A2A Spotlight feature on Jamie Greenblatt as heard on KCBS and other CBS Radio News affiliates (Photo credit: Charley Lerrigo)
A2A Alliance founder Jeff Bell spotlights playwright Jamie Greenblatt and her journey from ovarian cancer to cancer awareness advocate.
To learn more about Jamie’s work, please read the below background:
In the summer of 2013, at age 58, Jamie Greenblatt was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She complained to her health care provider of digestive complaints. As part of the examination, she thought it odd when she was asked if she was Ashkenazi (a Jew of Eastern European heritage). Turns out that was a very important question to ask. Testing revealed that Jamie had ovarian cancer. With one in forty Ashkenazi Jews having the BRCA gene mutation, putting them at risk for both breast and ovarian cancer, this was a very important question to ask. There is no effective test for ovarian cancer and it can masquerade as a digestive aliment. Many women are diagnosed in a late stage and their chances of survival are lessened.
Jamie is a playwright and shared her story to raise awareness about this deadly illness, in the way she knows best, by writing a play, “Female, Ashkenazi with a Sewing Machine.” It was staged by Inferno Theatre (infernotheatre.org) in Berkeley, California, April 21 – May 7, 2017. In this play, the diagnosis of ovarian cancer sets a woman on a journey, with her sewing machine, to find her deepest roots, artistic, cultural, even cellular. It was directed and designed by Giulio Cesare Perrone and performed by Inferno’s physical ensemble members, Benoît Monin, Melissa Clason and Crystal Brown with live original violin music by Carol Braves.
An advance article appeared in the J., the weekly newspaper for the Jewish community of Northern California. Read HERE.
The play was reviewed in the San Jose Mercury News by theater reviewer Sam Hurwitt. Read HERE.
This is Jamie’s Playwright’s Note from the show’s program:
Some journeys are thrust upon us. We wake up to a world that is suddenly foreign and cruel, and have no choice but to embark on a journey. Cancer patients embark on these journeys when they are unbelievably vulnerable, while balancing on a razor-thin edge between life and death.
A cancer journey is deeply personal – there is no road map to consult. We only know our desired destination. I started to write this play when I was most vulnerable, stripped of hair, many organs, and white blood cells. This play has unfolded as my life post-diagnosis has unfolded.
My cancer diagnosis has changed my life forever. Not just in ways you would expect, like increased gratitude for my family and friends and increased intolerance of the petty. Because my cancer, ovarian, is so tied into my heritage as an Ashkenazi Jew, my tribal identity has been heightened. At the same time, I now strongly identify with all cancer patients. This sorority/fraternity contains some of the most courageous and beautiful individuals on earth.
This play is dedicated to those who must embark on perilous journeys.
L’Chaim! To Life!