REARRANGED: An opera singer’s facial cancer and life transposed Kathleen Watt


  • Deforia Lane



In lyrical prose, with musical allusions, clinical references, and a bit of comic relief, Rearranged follows Kathleen Watt's plunge from the operatic stage into the netherworld of hospital life—its indigenous creatures, its peculiar language, its signposts of the mysterious human condition—through the devastation of cancer, and out the other side. Kathleen was a New York opera singer at mid-career, with a steady, lucrative chorus job at the Metropolitan Opera and solo gigs elsewhere, anticipating her best year ever. Instead, a vicious bone cancer blew her plans to smithereens, along with her face. She had to let everything go. Bit by bit, through a brutal alchemy of lethal toxins, titanium screws, and infinite kindness, she discovered new arrangements for old pieces, in a life catastrophically transposed. Not only a heart-wrenching medical odyssey but also, ultimately, a joyous personal journey of transformation.