Festival show to put cancer care centre stage

Janet Ruiz will be part of a post-show panel discussing the issues raised. Picture: Jon Savage
Janet Ruiz will be part of a post-show panel discussing the issues raised. Picture: Jon Savage
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A CANCER sufferer hopes to challenge the illusions on living with a terminal illness as part of a poignant Fringe show.

Janet Ruiz, who lives in Bonnyrigg, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 and given the all-clear after a gruelling treatment regime. But while on holiday with a friend in 2013, Janet noticed an ache in her upper back. Doctors confirmed cancer had returned and was affecting her vertebrae.

Janet, 60, has refused to let the grim news stop her from living her life and she hopes to share her experiences with the audiences of the play Tissue, which will be staged next month as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The show focuses on lead character Sally and her family after she is diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1970s – a time when only 40 per cent of patients survived the disease, against 80 per cent now.

Janet, who was 47 when she was first diagnosed, said: “It was shocking because it was so unexpected. The only symptom I had was that I was a bit tired but other than that I felt fine.

“I remember that the doctor was very reassuring, telling me that breast cancer was very treatable. The only time I cried was when I thought about how I would tell my children.”

After her treatment ended, Janet celebrated by marrying her partner Mike and hosting a huge party, where she raised money for Cancer Research.

She continued her efforts following her second diagnosis, and the charity was so impressed that they invited Janet to tour the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre and asked her to take part in a panel discussion after each performance of Tissue.

She will join playwright Louise Page, researchers from Edinburgh and Dundee and doctors to explore the issues raised in the play.

The mother-of-two said: “I hope it will be useful for audience members who might be worried about a loved one to hear that you can live with cancer and it might not be as awful as people perceive it to be.

“I think a cancer diagnosis is often worse for relatives and friends as they are left in a position where they are so worried about you, but they don’t know how to react.”

Tissue is a collaboration between the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre and theatre group Cancer Out Loud.

Rebecca Scott, research engagement manager at the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre said: “The show also really highlights how far cancer treatments and the patient experience have come since the 1970s.”

Performances will take place at theSpace, Niddry Street between August 25 and 29.