Erica’s Cancer Journey: “Dancing in the rain”

Monica Bill Barnes & Co.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…
It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
– Vivian Greene

Q: Why does Snoop Dogg need an umbrella? 

A: Fo’ Drizzle.

I’m at Jacob’s Pillow smiling at Monica Bill Barnes & Co. skip across the floor during Happy Hour. I laugh at the tension created by their silent, piercing stares at audience members. I cringe from back pain exacerbated by the Shawangunk-to-Berkshire drive over. I am lifted by the dancers’ antics, amused by the karaoke sequence and in tears when the show ends. I don’t want the performance to be over. And I want to connect with Monica and Anna to share how much I enjoyed the evening they presented. I cry again when I’m told they won’t be coming out to chat.

“One of the wonderful things about dance is its mysterious power;
a gesture or a dance step may spark an unexpected response,
and often it’s hard to grasp why that has occurred.”
– Andrew Boynton


I wonder, “Is cancer a dancer?”

I feel refreshed during a Monica Bill Barnes dance performance with its dynamic combinations alternating slow and speedy pacing; creative details like 1980s pop music; the two partners riffing off each other as one pulls the other offstage; unexpected eyerolls or mouthed “I love yous” across the room.

Cancer has its own rhythms, too. In my body, malignancy moves quickly, while I waste hours in interminable-waiting rooms. My visualizations and meditations yield powerful stories about my interior landscape, like the surgery suite sprouting grasses or the Roman bathhouse. I riff with medical staff and with Mike during appointments. I am surprised by periodic health crises that seem to crop up out of nowhere. I am so excited that Monica and Anna came outside after all, and I could tell them everything I loved in their piece.

“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.”
– My Fair Lady

At what cost for a dancer to perform? Is the knee strain worth it? 

At what cost for me to see this MBB performance? Is the back pain worth it? 

At what cost this dose of chemotherapy? Are the fatigue and weakness worth it? 

At what cost life? So much Yes.

Monica and Anna are part of my inspiration not just to be alive, but to act like it. Witnessing their choreography unfold is as unpredictable as my MRI results. I lean hard on self-trust during my own health uncertainties, deepened with every decision about whether or not a given choice enriches or depletes my being. Is this dancing in the rain? Is cancer my proverbial storm?

“Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”
– Ludwig Jacobowski

(Still wondering if I like or loathe this phrase…) 

I wonder where dance finds you in your life?

Learn more about Monica Bill Barnes & Co. here: and Jacob’s Pillow here:

Head On and Heart Strong!

Love, Erica

Kids’ Almanac columnist Erica Chase-Salerno was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the Summer of 2015. To read more about her experience, visit