When Krysta Rodriguez learned she had breast cancer in September 2014, she experienced a flurry of emotions. From shock and fear to “this can't be happening to me,” the then 30-year old Broadway and TV performer with no family history of the disease decided she was going to take on cancer and never look back.

Bring it on

“It was strange,” she reflects. “My reaction was mobilization: 'What's next?'

“The moment they told me, it was 'this is what I'm doing this year, and nobody get in my way.' Of course, in a quiet moment later, I cried, but I think it was a good way for me to handle it. I turned it into a competition. I can beat this level of life — like a video game.”

Rodriguez underwent a double mastectomy, a last-minute decision she made on the operating table, and endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Despite the side effects, she marched on.

MOVING FORWARD: Rodriguez felt the need for action above all else. Though she had a private moment to cry, she has been focused on empowering herself and others to acknowledge what is wrong and act.


Helping others cope

“I didn't tell anyone for a long time because it was a private thing,” says Rodriguez. “But after a few months people were asking how auditions were going and I wasn't doing any of that. I wanted to just come out and say it.

“As soon as my blog started I saw how many other people were going through this, and realized that at this age it's not really that rare anymore. I had a platform, and wanted to raise awareness.”

“'As soon as my blog started I saw how many other people were going through this, and realized that at this age it's not really that rare anymore.'”

Finding the humor

“No one really sets out to make cancer funny; it just becomes funny, like the number of people touching your body and the number of times you're taking your blouse off to strangers. I laughed more in that first month than I cried,” she says. “I just embraced the absurdity of the situation.”

Rodriguez recalls, “ I was driving to one of my chemotherapy appointments and decided to do something fashion-wise. Because cancer attacks your femininity, I wanted to bring some of that back. My mom and I came up with name 'chemo couture.' I started taking pictures of me in crazy wigs.”

Looking to the future

Currently, Rodriguez is teaming with John Lithgow, filming the NBC mid-season comedy “Trial & Error.” She's excited about where her career is headed, but is equally passionate about educating young women about breast cancer.

“Everybody's journey is different, but I feel like I need to change the conversation about early detection,” she says. “I think people my age are afraid of what may happen, but one of the pillars of empowerment is saying something might be wrong. I'm going to seek out how to fix it, rather than be afraid of what will happen. Hopefully, my story can be an inspiration.”