This week’s blog post is part 2 in a Q&A series with Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley. Marin and Jason will be honored with the Founders Award for Empowerment at CSC’s Spring Celebration next Thursday. Known as, “Broadway’s golden couple,” Marin Mazzie- a Tony-nominated veteran of the Broadway stage, and her husband and fellow Broadway performer Jason Danieley, worked together to support each other when Marin was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May, 2015. Equipped with her optimism and strength of will and the love and support of her devoted husband, Marin was back to performing last December, and will assume the role of Anna Leonowens in The King and I this coming May.
Q: Marin, can you describe the feeling you had when you stepped back onto the stage to perform?
Marin: The first time I stepped onstage during my treatments was in July and it was after I had done 12 weeks of HT and was on my break before my surgery. At this point not very many people knew I had cancer. We were performing at a gala for The Barrington Stage Theatre Comapany in Pittsfield,MA where I had played “Blanche” in STREETCAR a few seasons back. I was still feeling tired so when we rehearsed that afternoon I sat on a couch. When I stepped on the stage for the performance, I had my fabulous Paul Huntley wig on and there was Jason singing with me and the 90 minutes we sang were probably some of the most profound moments I have had in my career. We were singing many things we had done before, but everything took on a new meaning and weight that was quite palpable not only for us, but for the audience too. Our friends that were there and knew were just in tears and the rest of the audience was ecstatic, so it really felt like a magical night. I felt so good while I was singing. It made me know that I was going to heal and get back onstage because that is one of the reasons I was put on this earth. To share my gifts and I knew I wasn’t done. It really buoyed me heading into my surgery and then more HT after that.
Q: What activities did you all do together to keep one another grounded and calm during Marin’s treatment?
Jason: I can’t say that we had any specific activities to keep us grounded but we do talk a lot, very openly about where each of us are in our day, in that minute, so that the other knows exactly what we are going through. Alone time is very important as well. If Marin needs space, I give it to her, if she needs me there I try to be there, if I can’t because I need “me” time, she understands… I think this is all connected to “being in the moment. We both have our own variation on meditation, mine is running and Marin’s is a more traditional method. I think that was paramount in keeping us grounded.
Q: How did you go about telling your family and loved ones?
Jason: I think this is an important question that not everyone handles in the same way. I think it all depends on who your family and friends are but hopefully you have a group of people who love you and you can do this. We just started calling and texting and emailing everyone, within reason, of course, a large-intimate group of people who we knew would open up their arms and hearts and immediately support us through this journey.
I would write emails to this group giving them updates not unlike my blog page with photos and anecdotes, stories of the day or the week about Marin’s progress. Then the emails and phone calls and texts would pour in and it was almost like another form of the treatment. Where the chemo (aka Healing Treatment) would make Marin feel crappy, these texts and emails would be a major anti-nausea pill and booster shot right into the arm. That helped the healing process immeasurably.
Q: What is your advice to those that have been newly diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers?
Jason: My advice for those who are newly diagnosed and the caregivers is to not go on the Internet and read every little thing you can about your specific cancer. Don’t go to pages or open forums where people share their experiences because there generally isn’t a filter for you that can protect you from someone else’s very unique experience. Yours may not be that difficult a journey and on the other hand yours may be more difficult. If you trust your doctor, surgeon, oncologist and hospital take the moment-to-moment journey with them and experience only what you are going through. That's what worked for us. We didn’t need to carry other people’s worries and concerns or wait on baited breath for the other shoe to drop because someone else’s shoe dropped. You may be able to keep on this journey without losing a shoe.