Boulay returns with concert for cancer survivors
Dr. Richard “Rick” Boulay is presenting “You Will Be Found: Songs and Lessons of Cancer Survivorship,” a concert and open forum for cancer survivors and their caregivers, 2 p.m. April 14, at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, 3231 Tilghman St., Allentown.
When Boulay’s wife was diagnosed with leukemia about 10 years ago, his understanding of the disease changed.
“I realized as a cancer doctor I knew the breadth of cancer and what it touches, but I didn’t know the depth,” Boulay, chief of gynecologic oncology, Lehigh Valley Health Network, said. “When it touched our family, I had no idea of how to make a go of it.
“It was the patients who told me what to do, gave me advice on simple day-to-day things and philosophical things which was a beautiful gift.”
Boulay founded the nonprofit Catherine Boulay Foundation in 2007 with the goal of “supporting the journey through cancer … and beyond.”
At First Presbyterian, music and discussion will alternate during the two-hour event, which supports local and national cancer-related charities.
Boulay’s CDs, “Hope,” “Peace,” “Love” and “Close to Home” will be available for sale.
“The concert includes two separate acts, each broken into five segments,” Boulay said. “The goal is to discuss several different topics of cancer survivorship in an interactive fashion and allow people to share their wisdom.
“We start off with audience-response monitor questions. We project a question up and everyone has little clickers and they can answer the question. You can find out in a minute or so what everyone’s feelings are.”
Topics expected to be covered are the financial cost of cancer, gratitude, spirituality and recovery.
“People are realizing how much, financially, cancer costs,” Boulay said. “As health care recipients, we have various ways in which we contribute to our own care.
“But there are a whole bunch of costs that are difficult to measure. There are a lot of people who struggle to get to work while they’re undergoing treatment.”
The Rev. Lindsay Harren-Lewis will lead the spiritual portion of the event. Boulay will perform “The Lord’s Prayer.”
“It’s just a beautiful piece,” Boulay said. “We chose to focus on the ‘Thy will be done line’ of ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ wondering if someone’s illness is God’s will and how people can reconcile that.”
“Not a Day Goes By” by Stephen Sondheim from “Merrily We Roll Along” relates to the reoccurrence of some cancers and the adaptations patients must make.
Boulay was inspired to include the piece after seeing Broadway actress and cancer patient Marin Mazzie perform at the jazz venue, 54 Below, New York City.
“Outcasts” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is symbolic of the time when patients are released from treatment but unsure if they’ve done enough and are hesitant to get back “out there.”
Josh Groban’s “Thankful” underscores a segment about gratitude in the face of difficulties.
Boulay’s daughter, Carolyn, joins him for the duet, “You Will Be Found,” from the Tony Award-winning musical, “Dear Evan Hansen.”
Carolyn Boulay is a sophomore vocal performance major at New York University, where she has landed leading roles in opera productions and been selected to participate in the New York City Lyric Opera summer program with a performance at Carnegie Hall.
“The sentiment of the song is great,” Boulay said. “Essentially, at your darkest hour, someone will come through for you. It’s just such a powerful message.”
There will be dessert at intermission and related fundraising offers for attendees.
“My hope at the end is that people just continue these conversations on the way home and throughout the year.
“So many people come up afterward and say, ‘I didn’t realize this was an issue for me until we discussed it.’
“I didn’t know how to bring these conversations up with people around me. Now that we know that it’s a common topic, it at least opens a door to have these conversations,” Boulay said.
Tickets will be available at the door or by visiting catherineboulayfoundation.org.