Saturday, April 10, 2010

"The Big C": A Drop of Humor?

I just saw a preview for a new series on Showtime.  It is called "The Big C" and stars two of my favorite actors, Laura Linney and Oliver Platt.  This is the link to see a short preview so you can judge for yourself.

I am not entirely sure how the cancer survivors out there are going to view this.  Anything expressed remember, comes from my own opinion, no facts unless I can back them up are being stated.  As a previvor, one who has a hereditary or genetic predisposition for cancer but has not been diagnosed with cancer (see FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, I can see many issues evolving. 

There are many schools of thought and I have a toe skimming in many of them.  I agree that Life is not all seriousness and we need to add a dollop of humor in order to be able to get through Life less scathed.  Gilda Radner once said that Cancer does not like to laughed at, I am paraphrasing.  I have heard stories of cancer patients who would rent the Three Stooges Colection of movies and sit and watch and laugh.  In my father's case, he and Mom used to watch Abbott and Costello films at every chance they had.  Laughter is the best medicine so they say.  The truth really is that it only takes 2 muscles to smile and many, many more to frown.  So maybe laughter will not cure cancer but it makes it a bit easier to get through it.  Anyone who saw the movie, The Bucket List, can remember the bittersweet laughter shared by the two main characters.  My own reaction to ANY kind of stress or sticky situation  is to tell a joke or make people laugh.  I may interject humor too much but I would rather be distracted in that way.

Humor can definitely break the ice.  My uncle always started a speech before a group with a joke relevant to his subject and the audience.  But what about cancer is funny?  The other view, not really against humor, can be seen as more serious rather than being negative.  The treatments, procedures, decisions, plans and sacrifices are certainly not to be taken lightly.  Too many lives will be touched.  The world's view of a cancer patient has changed but laughter is not always associated with them.  More often fear, anger and pity are the feelings present.  Not to make light or even be sarcastic about a patient's feelings regarding their disease, but the family and friends surrounding them tend to be cautious at times, not knowing what the reaction will be until that first time they encounter the situation.  I was witness to my father's cancer journey.  Maybe today with the dose-dense treatments, he would have survived.  One cannot use 20/20 hindsight with the past like that.  So what does one do when faced with a diagnosis of cancer?

It is a very personal choice on how that patient decides to live their life.  Over the years, I have been fortunate to know many warriors and glad to say a huge number of survivors.  Some stay in denial a long time.  There are those that plan every single minute they have to either live the fullest or make sure all is in order "in case" they don't survive.  We also have patients who take it in stride and resolve to not let cancer get the best of them.  Are any of the choices right or wrong?  Who is the judge on that?  Who even has the right to presume the answer lies elsewhere for that patient?  The answer lies with each individual heart.  I marvel at the woman who sits stoically through chemo treatments right next to the one whose friends have shown up to give her a makeover while being infused.  The dichotomy happens all the time.  Each patient's personality is the key to how they handle their situation.  As a previvor, I think we go through similar though not entirely the same reactions. 

OK, so what about the TV series?  I will wait until it comes out on Showtime to make up my mind.  I am hoping it will treat cancer with the respect, fear and courage it deserves.  Yes cancer does derserve all of this.  If not, it can take over your life and love.  Cancer can demolish it.  But only if you let it.  That was how my Dad fought against Cancer.  If I ever am diagnosed, I will be just like my Daddy, face it and deal with it every day and take it in stride.  And in my opnion, the best way to prevent that from happening is to laugh.  Laugh so hard that it hurts the sides of your face.  So very hard you have to do the squeeze your legs crab walk to the bathroom to avoid an accident.  Laugh until you cry.  Then have a good cry and put in your favorite comedy, cuddle up with your family and friends and start the laughter all over again.

Love and hugs gang,

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