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Cancer Survivor Christine Rathbun Presents "Reconstruction: Or How I Learned to Pay Attention"

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Christine Rathbun, a playwright and performer, presented her one-woman play, "Reconstruction: Or How I Learned to Pay Attention" on Monday, Nov. 5. 

Rathbun's play chronicles her battle with breast cancer at the age of 34. She acted out the stages of her illness, starting from the first diagnosis, through surgery and chemotherapy, until the final two stages of the healing process which included both physical and emotional healing. Using various props, as well as many on-stage interactions with her own daughter, Rathbun re-enacted the emotional highs and lows of her experience. The props often served as metaphors of her emotions. For example, she peeled an orange while she discussed the deconstruction of her body as she underwent chemotherapy and radiation. She also used a pink ribbon to demonstrate what she calls the "compassionate consumerism" of the breast cancer foundation.

In the last portion of the play, "the healing process," Rathbun reflected on what she called the "gift" of illness. She mentioned that the gift of illness was invaluable, as it taught her to appreciate her life as well her own imperfections. Essentially, the experience with cancer taught her to "pay attention" to her priorities and live life to its fullest. She also explained her decision not to receive surgical reconstruction. Instead, she said she experienced a type of emotional reconstruction that is much more valuable. 

Rathbun ended the performance with a favorite quote that has helped her and her daughter to move forward each day: "We are all spectacularly flawed." 
Her play was presented as part of the Social Justice and Diversity Project's "Health Matters" series. 

-- by Danielle Raulli '10

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