Chandler cancer survivors to take the stage The Chandler Arizonan

Chandler cancer survivors to take the stage

Chandler cancer survivors to take the stage


Three Chandler women will be taking their stories of surviving cancer to the stage later this month to help raise money for a nonprofit that helps other women who face the same struggle.

The women – Priya Kalra, Jennifer Rio Ruddle and Jessica Wells – are among eight Arizona women who will tell their respective stories as part of “S.T.A.R.S.: Survivors Take a Real Stage,” hosted by A 2nd Act.

S.T.A.R.S. is a live, curated storytelling performance featuring local women who have faced a terrifying diagnosis and are using their gifts of life and experience to give back to the greater good.

The event takes place March 22 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in Old Town Scottsdale.

“There [are] tons of research supporting the theory that healing in helping. Our amazing storytellers are doing wonderful things in the world,” said Judy Pearson, founder of

“And the value of a 2nd Act isn’t defined by size. Giving time one-on-one is just as valuable as creating foundations and building hospital wings.”

“Let me assure you, this performance is thought-provoking, humorous, and motivating as well as inspiring,” Pearson said.

Wells, a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survivor, Jessica is a licensed master social worker with a masters degree from Arizona State University who specializes in child welfare and pediatric medicine, including hematology and oncology.

“Her passion for working with patients and families whose lives have been affected by cancer is fueled by her own personal cancer journey,” a spokeswoman said.

Her second act – detailed at – was born midway through grad school and her own cancer treatment. She changed direction to become an oncology social worker.

Priya Kalra, who overcame breast cancer, was born in India, raised in Zambia and is now a U.S. citizen.

Her mantra is “Everything happens for a reason” and she interviews survivors on her YouTube channel to give hope to others beginning their journey through cancer treatment. She discusses her journey at

Kalra realized after cancer that self-care was critical and her YouTube channel, “Conquering Cancer and Beyond,” aims to help other women confront the challenges she dealt with.

Ruddle, who survived colorectal cancer, is a commercial and theatrical actress, an ASU graduate, a dog mom – and America’s Mrs. Arizona 2020.

Her diagnosis with Stage IV colorectal cancer terrified her, but once she connected with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, she realized she had a story that could help others. Becoming Mrs. Arizona 2020 has given her the perfect stage for sharing her story, she said.

Olivia Fierro, anchor of 3TV’s Good Morning Arizona, will emcee the S.T.A.R.S. performance.

This year marks A 2nd Act’s fifth annual performance – the organization’s only annual fundraiser.

“Recognizing that helping is healing, the mission of is to celebrate and support women survivors of all cancers who are using their gifts of life and experience in a 2nd Act for the greater good,” the nonprofit said.

Money raised by the S.T.A.R.S. performance supports the organization’s micro grants, which provide seed money for local women survivors ready to launch or grow their second acts.

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