Of course, it wasn’t really called Cancer Dance Class. It was called “I Hope You’ll Dance,” and any woman who had ever had cancer was welcome to come to Emerson Hospital and join in. It wasn’t really dance either. I would call it dancelike movement to recordings. With props. Teacher Susan Osofsky-Ross was a cancer survivor herself and had a great collection of music from her many years in the dance world. Some pieces, like “You Raise Me Up,” had a spiritual vibe. But in the same session we were just as likely to perform numbers like “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” (with feather boas) or “Everything Old Is New Again” (with bowler hats). There was a lot of chat and laughter even though not all of us were in remission.
One of the women brought her mother in a wheelchair. The mother had a heart condition. She danced with her arms and often cracked us up with her quiet humor. One day we came to class and learned that she had had an attack and was now upstairs in the hospital. She was in a coma. Her daughter had been with her all night and decided to join us for class while her brother kept the vigil. At the end of the class, we asked the daughter whether she thought it would be a good idea if we took the boom box up to her mother’s room and did one of the dances for her. Bonny said, “Yes. Let’s try it.”
So up we traipsed, through the hospital corridors to the sick room, and quietly sang and “danced” one of our more uplifting numbers around the bed in the cramped room.
We still like to think Bonny’s mother heard us and was pleased.