Dress rehearsal week and chemo treatment time! What a combination!
My first dress rehearsal on Monday went ok. It’s amazing how heavy these period costumes are! Plus the fact that we are to wear corsets with them….. makes it even harder! But I made it through! Since the show is double cast, I will only have one more dress rehearsal. The other cast will do them on the other nights. Then we both have 1 preview performance this week.
Tuesday was treatment day. Oh goodie….. but it has to be done! My blood counts weren’t great. My white counts were still low but not as low as the week before. At least acceptable for treatment. The nurse said my red blood counts were quite low too this time. Not quite low enough for a blood transfusion…. but close.
You don’t always get the same nurse to treat you every time you go in. As the nurse that was working with me this time got to know my case and heard that I had been in the emergency room the last time I had treatment, she suddenly said, “Oh, you’re the one we we’re all talking about!”
Apparently, the nurse that was working with me the last time had said something to the other nurses about how surprised she was that the doctor had said to go ahead and treat me even though my white blood counts were so low when I had been in last time. She told the other nurses I was going to end up in the hospital….. and of course she was right!
So my current nurse had gone into talk to the doctor and told him that she thought I should have a shot of Neulasta to help my white blood count build back up faster. I had heard that those shots were expensive….. but I was a little shocked when the bill came for the shot….. ridiculous! Our medical costs in this country are atrocious! The best part was that my doctor had agreed to let me have a few extra weeks off treatment so I ‘d have the strength to make it through my shows! I am so grateful for his understanding! What a difference it made to me!
Anyway…. I came back the next day for the shot. I think it did help in the long run. That night I had my next dress rehearsal. Again… it went ok, but it was hard. Having the energy I needed was getting difficult. In fact, the producer of the show was worried that they may need to call someone else in to learn the part because there was no way my counterpart could cover for me every night if I needed it. I told him that my plan was to do all my shows. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but that was my plan. I also told him that I had known for a long time that I was suppose to do this show. I just felt confident that I would be blessed to get through it. He finally decided to have my faith and proceed without finding an understudy.
By the time Friday night rolled around, which was my preview night….. I was starting to feel a little weak again, but knew I needed to get through the show. I had family coming and needed to do it. My performance wasn’t stellar, but it was pretty good, considering I had just had treatment 3 days before. I had my husband film my songs only. Just for me to have for posterity. I understand the copy right laws and all when it comes to filming live performances, but I HATE the fact that it doesn’t give you a way to save the experience! It’s one of those things that you have to draw the line on somewhere because you always have people that will abuse the copyright and try to make money with it. Anyway….. I wanted to hear how I did on my songs, so this was the best night to try and do it.
My family loved the show. I’m not sure my Mom understood everything. She has a hard time hearing now…. but I still think she enjoyed it. She’s always been very supportive of everything I’ve done. This whole thing with me is very hard on her.
When Saturday hit…. I was feeling OK. We went to a softball team BBQ later that day for my husband’s team and then stopped by the other casts preview performance. I was very tired by the end of the evening and was ready to go home. As has been typical for me, the Sunday after treatment I didn’t feel well enough to go to church. It seems to hit me worse by the 5th or 6th day. I knew I would need to pray for help to get me through the next week for my opening!
On Monday, before we left to go to the theater, I had my husband give me a Priesthood blessing to ask Father in Heaven to help me get through my show. I knew I would need it. I was starting to feel the weakness even more…. but I was determined to get through!
The cast was wonderful to me…. everyone praying on my behalf and encouraging me all along the way. It was one of the most difficult performances I have ever been through. I literally had to pray for strength every time I went on stage. It was all I could do to get through every scene. Getting up the stairs on the set was SO hard! Every time I would come off stage, I would have to sit down and breath slowly and get my strength back for the next scene. I was relying on my coconut water to help me keep my electrolytes up too. I made it through the show…. again, not my most stellar performance, but I don’t think most of the audience even knew I was having a problem. I truly felt the strength from Heaven that night.
The next day I did a lot of resting! I finally had a night off that I didn’t need to be at the theater! It was the other casts opening night, so I didn’t need to go. I believe I took advantage of it too.
Still feeling rather weak the next day….. again I had my husband give me a blessing to make it through the show that night. Let me just say here again…. I could never had done this without my husbands support! I had to have him drive me to my shows every night for the first week or so. He did miss my opening night, however, because of softball. Mondays are his softball nights. I was sad he couldn’t come but knew he would be coming to several shows for a while because I would need him to drive me. He came with me on Wednesday and on Friday. Those were hard shows too. Priesthood blessings are what got me through. I could feel a little more strength each night. It was good to get that first hard week over!
