March 25, 2014 | 02:47 PMWeapons in the war against cancer include chemicals, surgery and pain killers.
Jacey Powers already had courage and humor in her arsenal when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in October.
And those were the first two weapons she aimed at that rude intruder into her life, with the creation of a blog and video blog (or vlog) called “That Time I Had Cancer.”
So far, the fight has been a hard one.
In a recent telephone interview, Jacey said she’s just finished her fifth round of chemotherapy and faces possible surgery.
However, she said her doctors have also told her that her cancer is a type that’s treatable, and because she started treatment early, her chances of remission are good.
Jacey is a Lake Geneva native and a 2004 graduate of Badger High School.
Talent runs in the family. Her father is the late John Powers, author and motivational speaker; her mother is JaNelle Powers, actor and writer.
What also runs in the family, at least on her mother’s side, is cancer, Jacey said. Her maternal grandmother died from the disease.
Her mother has had three bouts with the disease, with the most recent diagnosis in August.
Her mother is a valuable resource in her own fight against the disease, Jacey said.
Jacey is an actor, writer and teacher. She’s been living in New York City since she was 18 and is a graduate of New York University. In a recent telephone interview, Jacey said she got the diagnosis in October. But just getting the diagnosis was something of a journey.
Acting is not the most stable way to make a living, and Jacey said she was between health insurance policies when she noticed an unusual mass in her breast.
She set out to find a clinic where she could get a free mammogram, only to discover that free mammograms aren’t readily available for women younger than 40.
Breast cancer is not considered a young woman’s disease, she said.
Frustrated by the bureaucratic barriers, Jacey decided to vent her anger at having cancer and her frustration with the seemingly arbitrary rules of our medical insurance industry by filming short videos between three and nine minutes long of her trip through cancer land.
Jacey said she developed a good network of friends, actors and theater professionals, while performing in the off-Broadway presentation of “Our Town.”
About a dozen of those friends are helping her with the videos.
“You say ‘I have cancer,’ and some people want to help,” Jacey said.
Jacey said she writes the scripts. She and her friends then schedule the times and places necessary to film the episodes. Four of those episodes are online now. Seven have been completed, and an eighth episode is in the works.
Jacey said she wants her vlog to chronicle the whole process she goes through in her fight against the disease. She said she anticipates doing about 40 episodes.
The first three vlogs were shot in her apartment. The fourth one was in an office at a hospital.
Episodes 5, 6 and 7 are shot in a clinic examination room.
Jacey said she’s planning to release the videos about one every two weeks. Episode four was posted online March 13.
The videos, though funny, are pretty adult.
Her opening video is about her inability to accept sympathy, especially during her father’s funeral. It’s both funny and touching, with at least one jaw-dropping revelation to be seen, but not related here.
The videos include some nice touches, including a personalization of what Jacey says was her closest companion early in her search for a diagnosis of a strange mass in her breast, Mr. Google.
Jay Russell, an experienced Broadway actor, looks Googley enough. He’s also a cancer survivor, Jacey said.
About 95 percent of what she writes for her vlog episodes is true, Jacey said, with one stipulation. “Anything that sounds completely ridiculous is 100 percent true,” she said. “I can’t make that stuff up.”
The videos are punchy, talky and have a light tone. Everyone in the videos are actors, Jacey said.
For example, she has a boyfriend. It’s not the guy in the video. Meanwhile, when not taking chemotherapy or doing videos about her cancer fight, Jacey is doing what other working actors do, she’s auditioning and doing some standup comedy at local clubs.
“I do a lot of things about funerals and losing my dad a year ago,” Jacey said of her standup routine.
And now, she includes material about cancer.
“Where ever there’s sadness, anger and pain, there’s humor,” she said. “Someone once said that comedy is tragedy plus timing.
She said the kinds of drugs she’s been doing have not led to fatigue or hair loss. In part, it’s also because she is receiving cryo treatment, in which a small, super cold lozenge is inserted into the tumor to help kill it.
“It hurts like hell,” Jacey said. But, on the other hand, it means that the chemicals used in the chemotherapy doesn’t have to be in doses that cause fatigue or hairloss.
“I have not missed a day of work because of chemotherapy,” Jacey said.
Meanwhile, between auditions and the occasional standup gigs, Jacey has also been taking side jobs, “because I have to support having cancer.”
For years she bragged she never had to work in restaurants, like other aspiring actors. That recently changed.
Regina Meyers, the woman who edits Jacey’s vlogs, also owns three New York City restaurants.
“I thought I’d help her out,” Jacey joked about her first foray into waiting tables.
And unless anyone thinks Jacey takes cancer too lightly, she said she has no illusions about the disease or its possible consequences.
“Cancer is not a vacation. It is not something I would recommend to a friend,” she said.
She may yet have to have a mastectomy. That is not a happy thought. “But it is something you can get beyond.”