New Play Explores How Families Communicate During Cancer; Free Performances Nov. 19-20 at Scripps Mercy Hospital

San Diego – A new play that explores the dynamics of how patients, families and doctors communicate about cancer – from diagnosis through death – will be offered free to the public Friday, Nov. 19 and Saturday, Nov. 20 at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest.

The play, “Conversations About Cancer: A Theatrical Production,” is written by San Diego State University professor Wayne Beach, a national authority on communication in oncology. The production is based on Beach’s book, “A Natural History of Family Cancer: Interactional Resources for Managing Illness,” which examines 61 actual phone conversations of one family’s journey through the serious cancer of family member.

Using theater is a unique approach to teaching patients and families what works well – and what doesn’t – in communicating with each other and with doctors during a major illness. The play is directed by freelance director and actor Maggie Carney, and produced by Randy Reinholz, director of the school of theatre, television and film at SDSU. The cast comprises actors from several leading local theater companies. Production of the new play is funded by the National Cancer Institute.

“Through the prism of one family’s 13-month experience, this play sheds light on the fundamental importance of communication during cancer,” said Beach, whose book recently won two prestigious awards from the National Communication Association. “We hope audience members leave with a better understanding of human interactions and a deeper appreciation for managing the trials, tribulations, hopes and even triumphs involved in a journey through cancer.”

Hosted by Scripps Cancer Center, the Nov. 19 and 20 performances for the general public will both begin at 7:30 p.m. in the West Auditorium of Scripps Mercy Hospital, located at 4077 Fifth Ave., San Diego 92103. Seating will be limited, and reservations can be made by calling 858-401-0381.

“We believe this play will be a powerful community resource that can help people improve communication during a medical crisis,” said Dr. William Stanton, medical director of Scripps Cancer Center at Scripps Mercy Hospital. “Family members rely heavily on each other when navigating through the complex social, emotional and technical aspects of cancer and every interaction – from the extraordinary to the mundane – profoundly shapes the experience.”

Scripps and SDSU are also collaborating on a federal grant proposal in the area of improving communication between cancer patients and their physicians.

With more than 300 affiliated physicians, Scripps Cancer Center is a nationally recognized leader in cancer care, providing comprehensive care at its four hospitals and various outpatient locations. Scripps Cancer Center seeks to provide the best possible treatment and cutting-edge research trials for patients by coordinating medical expertise in the areas of clinical cancer care, community outreach and clinical, translational and basic research. Scripps is the only cancer care provider in San Diego to earn network accreditation from the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer.


Founded in 1924 by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, Scripps Health is a $2.2 billion, private not-for-profit integrated health system based in San Diego, Calif. Scripps treats a half-million patients annually through the dedication of 2,500 affiliated physicians and 13,000 employees among its five acute-care hospital campuses, home health care services, and ambulatory care network of physician offices and 22 outpatient centers and clinics.

Recognized as a leader in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, Scripps is also at the forefront of clinical research, genomic medicine, wireless health care and graduate medical education. Scripps has been recognized by Thomson Reuters as one of the Top 10 health systems in the nation for quality care. With three highly respected graduate medical education programs, Scripps is a longstanding member of the Association of American Medical Colleges. More information can be found at

Media Contact: Steve Carpowich
Phone: 858-678-7183

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