Cancer, a tumour and extreme heart palpitations have not stopped a 21-year-old from Burgess Hill from following her dream of making it in performing arts.
Catherine Carpenter grew up performing on stage, but was diagnosed with kidney cancer when she was 12 and after recovering doctors found a benign tumour.
She explained: “When I became ill I had to put everything on hold. I had chemo and then I got a tumour a couple of years after I had the cancer, I’m OK but I’ve got a heart condition and I’m in a wheelchair sometimes.”
But Catherine’s determination has seen her through, and she has now produced, directed and has a small acting part in a production of Starseeker to be performed at The Hub Theatre, Central Sussex College, Haywards Heath on September 5 and 6.
All proceeds from the performance will go to charity CLIC Sargant who helped her through her illness.
Catherine described her transition from performer to director: “I have loved drama for a long time, my aunty was an actress and I loved watching her.
“Being in shows now is quite hard, I don’t have the energy for it so I started directing and I love it.
“Directing would be a dream job now, I know it’s a bit out there, but if I had a dream that would be it.”
But for Catherine, a former Burgess Hill School for Girls student, even directing can be interrupted due to her health issues.
“It has been stressful, there have been ups and downs, lots of stress, even ambulances!
“Because of my heart condition people think I’m having a heart attack but I’m not, I can have palpitations for two and a half hours.
“We’ll get there, everyone’s been incredibly supportive, my boyfriend has even run rehearsals when I’ve been ill.”
Catherine’s boyfriend Matthew Muddle is in the play along with her dad and aunty.
Matthew said: “Through ill health and consequential disability, Catherine’s determination and passion for drama, supported by a dedicated and amazing creative team, hasn’t stopped her doing what she has always wanted to do.
“Though she doesn’t always find things easy, she will complete the task with the best of her ability. She has overcome many challenges and still works just as tirelessly for everything. She wants to show her gratitude for all the help that CLIC Sargent gave her during her ill health. Also, as September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, there is even more of a reason to raise public perception for this brilliant charity and all those young cancer patients and their families.”
CLIC Sargent sent a nurse to Catherine’s house once a week, looked after her on the ward and supported her throughout her cancer.
“They even looked after my mum, finding out how she was dealing with everything,” Catherine explained.
Her ambition is to study Film Production at the University of Chichester this September if she can work it around her health problems.
“It’s not easy, I rely on my mum a lot, I’m not sure if it’s going to work or not,” she said.
But the production of Starseeker, based upon the novel by Tim Bowler, is a huge achievement in itself.
Catherine said: “I chose Starseeker because it’s an incredible story, with lots of issues, it’s an inspiring story.
“Selling tickets is really hard, it’s only little old me and my friends and we want to give as much as we can to CLIC Sargant.”
Tickets are available at www.hubtheatre.co.uk or call 07805760326.