Thoughts on “Wit” & Giving Back

Twenty years ago on March 7th, 1998 my husband, Randy, underwent a colon resection to remove a cancerous tumor that had finally been diagnosed a week earlier, two years after a misdiagnosis. Less than a year later he would undergo further surgery when half his liver (and some other non-vital organs) were resected to remove a metastasis that had gone undetected at the time of initial diagnosis and treatment. Randy’s years of treatment worked and we had good health coverage at the time which paid for most of the bills. Still he had to take extended time off work several times, and later had potential employers who ran the other way when they found out he had had cancer. On my end, the stress of being a primary caregiver and need (and desire) to take time off to accompany Randy to treatments and consultations impacted my ability to do my job. The return of the cancer in 1999 led us to seek treatment in Chicago and required expensive travel and extended stays away from home for chemo, surgery and other treatments. For years even after the cancer was officially undetectable, the fights to get bills paid by insurance companies continued and the stress roller coaster rides brought on by testing– first every three, then every six, then every 12 months tore at our emotional and fiscal wellbeing.

There are still ongoing repercussions to our cancer battle. We will never experience financial security in retirement. Though we would not trade our happy outcome for all the riches on earth, we both often discuss the financial hardships that families experiencing cancer have to undergo, especially in today’s environment of huge deductibles, rising premiums and shrinking coverage. Randy continues his work on the board of Colon Cancer Coalition and as a resource for newly diagnosed cancer patients through the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation. However, since we founded Ophelia’s Jump, we have both wanted to find a way for OJP to partner with a local charity that helps families deal with the financial stresses so they can concentrate on dealing with the cancer.

“Wit” is a brilliant piece that won the Pulitzer prize the year that Randy had his second surgery. I cannot remember exactly when I first read it, but I do know I could not put it down and that it touched me deeply for it’s authenticity and it’s keen focus on the humanity of one cancer patient’s story. I have wanted to direct this play for years, but I knew I wanted to wait until we had a space where I could give it the attention and the care it merits.

Now, it has finally become possible to pursue both our goals- to produce this play that documents and affirms some of the most jagged and piercing aspects of the cancer journey and to help families who are navigating through that treacherous course.

I am thrilled that we are able to partner with Megan’s Wings to raise money for families whose children have cancer. Megan’s Wings was founded in 2005 by the parents of 9 year old Megan Savage who had succumbed to leukemia in 2003. The charity assists families of children receiving cancer treatment at 9 Southern California hospitals and cancer centers. Through its volunteers and fundraising, Megan’s Wings helps shop, wrap and deliver care packages to families during the holidays, provides personal care and aid for caretakers, assists families in paying bills such as mortgage, utilities, travel, prescriptions and helps pays for funeral expenses.

Ophelia’s Jump has dedicated its entire run of “Wit” to help raise funds for Megan’s Wings. From now through the end of the run, anyone who pre-purchases a ticket can use the Code: “Megan” to direct $8 of the ticket price to the charity. The code will work for any performance but the ticket must be purchased at least 24 hours in advance either online or by calling the box office. In addition, Ophelia’s Jump is providing information about Megan’s Wings at every performance and will be accepting extra donations through a donation box at the studio.

Please join us for a truly powerful and touching performance by Kelly Ryan Kelly as Vivian Bearing and help us and Megan’s Wings help families focus on treatment so that we can increase the rate of seemingly miraculous outcomes like ours. Randy and I don’t want to be the exception. We want survival to be the rule so that these youngsters and their families can go on to live full lives and add their special stamp to the world as scientists, or social workers, or inventors or maybe even theatre artists.

Beatrice Casagran
Artistic Director
Ophelia’s Jump Productions

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