Well…. back to being anal about the Parade of Homes! This was the last weekend to see the Park City Parade of homes. I was determined to go. I figured if I could make it through 3 two hour shows all week long…. with a lot of help from my husband and some resting time in-between….. we ought to be able to make it through 11 homes. They usually have many more than that, but this year there were only 11. I knew we could finish up on Monday, Labor day, if we needed….. but I really figured we could get them all in on Saturday, plus it would save us money in gas not to have to go back. We had time to take the time we needed to go slow if I needed rest. I’m glad we did. I really enjoyed it. My good friend Laurie sent me a text not long after we had started looking at the homes and asked about the Parade. She and her hubby were thinking of going. Since they live in Utah County….. we decided to meet in Heber City and look at the homes there together. We had just finished with the ones in the Park City area and meet them at home #8 in Heber. It was fun. We took a nice lunch break with them after a couple of homes there and then finished the Heber area together. We had planned on driving back home down Provo canyon. From that point….it’s actually faster getting back to Riverton that way. Besides…. I LOVE that canyon! It’s beautiful and particularly beautiful this time of year! That’s honestly one of the reasons I love doing the Park City Parade of homes. The trees in the valley haven’t usually started to turn yet and getting in the canyon gives you those wonderful colors! It was a great day. I was tired by the end of the day. John had to ‘push’ me up the stairs again. So many of the homes have many levels. But we did it and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was a nice break from all the rehearsing and shows. Plus…. I knew I would be feeling better!
I forgot to mention that I did have some friends come to every show that first week. That’s one reason I knew I had to get through them! I couldn’t let my friends down! Especially when they have come specifically to see you! I so appreciated the support I got through the whole run! I had someone I knew there almost every night!
We made it to church on Sunday….again, we only stayed for Sacrament meeting, but we got there! Monday… I had another blessing and John was able to take me since it was Labor day and no games were scheduled. I was a little tired and weak after the show… so I was glad he was there! I’ve been truly blessed through this whole thing. I felt like the shows were getting a little easier each time and I was starting to feel a little better. It’s amazing how long it takes for you body to recover from that silly poison! I did make a few stops before the shows to pick up some Cafe Rio Tortilla soup….. usually when hubby wasn’t with me! I still think it helps me! I always had my coconut water and regular (well… alkaline) water with me. I kept a little bag of almonds with me and always took a couple of cheese sticks with me so I had some protein to munch on if I needed it.
I should have kept better track…. but I think John came with me again on Wednesday. He wouldn’t be able to come Friday because that’s when they were making up ballgames because of Labor Day. I was feeling stronger every performance. Still not like myself…. but stronger. It was amazing to me how much strength it took for me to sing my songs. Especially the last one. There’s so much passion and emotion to that song…… it was draining to me! But I loved every minute of it! I was so blessed to be a part of such a amazingly talented cast. I was inspired by them every night!
Week three of the show was still getting better! I ventured out on my own the first two nights. Of course, Monday John had softball so I would have had to anyway…. I tried to take Mondays to stop by and see my Mom for a few minutes before the show. I believe it was this Monday that I stopped and I was wearing a hat and scarf. My Mom was sitting in the dining room as I walked up and sat down. She said “Hi” as I approached and when I sat down she looked at me and said, “How do I know you?” Oh boy…. I was worried the dementia was really setting in! I said, “Really, Mom?” When she heard my voice, she knew who I was….. I guess the hat and scarf was too much of a disguise for her! Her dementia is getting a little worse, so I was concerned, but a little later when her friends that sit at the same table with her walked into the dining room…. they didn’t recognize me for a minute either…. so I guess it’s just a good disguise! Actually…. no matter if it’s a wig or scarf… I’ve had a lot of people not know me. It just comes with the territory! You have to say something to them before it clicks. They get used to seeing you one way and it takes a minute to register a new look!
But I’ve had fun with all the different looks I’ve had! With many donations from friends of scarfs, hats and even wigs…. I’ve had fun! The only bad part is not all my clothes match the things I’ve been lent…. so I have to try my best to make my clothes work with the scarfs. When it’s impossible… it’s wig time! I have three different lengths of wigs so it’s fun to mix it up a little. Though the really short one seems to be my most ‘go to’ choice! Maybe I’ll take some pictures and post them here.
So… I ventured out on my own again on Wednesday, but I made John come with me on Friday. Mostly because several of his softball team members and wives had made plans to come that night, so I figured he should be there! Besides…. that ended up being the last night he made it. I was SO disappointed (OK… Mad!) he couldn’t come to my closing night….. because of make up ball games…. but we won’t to into that here. I had him record my songs that night using my iPhone. He didn’t want to point the camera and get in trouble, so it was just audio. I wanted to compare how I sounded from what he had recorded on my preview performance when I wasn’t feeling so good…. to how I sounded when I felt much better. I haven’t taken the time to ‘compare’ yet…. but I’m pretty sure my vocals we much stronger in the later shows. In fact… I know they were!
