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The Cancer Café

Welcome to The Cancer Café: A Journey From Diagnosis Through Stem Cell Transplant, written and performed by Judith Dambowic.

At age 58, Judith Dambowic was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable blood cancer with no clear and accepted treatment path and a limited life expectancy. Judith who worked in the medical field as a physical therapist is no longer the medical provider. She is now the patient and enters a community shared only by others faced with similar dilemmas and choices.

I met Judith some years back on a four-day whale-watching trip in Baja California organized by mutual friends. A group of 20 nature-loving women with backgrounds in law, medicine, education, and the non-profit sector, camped at an eco-lodge along the shores of San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja California. Although our ages ranged from 20s to 70s we greatly enjoyed getting to know each other and playing some spirited games of Scrabble, Bananagram, and Quiddler. Both the kinship and the whales were magnificent.

Through our mutual friends, I heard of Judith’s multiple myeloma diagnosis and subsequent stem-cell transplant. A reminder of life’s fragility. I don’t know a single family who hasn’t been personally affected by cancer. I was pleased to learn that Judith was doing well and studying with David Ford, the esteemed dean of the Bay Area solo performance scene (so named by the SF Chronicle’s Theatre Critic). I too got my start in the world of solo performance by taking classes with David Ford and he directed my first one-woman show, Tell Me Your Name.

I saw an early installment of The Cancer Café and I was so moved by Judith’s story. Her perspective and experiences (besides being good theater) are educational tools which have much to teach us about illness, wellness, and the importance of community and faith, when we in crisis in the face of illness and loss. Don’t miss it.

Both performances are fundraisers to support worth causes. Following each show, Judith will have an on-stage discussion with her partner Rabbi Chaya Gusfield, Palliative Care Chaplain.

Saturday, May 12, 7 pm

Beth Chaim Congregation

1800 Holbrook Drive

Danville, CA

Suggested donation of $18, cash or check.

Thursday, May 17, 7:30 pm

Kehilla Community Synagogue

1300 Grand Avenue

Piedmont, CA

Suggested donation of $20, cash or check.

Tickets available at the door.

I've worked for 30 years with people who are writing and performing their own stories. In that time I've heard a lot of people give witness to the trials of having a life threatening disease. Judith Dambowic goes further than anyone I've encountered. She gets the awful contrasts of fear and courage, agency and impotence, armor and vulnerability.”

-- David Ford, the "dean of solo performance”

More information about Judith's show at

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