In 2014, Sandra Carusi’s life changed forever. She was on the brink of making a career change – moving out of radio sales to getting back into the booth, back on the mic, and back on stage, when she was given the news – breast cancer.
Carusi is a comedian and radio host and her plan was to get back into the gig – but a cancer diagnosis that same year almost put a stop to that dream. Carusi had two choices: give up on her dream of radio and getting back to stand-up comedy or to let the cancer consume her and do her best to fight the good fight.
Carusi chose to fight but she also chose to live her dream. Since her cancer diagnosis in 2014 she is producing three radios shows, one of which is her own, Inside Jokes (an inside look at the world of stand-up comedy.)
For Carusi comedy became her outlet, but also her source of healing.
“I needed to get on stage to feel better, ultimately to have that euphoria that comes with being on stage. So I took any opportunity to perform when I could,” Carusi told Global News.
Her story however, does not end there.
Carusi is battling a fifth round of breast cancer. The tumor is large, painful and aggressive. It has been an extremely emotional time for Carusi, who is a single mother of 2 young boys. But she is once again channelling that emotion into comedy and towards helping and inspiring others who are facing the same or similar health issues.
The treatment comes with its challenges as her cognitive functions are affected – she often forgets things, is in pain, and exhausted, but she pushes on.
When The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie announced he was diagnosed with an incurable and rare brain cancer in 2016, he pushed forward and continued his tour. Carusi says she can relate.
“He said they were going to go on tour and then he got the diagnosis and he thought he can’t imagine leaving this earth not doing his tour and that’s a lot of what went through my mind … pain goes away,” she said. “Recently I did big indoor festival in Mississauga and there was like 20,000 people there and I had so much pain and was taking all my pills back stage.
“But I went up there and I felt great … I performed during chemo but he did so under work conditions, so I relate to him as a performer with cancer trying to share our art during our pain and trying to heal others while we heal ourselves.”
At 48 years old, Carusi says her battle is far from over but it’s a war she plans on winning, again.
“I have so much more still left to do … to inspire others … and keep making people laugh.”