The old showbiz adage is that the show must go on, and Rebekah Robeson isn’t letting a breast cancer diagnosis stop her from doing what she loves – perform.
The 27-year-old spent three weeks in September in the role of Belle in the Aiken Community Playhouse production of Beauty and the Beast.
“I’ve tried to keep my life as normal as possible. I’ve wanted life to go on,” said Robeson, who was diagnosed in January. She finished chemotherapy in May and has drug infusions every three weeks. She’s looking at a possible mastectomy in December.
Robeson still works her job as a clerk at Edgefield General Store in Edgefield, S.C., and she pursues her passion for the stage.
A graduate of Augusta University with a theater degree, Robeson has been on stage numerous times. She has performed with The Augusta Players in A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Peter Pan and Into The Woods, and she’s done a lot with Edgefield Theatre Company.
She’s the assistant director of Edgefield’s current production Always Patsy Cline, which completes its run this weekend with shows on Oct. 14 and 15. And she’s planning to be part of a Christmas Cabaret fundraiser in Edgefield in December. She’s also keeping her eye on Aiken’s spring shows and preparing for those auditions.
Not only is she passionate about the stage, but she’s also becoming an advocate of early detection. The American Cancer Society says that mammograms are recommended for women beginning at age 40.
For Robeson, it wasn’t a mammogram that revealed her cancer; it was a monthly breast exam.
“It was a big shock,” she said. “I did a self-exam and found something abnormal. I scheduled an appointment with my ob/gyn, and it was abnormal. I’ve tried to encourage a lot of my friends. You know yourself best.”
She also tells people to resist the urge to do an Internet search on any symptoms or diagnosis.
“It’s probably the worst thing you can do when you receive a diagnosis. Every patient is different and will have a different story. Instead of bogging yourself down in statistics and probabilities, focus on staying positive and healing. Your story is yours alone,” she said.
A cancer diagnosis brings fear in many people, but through her diagnosis, Robeson has realized a lot about herself, and it has given her a new outlook on life.
“I lived much of my life in fear – fear of change, fear of taking chances, fear of the unknown. This experience has made me realize that I cannot control one single thing in my life, and that is OK. A life without taking chances is not a life well lived. I believe that God placed this experience in my life to glorify Him, and I intend to use it for that purpose.”