NEWBURYPORT — Breast cancer is no laughing matter but playwright Lisa Rafferty knows from experience that laughter can have some pretty serious healing powers.
Rafferty, who is well-known from her motherhood-related "The MOMologues" comedy series, shared these healing powers with a group of breast cancer survivors and supporters at Nicholson Hall on Thursday during the Celebrating Survival luncheon and silent auction.
The event was sponsored by Anna Jaques Hospital and Institution for Savings in conjunction with the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Rafferty and her guests, 92.5 The River radio host Dana Marshall and Magic 106.7 radio host Sue Tabb — both of whom are also breast cancer survivors — shared witty takes on their experiences with the disease and performed select scenes from Rafferty's play, "The MOMologues: Pink Ribbon Overdose," which she wrote with a group of friends after her diagnosis 10 years ago.
With their stories, the trio took a humorous perspective on many of the challenges dealt with during and after breast cancer treatment, including the discomfort of wearing hospital johnnies and adjusting to hair loss and other complications of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. And then there's the adjustment to the new reality of post-cancer life.
"If you're fortunate, your treatment ends and you go back to your life," Rafferty said. "Your wounds heal, your hair grows back and your scars fade — at least the visible ones. ... And yet, you've survived ... we put one foot in front of the other and we move on."
Mary Anne Clancy, vice president of communications at Institution for Savings, said the event was created to raise money for Anna Jaques Hospital’s Gerrish Breast Care Center while also raising awareness of the disease.
"It's a great event. We wanted to celebrate people that have gone through it and come out on the other end," Clancy said. "We have thousands of dollars worth of items from local businesses (for a silent auction), and the bottom line is that we want to raise money for the local treatment center, that's our goal."
Throughout the event, the speakers sought to inspire breast cancer survivors and others in attendance with a message of strength and community through laughter.
As the event came to a close, Rafferty stressed the importance of the cause and expressed her gratitude to participants of the event.
"All of us are living proof that we can get through this," Rafferty said. "The incredible work that's being done here is stunning and important, and I'm so grateful to know that and to be a part of it."
Jack Shea can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.