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Research Is the Reason I’m Alive

By BCRF | February 24, 2022

How science and song helped Miriam Dance through a triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis.

Last May, theater director, teacher, and performer Miriam Dance, 36, was preparing to lead a class when she suddenly felt a painful lump in her breast. With no family history of breast cancer, Miriam didn’t expect to be diagnosed with one of the disease’s most aggressive forms: triple-negative.

“When the doctor called to tell me I had cancer, I was alone at home,” she said. “I just remember my house being super quiet. I was there by myself breaking down, and then I had to call everyone to tell them the news.”

Miriam’s cancer was growing quickly, so she had to make a lot of fast decisions and start treatment: two types of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy for the remaining two millimeters of cancer, and radiation.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miriam had to go to most of her appointments alone. Thankfully, Miriam’s mom had moved nearby and could be there for her after treatments, and her sister came to visit every other weekend.

Music also helped Miriam cope with the difficult and isolating experience of being treated for breast cancer during the pandemic. Like others might keep a journal, Miriam wrote songs about what she was going through and dedicated original pieces to others affected by breast cancer.

“I also got to know myself,” she said. “Cancer causes you to have to reach within and really figure out who you are and how you’re going to get yourself through it. But it allowed me to see who I am and how strong I am.”

Miriam, a self-described “RENT-head,” also found comfort in the Broadway musical during her treatments, and as part of BCRF’s Virtual Hot Pink Evening, she sang “One Song Glory” with members of the original cast.

“I can’t even explain how amazing that was,” she said. “I was on cloud 10, and I don’t know if I’ve come down yet.”

Today, Miriam said she feels grateful for the science and medicine that made her aggressive cancer treatable.

“Research is the reason I’m alive,” she said.

Read more stories from BCRF’s Research Is the Reason initiative here.