A new voice for breast cancer awareness and survivorship through the power of entertainment

In 2009, Bridgette A. Wimberly came to The Gathering Place in Cleveland, Ohio to teach breast cancer survivors how

to write a play. She taught us about character development, dramatic arcs, conflict and climax.  The end result was our play ‘From Breast Cancer to Broadway’, a series of ten-minute plays written by eleven African American breast cancer survivors. It was performed at a sold out reading at The Cleveland Play House starring Ruby Dee and again at The Karamu House Theatre the following week.  Karamu continued our good fortune and included our production as a part of their regular theater season. It was performed for many sold out audiences during the 5-week run.  After the production’s end, we continued to meet regularly and have since formed the Non-for-profit company, Survivors Helping Other Women Survive (S.H.O.W.S). 

On behalf of S.H.O.W.S, I am indeed honored to recommend Bridgette A. Wimberly as a candidate for this program. Leadership is the process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. It is because of her that we eleven novice breast cancer survivors were able to take what was once a difficult life-altering and potentially life-ending experience and transform it into a platform for us to be able to transcend from feelings of fear, worry and emotional numbness to empowerment, drive and purpose.  Our new mission is not just to live, but to thrive and provide a new voice for what breast cancer awareness and African American survivorship looks like in our traditionally underserved communities.  Because of Bridgette’s outstanding teaching, guidance and leadership skills, our organization is able to follow her lead and format  and use the plays she taught us to write to reach and teach more women to become more proactive about their breast health. And because of her innovative way of using a theatrical production as a creative and culturally rich new medium to inform and empower, we are able to ‘pay it forward’ and give to others what our teacher/mentor/leader has given to us. We now are also using theater to significantly impact in a positive and profound way. We are in the community, mainly in our churches, presenting our plays, telling our stories, involving the area hospitals to attend and offer power point presentations on breast cancer awareness, and partnering with agencies and community outreach programs to offer support and/or services and no/low cost screenings.  Through her compassion and artistic direction, Bridgette has saved and redirected our lives and repurposed our energy. She has uplifted and empowered us and she continues to guide us.  We are doing good work and touching and saving lives because of her.

Thank you,

Bernadette Scruggs, President
Survivors Helping Other Women Survive
Cleveland, Ohio

Please Join 

Cherry Lane Theatre

in a Presentation of


38 Commerce Street, New York, New York 10014

​Mondays June 13th, June 20th, and June 27th, 2011

​7 PM




Cherry Lane Theatre June 13-June27, 2011

DeVonna White,  Playwright
The writing workshop was healing but what amazed me even more was to see this play produced and allow the audience to experience it. After seeing the play my family and friends remember the support or nonsupport they gave me. It helped our relationships grow either through forgiveness or thankfulness. I’ve heard testimonies of how woman in the African American community were tested for breast cancer even though in the past they were afraid. I believe FROM BREAST CANCER TO BROADWAY has a bigger mission than just entertainment.

Although I became close to the other playwrights during the workshop, I thought the relationships would fade after the classes ended. To my surprise, due of the success of the play, I have been adopted into a new family. A family of what we call Bosom Buddies. I know these ladies are here for me and I for them. We have lived through a devastating disease and we each know the importance of life. We have been invited into each other’s emotions and feelings, and I can truly say we are a sisterhood.

Breast Cancer stole so much from me. Breast Cancer stole my breast, my thirties, my trust, and my child. I am thankful that “From Breast Cancer to Broadway” helped gain things I would have never experienced, had I not had cancer. It makes me feel “special” because I had the dreaded disease. I whole heartedly appreciate the ones who decide to support our journey. They are supporting education, art, sisterhood and healing. God Bless You.

Sabrina G Heath,  Playwright
The FROM BREAST CANCER TO BROADWAY playwright workshop has been such a beautiful journey! What a creative way to tell our personal breast cancer stories!

While I was participating with the playwright workshop, I was also the primary caregiver for my mother who had late stage Alzheimer's disease. The workshop was such a pleasant escape for me from my caregiving duties, but also a way to honor my mother's memories when she was vibrant and able to communicate with me. My play was about how my mother handled my breast cancer diagnosis through the eyes of someone with Alzheimer's disease.

I also enjoyed meeting other breast cancer survivor's and hearing their stories, because of this shared experience, my fellow playwrights have now become part of my extended family!

Please continue to give other women the opportunity to participate in this reflective and very meaningful workshop. They might just discover a hidden talent!

Cheryl Williams,  Playwright
I arrived at the theatre early and had the time to spend in the Green Room with several of the actors. I introduced myself and they were very warm. I told them the history of FROM BREAST CANCER 

TO BROADWAY and shared as many personal journeys and time permitted.

The stipend meant a trip to New York for me.  Without it I could have never come to witness the effect the play had on the audience. The emotion was over whelming. I still relive it and know it was all for a wonderful cause and revelation and education.
Thank you for your thoughtfulness. Thank you to the fine actors and to the Cherry Lane Theatre for giving us a voice for that evening.

with Sabrina Heath, Cheryl Williams, Bernadette Scruggs, Lenice Bozman, DeVonna White, Denise Richmond Kelley, Loretta Heath, and Kim Martin Sadler

Bridgette  A Wimberly 

Bridgette Wimberly and Ms. Ruby Dee 

Karaum House, Cleveland, Ohio April, 2010


Want to tell your story? Want to remember a loved one? Send us a few sentences celebrating your survival or of someone you love and we may read it on stage during the June 13th and 20th presentations.

