By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Spoken opera focuses on female cancer survivors
Performances raise awareness, funds for local public health
Jennifer Provitera portrays Theresa in “The Way Home” on Tuesday night in the Walters Auditorium at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. The spoken opera emphasized the importance of breast cancer prevention, early detection and improving access to health care.

Baldness, back aches and peeling hands all are side effects anyone who has undergone chemotherapy may have suffered.

These common effects were among the many debilitating issues local cancer survivors shared Tuesday in a performance of "The Way Home," a spoken opera about the plight and camaraderie of female cancer patients. The opera was performed twice at Northeast Georgia Medical Center to raise cancer awareness and funds for District 2 Public Health’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program.

Storie Allison, coordinator of the District 2 program, said although the program receives state and federal funds, more funds are needed to support the program that’s seeing more women and men come through its doors.

"We need to see a lot more women than we did last year because so many women are out of work so, of course, they’ve lost their health insurance," she said. "... Our program is important because the earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chances are (for survival)."

Lagging revenue sources conflict sharply with the increased need for free mammograms, Pap smears and pelvic exams the program offers to low-income women without health insurance. The program also pays for biopsies if test results indicate cancer is present, Allison said.

Gladys Green is a four-year breast cancer survivor. She works in the Gainesville school system’s central office and has participated in the fundraiser program for the past three years.

"It’s our story," she said of the opera. "So many parts of it touch my life, especially the part about the chemo and losing my hair. I went through all of that."

Green said life has a whole new, wonderful meaning since she survived cancer, and she’s glad to be able to encourage women to have a mammogram to detect lumps early. Women 40 and older should get a mammogram every one to two years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"So many women have told me that they haven’t had one because they can’t afford it," Green said. "More programs now are offering free mammograms and that’s a blessing. That’s what this program is trying to do."