Caldwell, Burke Relay for Life join to bring play onstage

Aug. 16, 2013 @ 05:34 AM

There’s something about being a cancer survivor that bonds you with others who have survived the same thing, said Julie Overby, co-chair of Caldwell County Relay for Life.

That’s what “The Pirates of the Chemotherapy” is about. And it’s teamwork, too, that will bring the play to the area this weekend.

Caldwell County and Burke County’s Relay for Life chapters teamed up to bring the show, which focuses on six breast cancer survivors, to the Old Rock School in Valdese at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10, or $9 for seniors older than 65. Profits benefit Relay for Life.

It all started as an accident. Janis Rogers, the co-chair of Burke Relay for Life, stumbled across a Facebook status from someone who was going to see the show, noticing it because of the title – “Anything with cancer or chemotherapy or those buzzwords just hits us,” she said.

Rogers did a little Googling, called the production company behind the play and asked if they ever toured with the show.

They never had, but said they would.

Rogers didn’t think she could fill the theater on her own, so she reached out to Relay for Life chapters in other areas. Overby and Caldwell County Relay for Life rose to the challenge.  

Six actresses will donate their time for Saturday’s show, which is a dramatic comedy focusing on six survivors who come – some against their will – to a breast cancer support group.

“You have six women from various walks of life,” Overby said. “You have someone who’s young, someone who’s older, someone who’s bitter, someone who’s better, someone who’s extremely optimistic. So it takes and meshes all of these different personalities and shows that all of these women, even though they’re very different, the thing that they have in common is breast cancer.”

Most of the play shows the women sitting in chairs, which, in this case, were donated by four local manufacturers: McCreary Modern and Century Furniture in Lenoir, Drexel Heritage in Morganton and Kellex Seating in Valdese.

Overby, who is a survivor herself, said she recognized her own experiences in the play.

“When you have had the diagnosis for cancer you experience this – it’s an instant bond when you realize that there’s somebody else who has gone through what you’re going through,” she said. “And even after you’re well past that point in your life, that initial diagnosis, it’s really great to be able to help other people.”

And it was joining forces that made Saturday’s play possible, both women said.

“We’ve never really done anything this big,” Rogers said. “The fact that we’re joining together, I think it just shows what the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life are all about: Joining together to raise money for cancer.”