One show at this year's Adelaide Fringe Festival explores the true stories of four strong women touched by breast cancer. Science Reporter CLARE PEDDIE talks to the show's creator, with a prominent Adelaide breast cancer researcher, Associate Professor Wendy Ingman, about what we can learn from them. Published in the Advertiser 25/2/2019
On Thursday 21st February, Casey and Wendy featured in a live Q&A, and were joined by an Adelaide mum living with terminal breast cancer, Kristy Woodlands, at Holden Street Theatres. The discussion followed the evening's intimate theatre performance of "The Archive of Educated Hearts".
MRS WOODLANDS: We always said when we retired we were going to travel Australia, so now that's pretty much what we do, we go away and spend time together, whereas before like most other families it was all about work and planning for retirement.
DR INGMAN: Yes, having a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis doesn’t mean you’re about to die necessarily. With treatments women can live ten years or more sometimes with a cancer kept in check by therapies. Women can actually be quite well and travel the world.
MS ANDREWS: Speaking to these women has shed light on the different, positive ways you can respond: Choosing to live in the moment and be spontaneous, because you never know what’s going to happen next; Leaving a legacy, something tangible, giving something of yourself to someone else to carry forward, after you’re gone; and, Just getting on with it, recognising there’s no big epiphany, no lightbulb moment, bad things happen and you can jump in a hole and hide, or get on with living your life, living well with cancer.
DR INGMAN: But there’s always this knowledge that they don’t know the future holds, it’s always waiting for the next appointment, a new symptom might appear, so there’s always this thing hanging over their heads.
MS ANDREWS: Some of the best advice comes from my Nan, who doesn’t have breast cancer but has five children with breast cancer: “Just be there and listen, that’s all you can do, you don’t have to respond.”
MRS WOODLANDS: We try to do as much as we can pretty much, before - we have every plan that I'll be around a very long time thanks to all this research and new drugs. But we've also had our fair share of bad news, so we understand that at any time that can change.
DR INGMAN: I always come away from talking to women with metastatic breast cancer with this reminder for my own life, about living for the day and appreciating what you have.
We all get caught up thinking long term and worrying about things that may or may not happen in the future.
It’s such a reminder that we all have this precious life and that we need to be making the most of every day. That’s one of the things I really love about this Fringe performance, it’s a message that hopefully others will take from it, not just people with breast cancer, it’s essentially for everyone.