“Motown: The Musical” star Valisia LeKae has chosen to depart the Broadway production upon discovering she has ovarian cancer.
According to reports, the Tony Award-nominated entertainer, who originally broke the news of her departure on Facebook, was six months into her run in the play when she learned of her diagnosis.
“As a 34-year-old, African American woman, I feel that it is important that I share my story in order to educate and encourage others about this disease and the fight against it. God has given me another role to play and like all my previous roles, I plan to go all in, only this time I plan to win,” wrote, LeKae, who played Diana Ross in “Motown: The Musical.”
The Berry Gordy-produced musical boasts an active undertaking with nearly 60 songs, rigorous dance routines and hundreds of costume changes. With her recovering from surgery and her chemotherapy starting and continuing through April, the chances of LeKae successfully juggling taking care of herself with being a part of the “Motown” musical were slim. As a result, the performer had to make her health a priority.
“I need to dedicate 100 percent of my time to getting better,” LeKae said. “It requires your full attention… The backstage show is just as busy as what’s happening onstage. There’s constant movement for me. Once I start, it just doesn’t stop. So it’s really important that I just said, ‘I’m going to have to just take a step back from my career as a singer, actress, dancer and performer and use my voice in a different way — as an advocate for this disease that I’ve now been diagnosed with.’”
In a recent interview with Karu Daniels for Playbill.com, LeKae revealed that the day before revealing her situation on Facebook, she had surgery (unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) for clear cell carcinoma of the ovary. Dr. David Fishman at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital performed the operation.
With coming out about her diagnosis, LeKae hopes that others will be encouraged.
“I don’t think it’s nothing that anybody else in my position wouldn’t have done,” she told Daniels in regards to going public with her condition. “It’s just another way for me to use my voice and be an advocate for this disease that I have now. I wanted to talk about it. I just wanted people to be aware.”
Upon discovering LeKae’s condition, the actress’ fellow “Motown” castmates came together to offer their support as well as pray with her. Not one to throw in the towel, LeKae maintains that her situation doesn’t spell the end of her career.
“My career doesn’t end because I’ve been diagnosed with cancer,” she stated. “If anything, it continues to soar.”