Barbara Welch had been her best friend’s cancer-patient support for three years before she became one herself. “Cancer: A Common Bond” and "Busted" are two plays about dealing with breast cancer that will be presented in Rockford during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Barbara Welch had been her best friend’s cancer-patient support for three years before she became one herself.
“Cancer: A Common Bond,” a play Welch wrote about their experiences battling the disease, returns for its second performance at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, at Ellis Arts Academy, 222 S. Central Ave. It is the first of two plays about dealing with breast cancer that will be presented in Rockford during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The second is “Busted,” a play written and acted by Rockford native Nancy Heerens-Knudson scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, in Funderberg Auditorium at Rockford Memorial Hospital, 2400 N. Rockton Ave.
“We talked about my writing this,” said Welch, who dedicated her play to her friend Ida Watson-Freeman. “She said why don’t you write a play on cancer about our story. I didn’t pay much attention. Even though she was going through it, I never thought she was going to, you know, die from it.”
Welch, who has written 10 other plays, moved from Racine, Wis., to Rockford in 2005. A few months later, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
When Watson-Freeman died after her battle with breast cancer in March 2006, Welch began writing.
The real shock, Welch said, was how quickly Watson-Freeman’s death came. “It seemed like they had been getting the little nodules and things out,” she said, “and, every time I would get my chemotherapy treatment, she would call me. She prepared me for the hair loss, the numbness and the loss of mobility.
“She would tell me what was happening to her and what to look for. It was a big help to me.”
Welch said the three-act play is performed by a cast of nine in about two hours with a 20-minute intermission. The event also will include a presentation by radiation oncology nurse Carolyn Gray-Redmond for the American Cancer Society
Welch said the play’s central message is “don’t be afraid to go and have the annual screenings, whether it be for breast cancer or for prostate cancer for me, and don’t shut yourself away.
“There are so many people, I have discovered, who don’t want to discuss what they’re going through. I know people look at it as private, but I was helped so much by sharing what I was going through.”
“Busted” is a one-woman show based Heerens-Knudson’s two decades of living with breast cancer. It parallels the painful and sometimes hilarious experiences of women as they deal with biopsy, surgery, aggressive medical therapies, family role changes and doubts about survival.
“I sighed over the cleavage demise,” Heerens-Knudson said. “I was intrigued, however, by the thought of being able to run around the backyard with my shirt off like a guy. If one has no breasts, can one break the law by appearing topless?”
Heerlens-Knudsen is a certified physician assistant and has worked as a mental health counselor.
The performance is dedicated to her mother, Marty Heerens, and two her mother’s two best friends, Judy Mucha and Helen Seeley, both of whom died of breast cancer.
Mike DeDoncker can be reached at (815) 987-1382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Cancer: A Common Bond”
Where: Ellis Arts Academy, 222 S. Central Ave.
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4
Tickets: Adults $20 in advance, $25 at the door, children $15 in advance $20 at the door.
Call: 815-963-8369 or 815-964-2580 for tickets or more information.
Where: Funderberg Auditorium, Rockford Memorial Hospital, 2400 N. Rockton Ave.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29
Tickets: $25 at Womanspace, 3333 Maria Linden Drive. Call 815-877-0118 to pick up tickets from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays though Thursdays or visit Womanspace-rockford.org to purchase tickets via PayPal
More information: Call 815-877-0118 or e-mail email@example.com.