Thursday, March 5, 2009

Made Me Nuclear

As a member of the Sarcoma Alliance I’m so proud that we are involved in Charlie Lustman’s “Made Me Nuclear” show (turn on sound). Charlie Lustman was a professional musician when he was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2006 and became a patient at Cedars-Sinai (Dr. Charles Forscher) in Los Angeles. I exchanged a couple of emails with Charlie about me attending his September 2008 premiere for the Sarcoma Alliance (SA) and we went from there. At the time I didn't know much about Charlie. I arrived in Santa Monica for the opening night (Thursday) and found I wasn’t on the ‘will-call’ list, but Sandra (will-call) let me in because I had the Sarcoma Alliance brochures, then gave me a program and seated me. I looked at the program and on the cover page was “Made Me Nuclear, presented by the Sarcoma Alliance, Santa Monica Playhouse 2008”. (That’s ALL that is on the cover page) The Made Me Nuclear show is a ‘pop operetta about surviving cancer’ as is described at (where you can read his osteosarcoma survival story and listen to a portion of each of the songs on the entire 'Made Me Nuclear' CD and purchase it if you want), and the songs in the show and CD follow the chronology of Charlie’s path from diagnosis to being declared cancer free. The show includes his comments between the songs.

The show is GREAT! Made Me Nuclear is a one-man show in a Community Theater. Most of the songs are upbeat, uplifting, and inspirational (my caregiver opinion). The show starts with “The Call” (‘we found CANCER’) followed by “Made Me Nuclear” and “Dr. O” about staging scans and surgical planning. “Are you Afraid” is the obvious next step. Charlie then has surgery, wakes up and describes his outlook in “Surreal to Me”, and then going through 20 rounds of chemo in “Stickin’ around”. “Come Inside” seemed psychedelic and (perhaps) how Charlie felt under the effects of adjuvant chemotherapy. “Chemo Brain” is self explanatory. In “Somebody New” Charlie states how he is starting his 'post-treatment' life again as ‘somebody new’, but DIFFERENT. “Just When I Needed You” is about his daughter who was born in the same hospital but 3 floors above him while he was in treatment. “Do What You Love” describes Charlie’s new outlook after completing his treatment, and “A Simple Song” is thanking the doctors, nurses, friends and family for their help during his sarcoma journey.

To tell the truth, I had tears during the first song “The Call” as I re-lived difficult memories. But as the show went on I found Charlie’s message ‘uplifting’. When I first left the Playhouse and went to the reception area I noticed the organizers had a note near the SA brochures, “Please Support our Presenting Sponsor”. I waited and finally was able to meet and talk with Charlie, but he had MANY others waiting to speak with him, so I let them. Charlie let me ‘will-call’ people for the following night (Friday), so I came back with some members of the LA area sarcoma support group. The second night was almost full, and at the show’s end Charlie received a standing ovation from those in attendance.

AGAIN, I’m SO proud that the SA is involved with this. The Made Me Nuclear show and CD don’t JUST describe the journey of someone with sarcoma, but it may relate to the journey that ANYONE with cancer might experience.

I originally posted the above message in September 2008. The Made Me Nuclear show was supposed to run to the end of October 2008, but it has been extended several times and is now extended through the end of March 2009. Last Saturday was the 52nd Made Me Nuclear show. Saturday's show was sold out and Charlie received a standing ovation. Charlies wife just had their 3rd child (a boy) so there's NO SHOW March 6-7, but there's shows every Friday and Saturday through the end of March (March 14 is already sold out, and he's talking about extending the show through May 2009). Since the September premiere Charlie allows me man a table in the patio of the Playhouse representing the Sarcoma Alliance and talking with audience members as they leave the show.

Again, I'm soo proud that the Sarcoma Alliance is involved with this show, and I'm proud to be at the show representing the SA.

Dave Murphy
Sarcoma Alliance Board Member

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