As you probably well know, October is breast cancer awareness week. Ravishly has reached out to important voices throughout the vast community of breast cancer survivors, and today we bring you Amy Marcs, the woman behind the one-woman show "Nice T!ts." The show features bits and pieces from Amy's own breast cancer diagnosis and resulting mastectomy, with more than a few laughs thrown in. We talked with her about the power of comedy, the trouble with pinkwashing, and what it's like to be in your own one woman show.
Tell us about your experience with breast cancer. How did you come to the decision to turn that experience into a show?
My experience with breast cancer began in 2008 when I had a lumpectomy after being diagnosed with DCIS, a non-invasive breast cancer that doesn’t spread beyond the milk ducts. Because of that diagnosis, I was checked every three months, with a mammogram, a sonogram, and an MRI. In September of 2009 something suspicious showed up on my MRI, which turned out to be cancer. On October 13, 2009 I underwent a double mastectomy. My mother died of breast cancer when she was only 51, so at this point I felt that was the best choice for me. After surgery, I started to journal about my experience. Two years later I decided to turn those writings into a one woman show. "Nice T!ts" is the story of my undergoing a double mastectomy and searching for the perfect pair of new boobs. My story is about the resiliency of the human spirit and finding self-acceptance, love, and hope in a very traumatic situation.
"Nice T!ts" is a one woman show –– it has a stronger performance element than a traditional stand-up routine would. What made you decide on this format?
Since I am more of a comedic actress than a stand-up, I knew that a play format was a better choice for me. That being said, there is still a strong improvisational feel to my show. I do break the fourth wall and make direct contact with the audience. I love this, and it also gives a feeling of spontaneity to the piece, and makes the audience feel more a part of it.
What do you think of the Save the Boobies campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness? It has all the best intentions but their message alienates many women who’ve undergone mastectomies, as a result of having breast cancer.
I am aware of the Save the Boobies campaign and personally don’t feel alienated by them. That being said, I can certainly understand why it would upset some women. Breast cancer is such a personal experience and different people are going to be triggered by different things. My take is that if it raises awareness and all the money goes to the cause, then I don’t have a problem with it. Boobs are everywhere, and unfortunately we live in a society where women are overly sexualized. As a woman who has undergone a double mastectomy I have to come to terms and accept that, and truthfully life is too short and precious for me to waste my time and energy getting upset over it. That is one of the reasons for writing my show, for women to know that they are still beautiful vibrant and sexy even after a double mastectomy, and no disease or surgery should ever take that away from us.
How did comedy and performance help you during and after your treatment?
Comedy has helped me through some very challenging times in my life. It is an extremely powerful vehicle for self-expression. I also think comedy is a great icebreaker and can help people feel more comfortable discussing difficult and uncomfortable subjects. The power of laughter should never be underestimated.
What do you think about the pinkwashing issue in breast cancer awareness?
I’m not a fan of pinkwashing when all of the money raised doesn’t go directly to the cause. For me, I prefer to donate to grass roots organizations or to attend benefits to help women who have been financially rocked by this disease. The last thing someone going through treatment needs is to worry about how to pay their bills. If I can help relieve that stress is any way then I will. In the near future I also plan on doing benefit performances to help raise money to donate to some of these grass roots organizations.