Valley actress learns of cancer diagnosis with show still in production

PHOENIX – A Valley actress discovered she had cancer while the musical she starred in was still in production.

If you happened to see her performance as part of the set of “The Color Purple,” you’d never know that Savannah Alfred was about to face a bigger challenge than entertaining a packed house on the night. of the opening.

“When we started doing the show and really got into it, I had a cough that just wouldn’t go away,” she said.

What she first thought was continuous sciatica followed by night sweats, recurring coughing and even shortness of breath at times during the show led to a turning point.

One show in particular after struggling to control his cough, his girlfriend suggested going to the ER.

“For theater people, for example, we don’t call. When you do a show, the show has to go on,” she said.

So, with an understudy in her place, Savannah would begin a series of X-rays and CT scans that showed she had stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A cancer that has spread throughout his body and can seriously weaken the immune system.

“Honestly, I was in tears because I was like, ‘man, I don’t want to leave the show,'” she said. “It was really hard for me to say, ‘I can’t do the show, I have to scream. “”

For Savannah, once treatment began, a crowded audience was now a high-risk atmosphere.

Before changing into her costume for a hospital gown, she took part in a few more performances after negotiating with her doctor to delay the start of treatment.

Savannah laughed when asked if she “begged her doctor to allow her to fulfill her role on the show.”

“I did it!” She smiled. “Just because the show to me is such an important show. It’s such a strong message. The overall message of ‘The Color Purple’ is hope. One line that I speak to myself and use as encouragement is “the good Lord works in mysterious ways”.

Her final performance before she began what she calls a “healing journey” was an extra show hosted by The Phoenix Theater Company.

One Sunday night, an audience paid what they could for Savannah’s benefit.

The evening’s tickets, concession and merchandise raised more than $9,500 for his medical expenses.

A video from that evening shows her longtime friend and cast member catching the audience’s attention after the show to share a few words.

“I want to thank you all for bringing the energy to our show tonight, which reflects the energy that we all know Savannah has and will continue to have,” the friend and cast member said. of Savannah.

After that night, Savannah was able to write down what she went through saying goodbye to the theater. The note was shared with Phoenix Theater Company subscribers.

“Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel. The amount of positive energy, support, and most importantly, love shown that night filled my heart and soul. Just saying thank you feels bad. So I’m going to say this instead. It’s times like these that you really get a glimpse of who you are as a person. How you’ve affected the people in your life and what decisions throughout your life. your journey made people think of you. A mirror stood before me and all i can say is i didn’t know i was so loved. To my village, my chosen family, my supporters, I love you all and even if it will never be enough… Thank you for everything you have given me in every way. As my manager always says, I will see you on the other side.”

Now, weeks into her treatment, Savannah says doctors told her her blood test was “really excellent” and her body was responding well to the prescribed treatment.

With ‘Dream Girls’ on the calendar, she hopes to have a chance to return to the stage.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Savannah to help with medical treatment.