not having her in my life. That’s why her diagnosis hit me so hard. Your little sister is facing this nightmare and you can’t do anything to stop it. You just feel so helpless. Then I saw the commercial for the 3-Day and told Sharon about it. I thought it would be a great way to do something together to try and make a difference, but she was in the middle of her chemo treatments. Well apparently she thought it was a good idea too because when her treatments were done, she signed us both up and the rest as they say is history. She and I did two walks together before her 2nd diagnosis. We took time off from walking while Sharon began the 2nd round of her battle. Now the 3-Day is a real family affair. John, Jennie, Sharon and I walk and my mom and aunt volunteer as support staff. We have also become part of an even bigger “Pink Family” through the friendships we have formed participating in the walk. Our “pink peeps” as we call them are the most loving and generous people I have ever met. Their dedication to ending this disease warms my heart and I know that because of them, Sharon lives to fight another day. She charges forward with no hesitation to face every challenge that this disease throws at her. She never complains, never slows down, she just stares cancer right in the face and tells it to kiss her ass. I am so proud to call Sharon my sister. She is a true Pink Warrior. She is my hero and I love her very much!
Sharon: Yes, I remember three of them in particular. The three hardest days were definitely the day I lost my hair, the day I realized my daughter “gets it” and the day I had a doctor give up on me.
The hair day was really difficult because nobody really warns you. It is not a gradual thing it comes out in clumps and it hurts and it is horrible. I remember sitting there just pulling it out by the handful and I looked like that ratty doll from rug rats. My husband John said “That’s enough” and finally just buzzed it. Jennie was so sweet she was only 4, but she said “Don’t worry Mommy, you are beautiful on the inside so your hair doesn’t matter.” Oy that kid kills me but in a good way! John of course was already bald but a dear friend shaved his head for me and showed up at the Yankee game that night bald. He said, “Baby, it’s only hair… yours will grow back and so will mine.” I was speechless.
The next bad day was when Jennie was about 6. A friend from work had a heart attack and passed and I was getting ready to attend his wake. She looked at me and said, “What kind of cancer did your friend die from Mommy?” I said, “No baby, he had a problem with his heart.” Jennie replied, “Oh, he had cancer in his heart and that’s why he died.” In that moment I knew that she understood that what mommy had killed people and I cried the whole way to the wake. It’s one thing to know it yourself, it’s another to have your child know it. That part really hurts, she never remembers a time that mommy wasn’t sick, but at the same time it has given her such strength and compassion.
My other really bad day was when my physician told me she didn’t want to treat me because I had Stage 4 and was going to die so why would she waste her time on me. I left her office and wandered for blocks in NYC finding myself at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I sat down and lost it. Sobbing uncontrollably. A security guard got a priest but I was so upset I couldn’t even breathe or speak. They hit redial on my phone and luckily I had spoken to a friend who was an FDNY chief on the way into the city. He came lights and sirens to pick me up parked on the sidewalk, drove me to the nearest bar and lined up shots of Jameson’s I threw back a few, told him what happened, he did one himself and asked me her name. I did another and began to laugh. I knew if I gave up her name he was going to hurt her so I refused!
SF:Tell us about the IV pole story…
Sharon: When the cancer metastasized my poor husband was so upset. We hadn’t expected it but I pushed the doctor to biopsy “the probably nothing spot” on my lung, and what was supposed to be a “quick” procedure ended up a 4 inch lung resection with a chest tube. I was in the recovery room and John walked in and started to tear up. I looked at him and said, “Knock that off now, before I shove this IV pole up your *****, we beat it before we will beat it again.” The nurse looked at me and her mouth dropped, she asked, “Did you just threaten to shove that pole up that very large man’s ***?” I said , “yes I did and I will do the same to you if you don’t get me a wheel chair because I have to pee and I don’t do bed pans.” The nurses laughed so hard and we ended up having so much fun they pulled strings and got me a private room.
SF: How do you keep healthy?
