Triumph over cancer inspires ‘Dead Girl Walking’

Published 8:24 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2008

By Staff
Ocracoke woman is subject of documentary
Special to the Daily News
Ocracoke resident Marcy Brenner is a musician, wife, mom and a writer.
She’s also a cancer survivor and the subject of a documentary film about her experience with advanced breast cancer.
Ray Schmitt of Real Earth Productions was inspired to make a film about Brenner after hearing her original song “Dead Girl Walking” and he gave his film the same title.
Brenner was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34, just after her mother died of ovarian cancer. She went through two bouts with breast cancer and was treated with high-dose chemotherapy and radiation and also underwent a bone marrow transplant.
Today, Brenner is in remission, but she continues to be a support person for people facing a cancer diagnosis. She was the keynote speaker at the 2000 and 2008 Outer Banks Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
Brenner says that cancer gave her backhanded gifts.
In the film, Brenner describes how having cancer taught her to live while she’s alive and to ask herself what she really wants to be doing with her life. She met her husband, Lou Castro, while she was still undergoing treatment for cancer, and says it was “a miracle to fall in love again when I didn’t dare dream of a future.”
Together they moved to Ocracoke and became the musical duo Coyote. They are regulars at the Ocrafolk Opry and the Ocrafolk Festival, and have their own Coyote show with Hatteras singer-songwriter Noah Paley on Friday nights during the summer at Deepwater Theater in Ocracoke village. Castro also plays with Ocracoke’s Molasses Creek and travels with them when they go off the island. Brenner and Castro, along with David Tweedie and Gary Mitchell of Molasses Creek, have been playing Sunday nights at the Jolly Roger Pub this year and will continue through September.
Coyote has recorded three CDs: “Coyote Live on the Outer Banks,” “Home to Me” and “Another Year Blooms.” Brenner is also writing a memoir of her cancer experience.
Brenner opened her keynote address at this year’s Relay for Life with an original song “Another Year Blooms,” which she wrote for her “two Charlottes.” The first was her mother, Charlotte Brenner, and the second is her daughter, Charlotte Castro, whom she and Castro adopted at birth last year.
The “Dead Girl Walking” film includes interviews with Brenner and Castro, home-video footage of Brenner during her illness and lots of music, including the songs “Dead Girl Walking,” “Another Year Blooms” and others inspired by Brenner’s wake-up call to life.
The first public screening of “Dead Girl Walking” is slated for Sept. 12 at Ocracoke’s Deepwater Theater. The event is free and open to the public.
Sundae Horn is staff writer for The Ocracoker, which is published weekly by the Washington Daily News.