Karen Walsh, a Broadway actor who used her diagnosis with stage IV colon cancer at 40 to raise awareness within the theatrical community, has died, according to reports on social media.
Walsh received her diagnosis in September 2015 after going to the hospital with a cramp in her side. Wanting to set an example for her two young children, Walsh, with the help of choreographer Sam Pinkleton, began documenting her chemotherapy treatments on Instagram with themed photo shoots.
Walsh used this platform, which featured herself in costume alongside Broadway pals like Phillipa Soo, Brandon Dirden, and Blythe Danner, among others, to advocate screening for people under the age of 50 and to promote forward motion with the idea that a cancer diagnosis is conquerable.
In fall 2016, Walsh understudied Mary-Louise Parker in the Broadway premiere of Heisenberg. She made her debut Roundabout Theater Company's 2007 production of Prelude to a Kiss, and was later seen in Roundabout's productions of Pygmalion, The Road to Mecca, Machinal, and Suddenly Last Summer. Along with Heisenberg, she appeared in Manhattan Theater Club's Accent on Youth, as well as Lincoln Center Theater's Other Desert Cities.
Walsh served as a volunteer ambassador for the American Cancer Society's 80% by 2018 campaign, an effort to get 80 percent of eligible Americans over the age of 50 or earlier if there's a family history, screened for colon cancer by 2018.
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