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Robin Duke just has to laugh. Even in the face of cancer

The Algoma Fall Festival presents 'Robin Duke: I've Been Hacked', a one-woman show about surviving breast cancer, to Sault Ste. Marie this weekend
Robin Duke
Robin Duke

When comedian Robin Duke was diagnosed with breast cancer just under a decade ago, naturally she didn’t find it very funny. But throughout her lengthy treatment process, she kept a journal. And from that journal, she wrote a one-woman show that she hopes will help others find light in times of darkness. This Saturday, Robin Duke will bring that show, I’ve Been Hacked, to Sault Ste. Marie as part of the annual Algoma Fall Festival.

“It wasn’t easy and I really hesitated about doing it for a long time,” she told SooToday, adding that she resisted going public with the material out of fear of being accused of exploiting cancer as a means to advance her career.

Through the encouragement of friends and colleagues, one of whom helped her sort and write the material for the show, she began to understand the importance of what she was doing – that this was something that could really help people and was worth putting in front of an audience.

“At the end of rehearsals, I was really exhausted. It takes a lot out of me,” Duke said. “It’s also a time in my life that I want to get beyond – I want to say this is just a chapter. It’s hard to relive it, but I think of it as a performance.”

“There’s a lot of joy in it, there’s a lot of release in it through the laughter,” she explained. “I guess that’s the point – I have to laugh. I have to look at it and find what’s funny in it, find what’s light out of all the darkness. And I can do that where other people might not be able to sit in the darkness and the fear. I hope this will take some of that away.”

In some ways, the show is a bit cathartic for her, she said. But in others, it’s extremely difficult because she has to go back and relive the experience. It can be tiring and painful, but ultimately she said it’s worth it.

“I hope I can relieve some of the fear around (cancer),” Duke said of the show. “I hope I can shed some light on what it actually is the minutia of it, the detail, what it is like from moment to moment. I think when you bring it down to that, you can remove some of the fear around it.”

“It’s a heavy subject, but I think we can find humour in it, we can find the light in it.”

The Algoma Fall Festival will present Robin Duke: I’ve Been Hacked this Saturday at the Water Tower Inn Pavilion. Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $39 each and may be purchased at the Sault Community Theatre Centre Box Office in the Station Mall or online.

Additional Algoma Fall Festival performances include Jonathan Roy on Oct. 12, a Soulpepper presentation of Riverboat Coffee House: The Yorkville Scene on Oct. 21, and Colin Grant and Scott Macmillan on Oct. 27. For more information about this year’s Algoma Fall Festival, please click here.