Allow me to write about something today that veers away from my normal personal life reflections. This has nothing to do with anything, but what the heck. It’s a topic always on my mind and in our conversations, so why not share! The topic? How cancer and/or death is portrayed on TV and in movies, and how way, wildly off it is. I’ve got a bone to pick with you Hollywood!
Think of any movie or tv show you’ve watched where it has featured cancer or death in some way – and now think to the next scene or episode – it’s gone! People are happy, instantaneously. Cancer is healed in like one doctors appointment and life returns to normal, the next day. Smiles are huge, life is great!
What a farce! And what a missed opportunity on a platform that reaches so far and wide. The presence of cancer and/or death on TV is actually quite prevalent. It’s like when you see a red slug bug at the start of your road trip, you call it out and then for the rest of the trip, you swear the only cars on the road are red slug bugs. References to cancer really are everywhere, most people are just oblivious to it since there’s no personal connection. And because it glazes over the brutal reality. Sadly, it sets up anyone that goes through either cancer or loss for such failure. It’s supposed to be easy, don’t you know?! It also sets up networks of support for failure too as that’s all that’s a reference point, unless you’ve had someone close to you go through it. Granted, there’s a happy median to it – if I were to sit here and detail the lows of the lows of either a cancer fight, or losing a daughter, I would scare everyone away from ever leaving their house or getting checked out again. But what a huge opportunity there is in this world to bring people in more to the realities of cancer and the way it grips and destroys ever fiber of your being. You rebuild, you bounce back but you are never the same. And likewise, the same goes for grief. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been watching something and I’m like, “fake news!!” to how something is all portrayed. It really grinds my gears.
But. All that said and why this is even on my mind this frigid Saturday morning (you have to be wondering why this is a bone I want to pick as it can seem so trivial) is because after an exhaustive holiday season, I’ve been hitting the hay early this week and I will usually watch an episode of Parenthood. Have you seen it? It’s amazing. I believe that show is as “real” as you can find on TV in terms of portraying family dynamics and how they navigate the highs and lows of life. They hit it all. Including cancer. And this week, I watched the episode where the Mom is diagnosed. I sound silly saying this since it’s fake but the episode where she is actually diagnosed mirrored my experience so much. Too much, actually. Kind of creepy really! Like right down to the first doctor experience! I laid in bed and balled of course (probably too soon?) but I also thought to myself – everyone should see this. Cancer patients/survivors because they nailed the emotions & the relationships. Spouses because they hit on exactly how they feel. Families and friends, that way, you don’t have to actually go through cancer to get a glimpse into how ugly it is and the different roles personalities play and how important they all are. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of true reality but I was actually quite impressed with it.
I have felt this need and want to help the cancer community so much. I don’t know how yet but I will! If this silly TV show can help, that says to me there is an enormous opportunity out there to better support, to better connect the dots of what cancer and loss really do to mainly the patient yes, but also to everyone involved that is impacted!
So, hey, maybe this is my calling to make my own TV show or movie. I did have a flourishing acting career during my elementary years, I was once even the rapping narrator of Jack & the Beanstalk. Yes, you read that right, I “rapped.” And don’t even get me started on how much I nailed my non-speaking role as a bunny in Snow White. 😀 Pure acting genius!