Ash and Feather: A Bird/Girl and Her Father's Cancer
By Written by Sharon Frances. Directed by Daphnie Sicre. Enacted by LMU Students
For more: wellbeings.studio/ashandfeather/
The podcast was supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Arts and Disability Center at the University of California Los Angeles. Any findings, opinions, or conclusions contained herein are not necessarily those of the funders.
Ash and Feather: A Bird/Girl and Her Father's CancerAug 08, 2020
Bonus Episode: Emotional Well-being during Cancer and COVID, Black and LGBTQ Family Lives Matter
The Ash and Feather project explores how cancer affects everyone, the one who is sick and their family and friends.… The Ash and Feather story centers the black family, and allows space for that family to be comprised of gay males raising a daughter. It is incredibly affirming to a population that so often has to trumpet for equity and inclusion. In the panel, we examine the intersection of social justice, emotional well-being and mental health. The panel centers Blackness and the strength of Black leaders who advocate for families in medical and community spaces. We discuss coping strategies and wellness tips: whether that be music, spoken word, folklore, creative writing, art – here in all of us, to explore and share as we navigate the beauty and messes of life.
Episode 6: "Rising from the Ashes"
When you look up at the sky, what do you see? What do you think about? As day turns to night, the trees become silhouettes and the stars start to twinkle. What is possible in the blue purple of dusk? When old and new meet? When laughter echoes down the bumpy street? We find sunsets, soulmates, and sometimes, roller-skates. It is time for Phoenix to rise from the ashes.
Episode 5: "A New Normal"
You know how things change? When something really big happens in your life, like moving to a new state or losing a loved one? There is a time right after the change that feels awkward or scary. Lonely or different. Sometimes people call that transitioning into a new normal. We want to find rainbows in the midst of gray. Let’s look together as Phoenix transitions with her dads into their new normal, post-cancer treatment.
Episode 4: Post Surgery Treatment, “The Headdress”
Touch your head, what do you feel? Long hair, short hair, baldness? Feel under your hair. Find the shape of your skull, its waves. Feel its hardness. Your skull protects you. Our bird-girl Phoenix learns about a device that will help with her dad Eagle's cancer. He wears it on his head. Phoenix helps him feel strong.… like a bird, like a plane. Like super dad!
Episode 3: Surgery, “Waiting”
Hospitals are places with new smells, mysterious rooms, and equipment that can make us shiver. Hospitals remind us of the beginnings and ends of life. This episode explores surgery, the next step in Eagle’s treatment. Get ready for big feelings, shoulder rubs, rock painting, and warbler nests.
Episode 2: Chemotherapy, "Dressed in Black"
Have you ever wanted to escape when things are hard? Grow wings and fly high in the sky? Jump in the water and swim away? In this episode, the news of Eagle’s cancer settles in, and Phoenix searches for ways to make the hurt feel better.
Episode 1: Diagnosis, "When Living Was Easy"
Bake a cake, wear your hoodie, greet the sun and clouds. These are things you can control. And then there are things you can’t. Life’s messes. COVID is raging, cancer has been raging, and racism and injustice have always been raging, so it matters that we explore real lives and the magic that helps them through.
In Ash and Feather, We will imagine a family with a Duck, an Eagle and a daughter who is a Phoenix! At first it sounds strange, not possible, until you look in your family and realize there are people who look very different from you, think differently, and learn differently. And somehow, you make it work, or you come to a crossroads of choices to make... Everyday in our world, ducks and eagles get together in spite of what society says and they struggle, but they also love, and they have little phoenixes who also struggle, but laugh, and rise in spite of everything.
In this episode, Phoenix and her two dads, Eagle and Duck, navigate learning that Eagle has brain cancer.
Preview of Ash and Feather: Bird/Girl and Her Father's Cancer
Ash and Feather: a Black family with teen and two dads, one of whom has brain cancer, addresses minority mental health, medical trauma, anti-racism, and queer family life. It is written by Sharon Frances, director of Well Beings Studio, a non-profit that supports the emotional well-being of families impacted by cancer through the arts.
About Ash and Feather, Frances says, "I wrote this podcast, as a person with cancer and a lifetime child of a parent with cancer. I wanted to explore my relationship with my daughter, as she watched me fight for my life, and to imagine a better relationship with my father who had lost his life to cancer. I wanted to represent a family struggling with something quite hidden: the pain of going through cancer and emotional turmoil and grief.
Personally, I have always succeeded in hiding my disabilities because they were internal: cancer, pain, fatigue, sadness, panic. Often people don’t know when I am struggling with one of these invisible conditions. I wanted Ash and Feather to celebrate the joys and struggles of a family experiencing a range of emotions and going through often invisible medical struggles.