An interactive approach to breast cancer comes to Carl Junction, MO

An interactive approach to breast cancer comes to Carl Junction, MO
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Performers from the University of Missouri have been putting on a unique play they hope will open conversations about breast cancer treatment in rural communities.

Tonight, they performed at the Jerry B. Stark Performing Arts Center in Carl Junction, MO.

“Chemotherapy is scary until you are going through it, and you just go through it,” said Carrie Couch, Grove resident.

Couch is a breast cancer survivor.

She says her faith, and compassionate family and friends, have helped her through.

“If you don’t have that, I don’t know how people do it without faith and strong belief, and strong people and friends helping you get through that,” Couch said.

As demonstrated by actors, unfortunately, not everyone diagnosed receives that compassion.

The interactive acting troop has performed The Breast Cancer Dialogues in several communities throughout the state.

Unlike traditional theater, the performance heavily encouraged audience participation.

“The audience chooses a scene, and they get to come in and replace one of the actors to try to help the situation turn out better than it did in the scene,” said Brad Stephenson, actor.

“The research that we’ve done shows this kind of theater is very memorable,” said Suzanne Burgoyne, director.

The performers hope the dialogues will encourage any medical professionals in the audience to show more compassion and empathy towards patients.

“It’s such a difficult situation, such a complex situation,” Stephenson said. “There is no easy answer, so you try different things that work for different people.”

All of the dialogues performed are based on true experiences documented by breast cancer survivors.

Audience members say the performance highlighted many ways they wouldn’t want anyone to be treated.

“After seeing these scenarios, there is so much that we go through, that I hope nobody has to go through that,” Couch said.

The performance is used as an educational tool for first-year medical and nursing students at the University of Missouri to teach sensitivity in delivering a diagnosis and treatment plan.