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Happy Cancer Chick [video]

Photo: Eileen Rivera

I have never met anyone whose life has not been impacted by cancer in one way or another. So, the question posed is, can cancer be funny? In the right hands, the answer is a resounding yes.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the premiere of a new web series. Happy Cancer Chick comes from the minds and talents of Linda Nieves-Powell  and Jenny Saldaña. With both women writing, Nieves-Powell directing, and Saldaña starring, they were able to bring together a multi-cultural cast that gels very well onscreen.

Saldaña is a breast cancer survivor with a marvelous sense of humor. Throughout her treatment and recovery, she became an advocate for younger women, who were not encouraged to have regular mammograms. She has helped countless women by teaching them how to navigate the swirling waters of health insurance and resistant doctors.

Nieves-Powell has been writing great material for women in general, and Latinas specifically. She holds the pen responsible for “Yo Soy Latina”, “Jose Can Speak”, and many others, as well as a book, “Freestyle”, that she hopes to turn into a stage production. She’s been able to offer roles to many struggling Latina actresses looking for acting credits.

“Cancer does not equal funny” is the first episode of the web series and introduces: Lola Manola (Saldaña) the Pink Ladies, her cancer support group, Xavier, her yogi, Tristan, her agent, and Cecilia also known as the Big C. As the central characters in the web series, the relationships are established in this episode and there are quite a few laughs to be had. The Pink Ladies are trying to kick Lola out of their group for her use of humor. The yogi is trying to get Lola to focus through meditation, while the agent keeps trying to get her a job. And always lurking in Lola’s mind is Cecilia, the personification of cancer, the thing that changes and destroys lives.

Cancer is definitely not funny, but in the words of Lola Manola, “Isn’t it better to outsmart cancer with a laugh?”




About Eileen Rivera

Eileen was born in The Bronx, to Puerto Rican parents. She grew up thinking the whole world was Latino. Moving to Rockland County in upstate New York taught her it wasn’t. One more move in 1976, brought her to Hudson County, New Jersey where she currently resides. She attended Rutgers-Newark where she majored in Social Work with a minor in Puerto Rican studies. Eileen credits her history professor, Dr. Olga Wagenheim, for the spark and impetus to search out her roots in a pre-computer era. The daughter of a minister, she credits her father for the activism, volunteerism and search for justice that have characterized her adult years.

The mother of two adult daughters, Eileen has worked in the Juvenile Justice system for twenty-eight years. She acts as a liaison between the Juvenile Detention Center and the Juvenile Court.

Writing was something she shared with family. Stories and songs for her children and Christmas tales for the extended family. She now shares her writing with a larger family, the Being Latino family.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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