Inner Strength and Cancer

by Belinda Munoz on September 28, 2011


Inner strength.

You can’t touch it or buy it or cut it with a knife, but you’ll know it when you see it.

And last night, I got to witness it in spades. With red column lighting, crimson lip gloss and hot pink pashminas.

Eve at Grace. Eve Ensler, Tony award-winning playwright, performer and activist electrified Grace Cathedral’s labyrinthed space as she spoke with incredible courage and intense authenticity about cancer, both as a pivotal part of her personal journey having come out on the other side of it stronger than ever and as a metaphor for the diseases eating away at our collective humanity.

But if you know Eve at all and how invigorating her words are, you’d know that only she could speak about cancer in such an artful, illuminating and evolved way. When you listen to Eve speak, you get a sense that, as good as she looks and as amazing as she is, her mission is not to be a magnificent star on stage (though she is that) but rather:
1) to be the messenger of words so powerful you wish everyone you love were there with you experiencing those same words,
2) to impart a message so resonant that your life will never be the same again,
3) to issue a call to action so impossible to resist that you’ve now become an agent of change galvanizing others to join your cause.

Eve as a force must be experienced in person. Though I couldn’t do her brilliance justice, here’s a sampling of her voice, light and grace:

Eve invites us to embrace the power of community. Similar to Secretary Hillary Clinton’s call to join the Age of Participation, the sooner we understand that we can’t get anywhere without any help from anyone, the more willing we’ll be to extend ourselves to others.

I don’t know about you but I’ve heard big promises. And, attributable to naivete or idealism, I’ve believed many of them. I’ve written checks, I’ve given my vote, I’ve knocked on doors, I’ve talked to many, many strangers hoping to convince them to believe those same promises. But, as you can guess, I’ve been disappointed possibly as much as you have. If we don’t keep our promises, we really can’t expect anyone to keep believing in us or our words.

This is tricky because love is sometimes misunderstood. Love, at times, is much too exclusive that it leaves out those who need it the most. If we can grasp the true meaning of love, if we can love as deeply as possible and as broadly across oceans and borders and walls, then maybe we can begin to wrap our minds around just how incredibly powerful love is.






These are challenging words to many among us. These words make us avert our gaze, fall silent or cringe, if not downright punch us in the viscera.

But if these words can be uttered in a sacred, quiet space, if these words can be spoken within stained-glass windows of cathedral walls, if these words can echo in a room where the hierarchy of bishops and clergy reigns, then we’ve reached a new paradigm, haven’t we? Here in this new paradigm where imagination just became real, the unthinkable is now thinkable; the impossible is now possible.

The cancer of indifference.

The cancer of apathy.

The cancer of take-take-take greed without giving.

The cancer of me-me-me narcissism and caring about no one else.

This inner strength that Eve showed us last night in that sold out 1000-seat space, the inner strength that moved all of us to rise to our feet — I believe we recognized what it was when we saw it because it is the reflection of that same inner strength that lies within each of us. It’s there, lying dormant yet, with a little help from others in the context of community called earth, it can be awakened to beat the cancer that threatens to erode our humanity — to affirm all that is good and to save all that is worth saving.


If you’re interested in exploring Eve’s brilliance, check out V-Day’s website, read her books, listen to her TED talks or watch her plays.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sara September 28, 2011 at 8:39 am

This was such a loving and awesome post and I’m not using “awesome” as a slang word. You write with such power, depth and HOPE. There’s always hope in your words.

Regarding Eve…Isn’t it amazing how some people receive an illness, a hardship, a loss…and are consumed by it, falling down and letting fear cover them with it’s ugly mold.

Others, like Eve, receive their difficulty and turn it into a gift or a calling. Instead of falling down, conquered by fear, they are lifted up, empowered and strengthened.

They become the teachers — reaching out to remind us there is more than just our mortality. Whatever one believes, we are all connected and it’s through this connection that we can taste the immortality of love, faith, and unity. It’s up to us to see and act on this connection.


2 ayala September 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

Belinda, I wish I was there last night. Your post took my breath away and my mind is spinning. Thank you for a great post. Thank you for bringing attention to the important issues of our time. Thank you for always being a voice and paving the way to the light.


3 BigLittleWolf September 28, 2011 at 10:01 am

This sounds like an extraordinary experience. And these certainly are the cancers eating away at our society, and the world.

One human community. It seems so obvious to some of us. I wonder why it isn’t to others, but I’m grateful when there are those who continue to bring it to light with passion and grace, as many times as necessary.


4 Cathy September 29, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Your writing is as powerful as Eve’s presence sounds in your words. It sounds as if she really made you feel empowered – impressive and moving.


5 Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri October 2, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Belinda: The experience sounds extraordinary. And your words about it. Powerful.
Is there a way to procure an audio version of her presentation?


6 Belinda October 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Hi Rudri, my understanding is it was videotaped but not for public distribution. Instead, it will be part of a documentary V-Day is creating. She has a great TED talk in India that I highly recommend and I think you would find interesting.

I also at some point would love to chat with you about Desmond Tutu and the rest of the Elders’ effort to end child marriages — I know it’s a cause you support.


7 Madeleine Begun Kane October 2, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Thanks for a wonderful and touching post.


8 George November 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Thank you great and very moving post.


Leave a Comment

Previous post: On Changing the World

Next post: Jail Time and Standing Up for Something