Participating artists include:

Ruby Dee, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Billie Allen, Yusha-Marie Sorzano, Linda Powell, Stephanie Berry, Roscoe Orman, Rosalyn Coleman, George Faison. Ananias Dixon, Chuck Cooper, Frank Bowman, Cassie Freeman, Zainab Jah, Lizan MItchell, Bridgit Evans, Marjorie Johnson, Perri Gaffney, Aimiende Negbenebor, Rodney Freeman, Leah Gardiner Molly Smith, Jackie Richardson, Cori Thomas, Bernadette Marie Scruggs, Pat Golden, Lynn Nottage, Bridgette A. Wimberly, Peter Lawson Jones, Terrence Spivey, Gretchen Cryer, Melissa Etheridge, Lenice Bozeman, Rose Dukes, Loretta Emery,  Sabrina Heath, Denise Richmond-Kelley, Kim Martin Sadler, Cordi Stokes, DeVonna White, Cheryl Williams, Brenda Pressley, Roslyn Ruff, and Linda Wood-Wims

June 13 at 7pm
*Dance Partners by Jackie Richardson * I Run for Life by Melissa Etheridge
*Waking Up by Cori Thomas * The Awakening by Sabrina Heath

​*Surviving Cancer and Crazy People by Bernadette Scruggs * A Gift by Cordi Stokes
*The Argument by Cheryl Williams

Reading of short messages from audience members by cast members

June 20 at 7pm
*I'm Ready by Kim Martin Sadler * Better and Better by Carol Snyder
*Dance Partners by Jackie Richardson * Waking Up by Cori Thomas
*Surviving Cancer and Crazy People by Bernadette Scruggs * A Gift by Cordi Stokes
*I Run for Life by Melissa Etheridge, corriographed by George Faison

Reading of short messages from audience members by cast members

June 27 at 7pm
*Karamu House 2010 production of "From Breast Cancer to Broadway, Cleveland"
by Lenice Bozeman, Rose Dukes, Loretta Embry, Sabrina Heath, Denise Richmond-Kelly, Kim Martin Sadler, Bernadette M. Scruggs, Cordi Stokes, DeVonna White, Cheryl Williams, Linda Wood-Wims, with transitional scenes by Bridgette A. Wimberly

Directed by Terrence Spivey, mentored by Lynn Nottage

FROM BREAST CANCER TO BROADWAY is a novel program designed to empower breast cancer survivors by putting their stories on stage.  Survivors are taught to write short plays that are presented in staged readings by professional actors on professional stages, encouraging under served audiences to be more proactive about their breast health. For the survivor this program is a cathartic, empowering experience.  For audiences, it puts a face on this disease from women in their own community.  Their work affirms, “I am a survivor.  You can be one too.” Ideally, women who avoid seeing a doctor fearing a bad diagnosis or who have misinformation about this disease will be encouraged by these stories to learn facts and fight the fear. 

Breast health education that ultimately leads to a reduction in late-stage diagnosis of breast cancer is the goal of this program. African American women present with one of the highest death rates from breast cancer in the U.S. and exhibit higher numbers of stage 4 breast cancer.   While researchers continue to investigate what makes us vulnerable; genes, ethnicity, roadblocks to access good health care, diet, and/or lifestyle, all agree that early diagnosis and prompt state-of-the-art treatment offer the greatest opportunity for survival.  We will teach breast cancer survivors within established health facilities, encouraging survivors from these groups to write plays and have them read in workshops.  These plays will be presented on stage formally.  We hope that over the course of a year, these survivors and their caregivers will increase the number of women seeking mammograms before they reach a stage 4 diagnosis.   

​FROM BREAST CANCER TO BROADWAY began in 2008 and has produced plays by over 30 survivors.  This repertory of mostly short plays include a full production of 11 Cleveland playwrights at Karamu House Theatre, October 28-November 21, 2010 winning 2 Cleveland Times Awards, readings at Cherry Lane Theatre October 26, 2009;  2010 reading at Cleveland Play House Fusion Fest with Ruby Dee April 24, 2010, reading at Karamu May 1, 2010, readings at Cherry Lane Theatre June 13-27, 2011, reading at Cherry Lane Theatre June 22, 2012; and reading at Pregones Theater July 14, 2013.  These program were done in collaboration with The Komen Foundation of Greater New York, Gilda’s Club, New York, The Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention, The Komen Foundation of Northeast Ohio, The Gathering Place, Beachwood, Ohio, and Lincoln Hospital, Bronx, New York.

CLEVELAND, OHIO survivors started the non-profit SURVIVORS HELPING OTHER WOMEN SURVIVE or S.H.O.W.S., where they are presenting their plays in Cleveland churches and theatres in collaboration with area hospitals.  We aspire to start a group in New York City and every city across the U.S. as well.  

The members of S.H.O.W.S.

Survivors Helping Other Women Survive


Actors and survivors participating in From Breast Cancer to Broadway including Ruby Dee, Karamu House Artistic Director Terrence Spivey, actors Richard Brooks, Yvette Ganier, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Billie Allen, Yusha-Marie Sorzano, Linda Powell, Stephanie Berry, Roscoe Orman, Rosalyn Coleman,  Ananias Dixon, Chuck Cooper,  Cassie Freeman, Zainab Jah, Lizan MItchell, Bridgit Evans, Marjorie Johnson, Perri Gaffney, Aimiende Negbenebor, Gretchen Cryer, Melissa Etheridge,  Brenda Pressley, Roslyn Ruff, at Cherry Lane Theatre New York, NY, Cleveland Play House and Karamu House in Cleveland, Ohio, and Pregones Theater and Lincoln Hospital, Bronx, New York.