Nfld. & Labrador

New play shares real experiences of women diagnosed with breast cancer

The Cut of It by Meghan Greeley is based on research by Dr. Kathleen Sitter, an adjunct professor in Memorial University's faculty of medicine.

Meghan Greeley wrote The Cut of It by compiling stories from medical research

From left: Meghan Greeley, Amy Kavanagh-Penney and Natalie Beausoleil are bringing The Cut of It to the LSPU Hall in St. John's from Nov. 7-10. (Janelle Simms/CBC)

A play opening Thursday night at the LSPU Hall shares the real stories of women of Newfoundland and Labrador who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The Cut of It by Meghan Greeley is based on research by University of Calgary associate professor Dr. Kathleen Sitter, also an adjunct professor in Memorial University's faculty of medicine.

"It's a really up and down roller-coaster ride, going through breast cancer. This has been something that has lifted me up every time I felt like I was coming down," said Amy Kavanagh-Penney, who will be both a performer and biographical storyteller during the show's four-day run in St. John's. 

"It was really a great form of therapy to voice my experience and know that it was going to health-care professionals so that they could see the perspective of the patient more clearly." 

The stories compiled by Sitter and her research team were structured into a script by Greeley.

Greeley said it took a bit of planning just to figure out where to begin, based on the wealth of material she had to work with. 

Eighteen stories from breast cancer patients needed to be woven into just one dramatic stage piece.

The Cut of It opens Thursday and will run until Sunday. (CBC)

"They were all very different, but there were also a lot of similarities in the stories that became apparent pretty quickly, of common themes, common experiences, of women trying to figure out how to navigate this journey," Greeley said.

The common threads from each voice, according to Greeley, were pain, doubt, questioning of medical decisions and physical appearance stigma. 

But there was more than that.

"Something I noticed very quickly is that these stories weren't necessarily sad ones. There was a lot of joy, and a lot of love and a lot of humour in these stories," she said. 

"That's something that I wanted to have in the script as well. I wanted to make sure that even though the play deals with tough subject matter, there would be a broad scope of human experience."

Sitter's team will also release a report on the patients' stories at the end of November, which will also include recommendations for Eastern Health.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show