Stav Meishar, 28 years old, was born and raised in Israel. She is based in New York City where she founded the award-winning organization for creative Jewish education, Dreamcoat Experience. When she’s not shaping the futures of young Jewish minds, she is a stage artist specializing in Circus Arts.
Stav’s biggest project at the moment is a solo performance based on the true story of a Jewish acrobat who survived WWII by hiding and working at a German circus. She was due to spend a year in Australia developing her circus skills and bringing this project to fruition. Four days before her flight, Stav got diagnosed with colon cancer and was forced to stay in NYC and focus on her health. She has decided to chronicle her battle with cancer, one day at a time. This series of articles is a sampling of her cancer journal.
To support Stav’s art, check out her kickstarter.
If you’re just joining us, you can read the first four installments of this series here:
Chronicles of #TheGirlWithTheCancer:
Today was my happiest day (yet!) since diagnosis. It was so disgustingly good I wanna hug everyone around me. … It started early in the morning at City Hall, at the wedding of two very dear friends. Then we all went for pizza and Cheese Guy joined us, and soon we said our goodbyes and he came over to my place.
We spent the fan entire afternoon and evening in bed, and there was nowhere else I’d have rather been. It was both tender and demanding, a really good mix of incredible closeness and hot and sweaty delight. His skin against mine made my whole self surrender. It was so easy to ease into him — the conversation was so effortless, the humor so similar. We’re both such giant dorks it’s unreal. I wished I had a million hands I could run all over him.
At some point I asked a personal question and he hesitated.
“If I reply, I’ll be giving you my deepest, darkest secret.”
Before I could even think about it, my mouth fired back —
“I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”
And so he did. He told me, and it was an intimate and scary thing to share, and I appreciated his honesty, his courage and his vulnerability. So it became my turn to share. And I was terrified.
“You wanna see me again, right?”
“What I’m about to tell you might change that. And I won’t judge you if it will.”
He looked puzzled. I took a deep, trembling breath.
“I have cancer.”
His arms immediately tightened around me. And he asked a few questions. And I gave him the summary of the medical stuff. And he said he’s sorry that this is what I’m coping with right now.
“But why would I not wanna keep dating you?” He sounded genuinely perplexed.
“I’ve been having so many of these conversations lately that I’ve learned I can’t predict how anyone might respond… That C word is a lot for most people to handle.”
“If I were to stop dating you it would be because I discovered something that makes us incompatible. Not because of cancer.”
And that was it. It was a short, almost casual conversation. Here’s my wart, oh OK, interesting, cool, let’s move on then. It got filed away almost instantly, and we continued as we were.
And, just like on our previous dates, I completely forgot I had cancer. For one long, blissful afternoon.
I’ve no idea if this guy came into my life to become that love that I had given up on finding in this cynical city, and that became a major reason in my decision to leave.
And honestly? It doesn’t matter.
He’s good for me, right here, right now. He’s giving me joy at a time very few things do. Our connection is real and beautiful.
Today was really good. One for the books.
That’s really all I can ask for.
I met up with a friend / colleague today who runs an artist incubator at a Jewish venue in town. She learned about my cancer and we were meeting to talk options for my circus/holocaust play (the one I’m fundraising for on Kickstarter).
Funny, this word. OPTIONS.
What options does cancer give me? What options does it take away?
Cancer took away Australia and a professional opportunity I was salivating over for 3+ years. Cancer took away summer and the ocean, cancer took away seeing my beloved cousin who lives in Sydney and my excitement to date Australian hotties.
But these are all things that can be rebuilt, regained.
However, cancer is taking some things away that are slightly more serious, isn’t it? Cancer will be taking away a piece of my body. It has already taken away a piece of my joy and my peace of mind. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully quantify the scope of what cancer has taken away, as I assume the toll will keep rising.
… Now, as I’m talking to this woman, I’m realizing that this word I’ve been fearing - PITY - might be working in my favor.
Cancer have given me pity. And pity gives me options.
Pity, most of the time, is a horrible thing that I hate. I hate seeing it in the eyes of some people who talk to me about my cancer, hate hearing it in their voices. Yet pity gave me a free ride with a great surgeon who doesn’t even work with my insurance. That’s a blessing, right?
Now, pity might be giving my most treasured project its first exposure.
I wish I could tell you that I can just MAKE ART and not care whether I received the opportunity because my work is appreciated or because someone took pity on me.
I really, really wish I could be that person.
It bothers me.
I know my project is phenomenal, and I know that I am a hardworking, creative person who will put her heart and soul into it. But I want others to know it, too.
I want to be recognized for who I am and what I have to give, not for the lovely curveball fate threw my way. I want this stage very much, I just wish it didn’t come to me because of my cancer.
The good news is that my CIRCUS/HOLOCAUST PLAY WILL HAVE A READING, and on Holocaust Memorial Day of all days which is sort of perfect.
That is, no matter the reason for my being given this opportunity, I am grabbing it with both hands.
But can someone please go into my head and turn off the little voices that tell me that without cancer-induced pity my art isn’t worth anything?
Can someone please tell the Fraud Police that I should be allowed to enjoy the options cancer is giving me since it is taking so much away?