Miskie was diagnosed with a very rare, aggressive form of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in July 2011. He ended treatment in July 2012, and as of 2016, he is the only person to have lived this long and without recurrence. Even so, Miskie says the mental and emotional effects of his treatment still inform his day-to-day life.
One of the most profound changes was the reduction of his friend circle. “I have a below-zero tolerance for shitty people now,” Miskie begins. “Even when I was in terrible circumstances, I still was afforded a really wonderful opportunity through cancer to discover who my real friends are, and I don’t think too many people can say that.”
Miskie said when he was at his absolute worst, people disappeared. “They didn’t even talk to me.” Now he can list a handful of people he believes are the core of his life. “[These friends] would do anything to be there for me, and I would do that for them.” He details this revelation—and more—in his new memoir.
But perhaps most significantly, Miskie found a renewed sense of purpose in his art. A lifelong musical theater artist, Miskie lost his passion for the craft post-diagnosis. “I wasn’t even sure if the theatre was what I wanted to do anymore,” he admits. It wasn’t until his friend Chris took him to a performance of “Newsies” for Miskie to feel a connection once again to the theater. He “ugly cried” for the entirety of the show, in large part because he understood once again just how profoundly theater could move its audiences. “I was the person in the audience who needed that so desperately. It saved my psyche. It saved my career. It saved my attitude toward everything,” he says. “No, it’s not surgery. No, it’s not saving lives, but it’s letting someone who may really need it escape.”
“Cancer, Musical Theatre, and Other Chronic Illnesses,” as well as its audiobook, are available at cancermusicaltheatrebook.com.