Fast 5 with writer, humorist, activist Tania Katan

Tania Katan and her dog, Felix

Tania Katan and her dog, Felix
(Photo by Steve Craft)


I first “discovered” Tania Katan in 2008 when I stumbled upon her memoir “My One Night Stand with Cancer.” Published in 2005, the book recounts Katan’s battle with breast cancer, a war she waged at both ages 21 and 31, and to which both of her breasts were ultimately lost.

The intensely candid memoir earned Katan honors as the recipient of the Judy Grahn Nonfiction Award, the Stonewall Book Award and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. It also revealed her survivalist sense of humor, one which resulted in her listing “lesbian sex” as her preferred method of birth control when completing intake forms at the breast clinic.

Now 12 years removed from her last fray with cancer, Katan spends her time writing, performing and using her battle-tested sense of humor to effect change in the world. Currently, Katan is the “Producer of Shenanigans” at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art where she creates events like Arm Wrestling for Art.

Katan faced our Fast 5 questions as bravely as she stared down cancer and, just as she did with the disease, she came out a winner.

1. Which individual has been your greatest professional influence?

My mother, Joelle Katan — a single-mom raising three kids, holding down two jobs and going to school full time to earn her degree in Social Work.

2. What song can you not get enough of right now?

A song I wrote for my dog Felix. I sing it to him when we go on walks. It goes a little something like this:

“Felix, your not a cat, but if you had to wear a hat
In a pinch
It’d be a cinch
Cause you’re so cute; yeah, you’re so cute!

Felix you are so cute,
But we have to finish our route,
You need to walk
We need to play
And you need to poop; yes, you do!”

3. Which celebrity would render you totally star struck if you were to meet him/her?

Gilda Radner.

4. Beach or mountains?


5. If you could wake up tomorrow with one talent or skill you don’t presently have, what would you want that to be?

Olympic Curler. I already have the pants, so then I’d just need a broom and some lessons.

For more on Katan, visit, follow her on Facebook or Twitter and watch her TEDx Scottdale presentation below.

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