One-woman show about young adults with cancer takes stage

Dec 27, 2013

A new play in Syracuse deals with one young adult's experience living with cancer with the goal of raising money for charity and bringing awareness to young adults who have the disease.

Jesse Pardee, 22, received her first dose of chemotherapy five years ago on Christmas Eve after being diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a cancer of the pelvis.

"My family's memories are probably worse than mine of that first weekend because I was drugged up," she recalled. "It was all a blur for me."

Her last treatment was in 2009. She still has a partial tumor on her hip, but the cancer cells are dead.

Pardee just graduated from Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts in Pittsburgh and is planning a move to New York City. Before she does, she will perform her one-woman show called "Once Upon A Cancer."

The idea for the play started in college with a blog she wrote out of frustration with how people treated her as a young adult with cancer.

"Your friends don't know how to treat you, it's easier for them to keep their distance because they don't want to say something, they don't want to offend you," she said. "The blog was like, 'here, I'm going to tell you all what you need to do to talk to sick people.' It was almost like a journal for me."

Audiences should come with an open mind, she says.

"I'm not holding anything back. This might make you uncomfortable, but I'm going to say it anyway. I make a lot of jokes about cancer. It's ok to laugh. A lot of times cancer patients do try to make light of the situation," Pardee said.

All the proceeds from Pardee's play will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which gave Pardee a wish of her own. She got to audition for the Broadway musical "Spring Awakening" in New York City in 2010.

Pardee's play runs Friday and Saturday night at the Central New York Playhouse.