Casey Wright has been fighting cancer his entire life.
The 19-year-old was diagnosed with an unrelenting brain tumor six months after he was born, leading to strokes and aneurysms that would have broken the spirit of people twice or three times his age.
But instead of giving up, Wright has thrived — and now he's telling his life story from the stage.
Titled "Casey and the Octopus" after a comment his dad often makes about "the octopus" that lives inside Wright's brain, the one-man show has a lot of material to work with.
By the time Wright was 12, he had already endured numerous surgeries and cycles of chemotherapy. As he recounts in the play, the tumour at one point wrapped around his left eye, killing it.
While those and other experiences may sound depressing for an audience, Wright says his goal was to inspire people and draw comedy from his life in order to show anything can be survived.
"Over my whole life I've been sick as a dog, but you gotta keep going," he told Global News after a preview performance of the show.
"There are so many people now who are complaining, ‘Oh my finger hurts, my toe hurts.' Well, big deal. I've faced death three times. So you can't ever give up."
Wright also shares the opportunities he's earned with his humour and compassion in the face of hardship, including becoming an honourary RCMP member and raising funds for various cancer research organizations.
The play was made possible by executive producer Danny Virtue, a family friend and Hollywood North stunt coordinator who has worked on multiple locally-shot film and TV projects.
Virtue has helped share Wright's story for years through his Danny Virtue Foundation, and came through with the funds necessary to make Wright's play a reality.
"He's the comeback kid," he told Global News. "He's been through everything, and he's the strongest kid I've ever met."
After moving audiences to laughter and tears in a series of preview performances, Wright says he's hoping to take the show to other cities across Canada and spread his message of hope and perseverance.
"It felt so amazing," he said about finally mounting the production. "I put my heart and soul into this. It's unbelievable."
More information about where you can catch a performance of "Casey and the Octopus" can be found by contacting the Danny Virtue Foundation through its website.
Danny Virtue has helped share Wright's story for years through his Danny Virtue Foundation, and came through with the funds necessary to make Wright's play a reality.