The final week. Oh my goodness! Though feeling SO much better now…. like almost back to my real self…. this was a hard week! Just knowing the show was almost over made me so sad! It’s so hard for me to explain what a blessing this has been in my life. I believe that if I hadn’t been going through what I am…. it would have been a very different experience. It would have been a wonderful experience… no doubt…. but just not the same as I have had. The cast was so supportive of me and my condition! On opening night, my wonderful counterpart, Maurie, had put together the sweetest gift for me from the cast! She had asked the cast to write down there favorite inspiring quotes and thoughts on small pieces of paper that they had folded up and put into a cute jar. They were thoughts to inspire me everyday and get me through this thing! I opted to leave them at the theater and read some of them every night before each show rather than bring them home. What a blessing that was and how tender so many of them were. Some of them were personal notes to me which meant so much! It was just another tender mercy from the Lord to help me through!
Things like that made this experience so special! It really will be one that I will NEVER forget! Plus… not only working with a stellar cast, but the part itself was meaty and meaningful! What a wonderful character to be able to portray! And the songs…. oh my goodness! Wonderful music and words… and words that had extra special meaning to me! I realized at the call backs as we were singing the songs that those words were meant for me!!!! I feel like I need to share then with you so you can understand. Particularly the final song I sing to Jo. It’s after Beth has died and Jo is having a hard time coping and turns to Marmee for strength. Not feeling as strong as she thinks I am… this is what I sang. It’s called ‘Days of Plenty’.
Don’t make so much of me Jo… (spoken)
I never dreamed of this sorrow,
I never thought I’d have reason to lament,
I hoped I’d never know heartbreak,
How I wish I could change the way things went!
I wanted nothing but goodness,
I wanted reason to prevail,
Not this bare emptyness.
I wanted Days of Plenty.
But I refused to feel tragic,
I am aching for more than pain and grief.
There has got to be meaning,
Most of all when a life has been so brief.
I have got to learn something,
How can I give her any less?
I want life to go on.
I want Days of Plenty
You have to Believe,
There is reason for Hope.
You have to Believe
That the answers will come.
You can’t let this defeat you.
I won’t less this defeat you.
You must fight to keep her there,
So Believe that she matters!
And Believe that she always will!
She will always be with you!
She’ll be part of the days you’ve yet to fill!
She will live in your bounty!
She will live as you carry on your life!
So carry on,
Full of Hope,
She’ll be there,
For all your Days of Plenty
See how so many of those words could be turned to me and what I was going through? I even had people who knew my situation tell me after the show they don’t know how I did it and all they could think of was me during the song! But…. thankfully you are in ‘actors mode’ when you are onstage. That’s truly what got me through! My other song had some applicable words too…. but not as much as ‘Days of Plenty’.
Closing week was a heartbreaker…. particularly closing night! That’s why I was so bummed my hubby didn’t make it…. no one in my family actually came that night. Most of them had other things going and couldn’t. I was sad because I really felt this was my VERY best performance! I was feeling so strong physically… and my emotions were running so high that I felt my whole performance was top notch! Getting through my final song was tricky! I was so worried that I would cry! My cute Jo was crying during the whole song. I felt my Marmee kick in and take over. After all…. that’s what Jo was saying… that Marmee was strong and I knew I had to be strong for her! If Wanda mode had taken over…. it would have been messy and tearful and hard to understand, if at all, and I knew that wasn’t fair to the audience! I was grateful Marmee took over! At the end of the song we both sobbed for a minute though! But that was an appropriate time to do it! What a show. Really! Everyone in the cast was top notch that night! I will sorely miss these talented people and this wonderful experience!
The following night there was a cast party planned following the other casts final performance. It was at a cast members house from my cast. It was a ‘bring something to share’ kind of deal. I asked Chris (the host) if she thought soup would be a good thing. She said that would be great! Most of the time people don’t bring much of anything substantial to eat….mostly just treats and snacks. So I whipped up a BIG pot of my Taco Soup. It’s a good recipe! If you want to try it click here.
My husband had agreed to come with me to the party and since we had to drive out to Centerville for it anyway…. we decided to go support the other cast and their closing night…. so we dropped off the soup at Chris’s house before the show. That way it could stay warm and the cheese and sour cream could stay cold!
It was a great closing night for the other cast too. They were a little emotional too! What a great show….. Little Women the Musical is a wonderful show! So many people left that theater having experienced something they weren’t expecting. They weren’t expecting to be moved they way they were. It’s a great story!
The cast party was fun! Almost everyone from both casts dropped by for a minute. The soup was a hit as well as all the other things there! Great delicious pies from our director….. wonderful homemade meatballs from Chris and lots of other good things! Especially the company! I was kind of surprised that they last people to leave were us ‘old fogies’! It just worked out that way! We got into a conversation and before we knew it all the youngsters had left! I think it was 2 am before John and I got home! But it was great! I’m grateful for Facebook so I can keep up with all these new wonderful people in my life!