A Happy "Breast Cancer" Chick - Jenny Saldana

Uploaded by drjayharness on 23.03.2012

>>> Lisa Schneider-Cipriano: Joining me today is actress Jenny Saldana.  Jenny is a huge
advocate in the breast cancer community as well as the Latina breast cancer community
and a secret wonder woman enthusiast.  So how old are you when you were diagnosed?
Jenny Saldana:  I was 34 when I was diagnosed.  I actually started having problems when I
was 33.  It took me a whole year to get diagnosed because I did not have a family history and
I was not old enough for a mammogram.  I was dismissed quite often by different medical
professionals, so it took me a whole year to get diagnosed and I get diagnosed well
when I was 34 years old. Lisa Schneider-Cipriano:  So, tell me what
kind of support you had?  Did you get a lot of support from your doctor, your family,
your friends, the community? Jenny Saldana:  I got too much support. 
I will tell you the Latino community, we are very close people, I think Latinos are very
close, were family oriented and I had friends that came from all over to come stay with
me.  I needed 24-hour care right after my surgery because I had a trimac construction,
which was why they give you a tummy tuck, yeah score tummy tuck, but I was bedridden
for a month after that so I could not move around.  I kept joking that my friends were
micromanaging my life because my friends had note books and they had all the doctors’
numbers and they would ask questions and it was just, sometimes I just wanted to be left
alone, but I am very blessed and I am very loved and I am very happy to have had that
support because, unfortunately, I had met women who do not have that kind of support,
and that is paramount.  I mean support from your family and your loved ones is so important
because you need the extra set up hands and the extra set up eyes and the extra body and
manpower because you are weak, you are tired and your only job should be to get better
so, you should have a team to help you deal with everything else because being sick is
a job.  So you should have a team to help you deal with everything else while your job
is to just get better, so I am very blessed that I was very very well supported.
Lisa Schneider-Cipriano:  You shared with me that your diagnosed with a very aggressive
stage I cancer.  Did you went up to chemo too?
Jenny Saldana:  I went to chemo.  I only did four cycles of Taxol but then I did a
year of Herceptin which is, I call it a targeted chemo for the layman and for what I call the
cancer civilian, it is just a targeted chemo, so my hair grew back and nails grew back,
but it just targeted the specific protein that caused my cancer.
Lisa Schneider-Cipriano:  So, how did breast cancer inspire you to get back into acting?
Jenny Saldana:  In 2000 when I wrote a play.  You know I did okay but I thought I was going
to be a one hit wonder and I think I was going to ever write again.  I have a whole bunch
of half written plays and then when I got breast cancer, believe it or not cancer became
my muse and I wrote this other play about my journey, a comedic play called “PINK:
The Chronicles of BC Jenny” and I described it as a phoenix rising from the ashes because
out of all these pain came this wonderful-wonderful, if I do say so myself, play, comedic play
about a young woman’s journey with breast cancer and it is was the door, it was the
gateway to me leaving the corporate world and just focusing more on my craft and my
art.  I got another play after “PINK: The Chronicles of BC Jenny” called “Please
Hold”, which is based on my experience at Clara.  It opened so many doors.  I have
toured the country with my play, I have spoken at colleges, I drew from the ashes rose the
phoenix that I called “Pink: The Chronicles of BC Jenny”, which won third place in the
Repertorio Español National Playwriting Competition in, I think, 2008.
Lisa Schneider-Cipriano:  That is wonderful! Kudos to you.  Now are you still going on
tour with this play? Well, we hoped we ______ [3:30] with the play. 
It is based on a per need basis.  We put out to the causes.  We usually get request
about breast cancer month, so in October we get all the request.  Currently, we are not
touring but we are expecting a book some dates in October.
Lisa Schneider-Cipriano:  You are so busy and on top of everything else now you are
launching a website happycancerchick.com.  Tell us about it?
Jenny Saldana:  Yes, this is my latest project and I am so excited.  I am the happycancerchick
and it was inspired by me but it was all of Linda Nieves-Powell’s concept.  Linda Nieves-Powell
is an award-winning writer and playwright and one of my best friends and she read a
blog that I wrote complaining about me not getting a job that required a breast cancer
survivor and I said why did not I get this job.  I am the poster child for survivorship
and I really felt that I just looked too happy and too great to have gotten the job.  So
that inspired her to write a web series about life after cancer.  What it is like to be
a woman living her life after cancer because once you had cancer, I am right now, I am
what I called the best.  I am no longer a patient but I am no longer what I call a cancer
civilian.  So life after cancer is always walking that tight rope of, you know, who
am I, am I still a patient, I will never be a civilian so who am I now, who is this new
person… At happycancerchick we got together, Linda
Nieves-Powell and I, and we wrote the episodes and it is going to be a web series and we
are so excited.  We really want people to support it.  You going to laugh, you are
going to identify your, may be get mad but you are going to love it.  I think it is
a great great great project, again if I do say so myself and we were just super excited. 
We have a great cast.  It is dealing with people not women, but just people who have
had cancer, just major major tragedies in their life to deal with, things like survivor
guild or the fact that your family starts treating you differently after a certain while
or they expect you to behave like a patient, they want to treat you a certain way so we
tackle a lot of things.  We tackle sexuality and help your personal and body image and
all the things that women who have had breast cancer deal with and we unpins the needles
about it. Lisa Schneider-Cipriano: In addition to the
website, you have this youtube video, which is a kick.
Jenny Saldana: Yes, we have a video.  We had to jump on the, girl say, craze and we
did a video called girls say to girls with breast cancer and it is basically, I do not
think I have heard.  I am sure Lisa you have heard a lot of these things.  It is the kind
of things that they come from a good place but they are really ignorance, some of them
really insensitive, but I know they come from a good place from to cancer civilian good
heart, as I like to say it.  It is all the funny things we heard about like how they
crack their head to one side when they talk to you and, you know, they split their eyes
like, yes I am with you, like I understand and you know they do not understand anything
you are saying to them.  So we make fun of them and we are doing really great and it
is actually launch for happycancerchick.  Again Linda Nieves-Powell and I co-created
this video.  We wrote it, we shot it in a day and the response has been overwhelming. 
Linda and I could not be happier with the response that we are getting.  We have not
gotten one negative response, not one thumps down on YouTube, so we are tickled pink. 
Oh, I just got that punk. Lisa Schneider-Cipriano:  But wait, Jenny
there is more, because we know that you are starring in a major motion picture with Sacha
Baron Cohen called “The dictator” due out in May 2012.  What is that all about?
Jenny Saldana:  I am about to an agreement here but I can tell you it is about a dictator. 
It is based on the Saddam Hussein novel, and it is about a dictator who comes to America
and just creates havoc over here.  It was an honor to work with Sacha Baron Cohen.
Lisa Schneider-Cipriano:  That is Jenny Saldana.  You can find her at happycancerchick.com or
in the movie “The Dictator” due out in May 2012.