The Show Must Go On

Last updated: December 2022

One of the silver linings that has come out of having blood cancer is learning how to integrate myself into acting again and being able to help others do the same.

I had lost hope for a while

Being in any production be it film, theatre or musical theatre requires a lot of your time and energy. Physical, mental and emotional. All things that had been drained from me after my battle with cancer.

Even recently I had been very apprehensive to jump back into the world of auditioning. I had done a little film work here and there, but it wasn’t anything that required months of my time for rehearsals. My body is unreliable and I didn’t want to be seen as unprofessional because I had to take a break from pain or nausea every 30 minutes or so.

My friends pushed me, I had their support

My friends know how much acting and singing mean to me and how hard I had trained to be able to do both. “You should audition.” “You should try.” “I think you could do it.” Eventually I could, but how?

Slowly I learned my body and how it reacted to things. When I had to eat, what could I eat that wouldn’t make me feel pain, how much energy I had to conserve the day before and of, etc. I learned to speak the language of my body.

Slowly I was able to take my dreams back and live them out. It’s still a slow process but I’m doing it. I’m actually in a musical right now! Singing, dancing, acting, and holding/moving scenery. I love every second of being on stage. Granted, there are still days where things just happen no matter how much I prepare and I have to let my director know. But there are good people out there who understand and are willing to work with you.

So how do you do it?

I think learning how to read your body is the first step. Understanding how you need to prep for the days. Auditions, call backs, rehearsals, etc. You know you and what you need. Try keeping a journal of your symptoms and see if there are any patterns.

Be upfront with the people in charge of the projects you audition for. I would say after you get the part (because it’s not usually appropriate to explain in an audition setting unless they ask), make it clear that you have medical conditions that might require you to take an extra break or that you’ll have medicine you’ll need to take or whatever it may be. I feel like most people will be understanding and, if they aren’t, do you really want to work with those kinds of people?

Of course you can’t give up on yourself either. Having a thick skin is crucial in this business because of the amount of rejections you will face. But you will get a part. You’ll get many parts, you just have to keep trying.

Same goes with dealing with our illnesses. One day at a time. I was at a point where I couldn’t even sing my high notes anymore because of how out of breath I would get. Now I worry that I’m going to bother my neighbors with my higher register.

I can dance across a stage again when months ago I couldn’t even get out of bed because I was in too much pain. Things can change and you can get back to the things you loved before you were sick. Even if it’s in small ways. It doesn’t have to be as drastic as my story.

I could write many chapters of how I think you could properly integrate yourself again but since I only have a 700 word limit this will have to sum it up for now. I’d love to answer any questions you may have!

Warm wishes, Katelynn

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