This week’s blog post is part 3 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, what was the impetus behind calling your chemotherapy “healing therapy?”
Marin: When I knew I was going to have to go through 24 weeks of chemo I just needed to make it a positive, healing thing for me. So many people talk about it as “poison” but I couldn’t think of it that way. I have a very interactive approach between my mind and my body. Every week I welcomed the “healing elixir” into my veins. I would “bless” everything (drugs, nurses, bed, instruments, building etc) in my mind and envision the HT coursing through my veins and literally “eating up” the cancer. At my first treatment my brother Mark was with me. As I lay in my treatment suite, our wonderful nurse Sara explained all the pre-drips and what was going to happen. Mark googled Paclitaxel, which I got every week, and found out that it was made from the bark of the Yew Tree from Northern California and that Carboplatin, which I got every 3 weeks, was made from platinum. I immediately started referring to them as my “tree bark and platinum”. The fact that a tree was healing me was so meaningful to me as I am a tree person and we have a house in the lower Berkshires that is surrounded by 5 acres of trees so this became a significant symbol for my healing. Healing Therapy just made so much more sense to me and it was how I needed to think of it to cope with it.
Q: Jason, in your blog post, “Caregiver, Caregiver, give care to yourself!” you mention that you are constantly adjusting to a “new normal” now that the cancer is gone and that you must remind yourselves to “Breathe, Live in the moment and Don’t worry over things you can’t control.” What recommendations would you give to people that are also learning to adjust to their new normal?
Jason: I wish I had some sort of solid advice but adjusting to the “new normal” is very subjective. I write to help purge my mind of ideas, thoughts, fears etc. It’s therapeutic and sometimes enlightening. I also run long distances. I usually run for fitness, which, of course, I am still benefiting there, I run to memorize lines or songs for a show I’m rehearsing but of late I’ve been running without headphones, without lines or lyrics bouncing around in my head just purely to let my mind unravel. I have thought a lot about mortality. My father passed away three years ago from a brain hemorrhage, my mother has had a brain tumor and breast cancer, I’ve had three friends, in nine months die of cancer. It is overwhelming. I not only allow myself but also NEED to go running to let my psyche ruminate on it all, to get mad as hell or weepy and hopefully purge it from my immediate place on this journey.
Being in the moment also means to allow myself to fear but know that the very next moment can be full of joy from an unrelated thought or experience. It’s very important to not shut yourself off from the positive because you feel like you should be in some sort of gray shroud of change. Life goes on and you need to allow the good in.
Q: Jason, what was the biggest challenge for you as a caregiver?
Jason: Biggest challenge? Not getting depressed.
Q: Jason, what is the most important piece of advice you would give to other caregivers?
Jason: What is the most important piece of advice I could give caregivers? Make sure you have someone to talk to, someone you can be completely honest and open with, someone who will listen and not judge, someone who won’t “have the answers” but just allow you to speak what’s on your mind, your fears, your concerns your worries.
Also, don’t judge yourself. Don't put the added and unnecessary pressure of judging how you are taking care of your partner. You don’t have a rulebook or tool kit that prepares you for this. You are doing your best with what you have in your being at the time.