Sharon: As far as keeping healthy I try to find a balance between healthy and fun. I don’t really deny myself “goodies” but I don’t over do it either. I walk as far as exercise goes, and I am careful around people who are sick or obvious germ hang outs. I also drive my doctor crazy sometimes but he has learned to trust that I know my body and I know my limits and has resigned himself that I am the only one allowed to set those limits.
SF: What are your coping strategies?
Sharon: Ok, so how I cope is easy, humor. I tend to laugh a lot! I never allowed cancer to interfere with my life, and my family never did either. I pushed through because I had a daughter and I knew she needed her mother. My dad lost his father when he was 7 and I wasn’t about to allow my daughter to face that because I knew how it had affected him even later in life. From the first diagnosis and every re-occurrence my question has been “OK, so how do we attack this the hardest.”
It’s funny, my conscious self is fine. I really handle it well but at one point I started to have night terrors. Apparently deep down inside, my mind was not laughing! I spoke to a therapist and my doctor finally ended up giving me some medication to help me sleep for anxiety. I am not big on meds but learned that it is sometimes better to take what you need and not be ashamed of it.
SF: Where did you inherit your “fierceness quotient”?
Sharon: I think I learned how to fight from my Grandmother Jennie and my Aunt Kay. They fought the same fight but we never really knew they were sick, and both beat odds they shouldn’t have at the time. Some days you could tell it was a “bad” day but they still always put us first. My dad remembered my grandmother telling them, “You lost your dad, you won’t lose me,” and she lived, she just lived. I remember my Aunt Kay went in the hospital two months before my wedding and they didn’t expect her to ever come home. She laughed at the doctor and said, “I promised Sharon and John I would bake cookies for their wedding.” She made 50 trays with her arm so swollen from lymphodema we thought we would have to cut her dress the day of the wedding, but somehow she woke up, no swelling, color in her cheeks and ate better that day then she had in over 6 months. We couldn’t keep her off the dance floor. It’s funny whenever I wanted to feel bad or say “I can’t” I would look at the picture of her dancing at my wedding and say “Hell yeah you can,” and I just did.
SF: Do you have motto or mantra?
Sharon: YES! I always say my motto is “Heaven doesn’t want me and Hell is afraid I am going to take over so really where am I going to go?”
Thank you so much, dear Sharon, and it is an honor to celebrate you as our Extraordinary Person sharing your story!
Left to Right: Eddie Egan (Gabe), Bets Malone (Diana) and Robert J. Townsend (Dan)
Photo Credit: John Howard
San Diego Musical Theatre’s NEXT TO NORMAL,
(Production runs through October 12, 2014 at the North Park Theatre)
NEXT TO NORMAL tells the story of a mother, Diana Goodman, who struggles with bipolar disorder and the effect that her illness has on her family. This contemporary musical is an emotional powerhouse that addresses such issues as grieving a loss, ethics in modern psychiatry, and suburban life. With provocative lyrics and a thrilling score, this musical shows how far two parents will go to keep themselves sane and their family’s world intact.
Directed by Nick DeGruccio with Musical Direction by Don LeMaster. Cast includes: Bets Malone*, Robert J. Townsend*, Eddie Egan*, Lindsay Joan, Eric Michael Parker and Geno Carr* (*- Member, Actors Equity Association).
October 5-11 is National Mental Health Awareness Week…San Diego Musical Theatre‘s current highly acclaimed production, NEXT TO NORMAL (with only two more weekends at the North Park Theatre, which closes October 12), boldly addresses several mental health issues…and SDMT is donating 10% of funds raised at the theatre during the run of NEXT TO NORMAL with their new fundraising campaign: “YOU GIVE…WE GIVE” to these Non-Profits : The National Alliance on Mental Illness http://www.nami.org/ and the San Diego Chapter and International Bipolar Foundation http://ibpf.org/.
Here is a video montage of SDMT’s Opening Night of NEXT TO NORMAL
and the “Meet the Cast” video:
For more information: SDMT website: www.sdmt.org or 858-560-5740.