Do you think cancer is funny? Lana Schwarcz does
Can you laugh about cancer? Most people couldn’t and don’t. But for Lana Schwarcz, she’s made a career out of it. Sound strange? It’s not really. Read on to learn how this comedienne discovered her #BHmoment by making cancer funny.
What do you do for a living?
“I’m a puppeteer and a stand-up comic.”
What is your #BHmoment?
“Turning a cancer diagnosis into entertainment. I say that I made Theatre Lemonade out of Lemons.
“I toured that same show, Lovely Lady Lump, around the world. Twice. It meant that I could raise awareness, but also share the cancer experience from a personal perspective, and a funny one. I have received so many personal emails from survivors and families of cancer patients thanking me for sharing the story. And if I can get every single audience member to never use the word ‘journey’ to a cancer patient again, then I have done my job.”
How did you make that happen?
“I started by writing a blog while going through treatment. Obviously as a comic it was important for me to make it as entertaining as possible. I then wrote a script, tried many of the gags out on unsuspecting comedy audiences, did some trial shows, and then bang. I suddenly had this critically acclaimed show that started winning awards around the world. It took about a year.”
What did you learn from your experience?
“That you can make anything funny. It’s made me think that perhaps I should try my hand writing a comedy about abortion.”
Would you do anything differently?
“No. Because I did it in the uniquely Lana way I do everything – underfunded and unpaid, but I have no control over that. And I love the way I push through to get things done.
“I want people to understand that laughter is the ship that keeps you afloat while you are wading through that sea of muck, cos the only alternative is to sink.”
Why is your life better now since you started touring?
“I am alive. And I know of at least three women who have contacted me after seeing the show and they were promoted to get screened – as a result their cancers were found early, and they are undergoing a relatively easy treatment.
“They say that you feel better when you give something rather than receive it. And that’s very true. When I hear of women who have been prompted to get screened early, and who ask about their own breast density – which is a higher risk factor than family history – I tear up, because I know I was a major part of that life-saving awareness.”
What is the biggest tip you tell friends?
“Laugh. And be honest. And only surround yourself with people you love and who love you. Because you don’t need the other stuff.”
Anything else you want us to know?
“Yes. There is some information about breast density I would love to share. My own breasts were extremely dense, which is a high risk factor for breast cancer, and it also effectively hides the cancers in a mammogram meaning that approximately 50 per cent of cancers in women with dense breasts get missed. Also, the show is travelling to Calgary Fringe, Edmonton Fringe, Victoria Fringe and Vancouver Fringe and we’d love to get as many women there as possible.”
To find out if Lana will be performing near you, check out the website for Lana Schwarcz: lanaschwarcz.com.