Cancer Survivor Dr. Nancy Rappaport to Read REGENERATION at Irvington Town Hall Theater
Psychiatrist and Harvard Medical School associate professor Nancy Rappaport is used to tending wounds. Just not her own. Diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2015 at age 55, Rappaport began writing because she believes "creating a narrative of our trauma is a necessary part of healing." Regeneration is the remarkable product of recovery contemplations by a doctor/wife/mother of three-art spun from a survivor's pink ribbon journey.
Town Hall Theater Commissioner Laurie Chock says, "Harvard Professor, psychiatrist, poet, author, and now breast cancer survivor and playwright, Nancy Rappaport, in her one-woman show, astounds us with her ability to find the absurd, the funny, the profound, and the heart-warming in her journey from cancer back to health."
Dr. Nancy Rappaport is an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a child psychiatrist at the Cambridge Health Alliance. She has worked for 23 years with the Cambridge Public Schools at a school-based health center, where she develops concrete strategies for struggling students and offers professional development for teachers. Dr. Rappaport's memoir, In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother's Suicide, received the Julia Ward Howe Book Award from the Boston Authors Club. She's co-author of The Behavior Code, a guidebook for teachers who work with challenging kids.
Part play and part poetry, Regeneration tells her story both straight and slant. In one scene, an operating nurse hands Rappaport a box of tissues and says, "You needed your breasts to breastfeed. Now that's done. You have cancer and they need to be removed." Rappaport considers reconstructive surgery options with steely-eyed clarity: silicone sac, muscle graft ... or perhaps a mastectomy tattoo? She declines all, at least for now. "Oh leave me be," she says in the final couplet of a scene titled Scarred Canvas. "No mask for me."
Although Rappaport labels herself "100% recovered," she continues to ponder her own mortality. "I am not sure I have totally accepted it," she admits. "I'd say that I am now looking at it closely." After decades as a hard-charging New England professional-a marathoner, no less!-Rappaport says she is learning "to make an investment in being present in the life I am living."
Rappaport acknowledges that she may be tempting fate by taking her tender recovery so public with Regeneration-in October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Yet she says, "This is what the living do.... I live in my body. My body tells the story."
Words matter to Rappaport, who will share them onstage and afterward in a Q&A with the audience on October 16 at 3pm at the Irvington Town Hall Theater, 85 Main Street, Irvington NY. All tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at www.irvingtontheater.com.