Wanda Sykes Funny and Human – Strand-Capital Oct. 16

Talks to Central Voice about Her Breast Cancer

By Frank Pizzoli

“My appearance at Strand-Capital isn’t going to be my ‘cancer show’”, comedian Wanda Sykes told Central Voice today. Sykes appears Oct. 16 at Strand-Capital Theatre, York.

Emmy-winning Sykes, 47, queen of wisecracks and one-liners, earlier this month told viewers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show about her run in with breast cancer. She’s the mother of 2 ½-year-old twins, Olivia and Lucas, and lives with wife Alex.

Even in the face of breast cancer, Sykes’ humor never left her.

A few days after the Ellen Show, Sykes told the New York Daily News, “I had real big boobs, and I just got tired of knocking over stuff.” She said, “Every time I eat … Oh, lord. I’d carry a Tide stick everywhere I go. My back was sore, so it was time to have a reduction.”

Sykes explained that while pursuing breast reduction last February until after the reduction lab work showed she had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in her left breast.
“I was very, very lucky because DCIS is basically stage-zero cancer,” Sykes explained.

With Sykes cancer in its earliest stage, she could choose between having a mammogram and MRI every three months to keep track of its progress or taking immediate action. Her mother’s side of the family had experienced a lot of breast cancer, Sykes said, so she opted for a bilateral mastectomy. “I had both breasts removed… Now I have zero chance of having breast cancer.”

Within every front stage persona lives a backstage individual.

Sykes shared with Central Voice why, as outspoken as she is in the public arena, why she wasn’t talking about her cancer sooner. “I needed to be there for myself, to use my own healing energy,” she said. As word leaked and Twitter alerted others to her challenge, well wishers sent messages. And then in a voice as genuine as warm apple pie Sykes said, “People like me. That’s sweet.”

And then right back to her signature humor.

“How many things could I have? I’m black, then lesbian. I can’t be a poster child for everything!” she joked. “At least with the LGBT issues we get a parade, we get a float, it’s a party.” Sykes’ breast cancer was anything but a party but her humorous soul has shone through the hardship.

FACT: National Cancer Institute estimates for 2011 new cases and deaths from breast cancer in the US – New cases: 230,480 (female); 2,140 (male); Deaths: 39,520 (female); 450 (male)

RESOURCE: What You Need to Know about Breast Cancer, online booklet


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