April 9, 2009

TV saves me, slays me as cancer squeezes in

Cancer broke into the girls' TV night, the one night my daughter and I agree easily on the same TV shows. Cancer breaks into a lot of things these days. Cancer breaks a lot of things in my life lately.

On Grey's Anatomy, Katherine Heigl's character, Dr. Izzie Stevens, has metastatic melanoma with a 5 percent chance of survival. The skin cancer has spread to her brain and liver.

Perhaps this storyline was inspired by Eric Dane, who plays Dr. Mark "McSteamy" Sloan on "Grey's Anatomy," had skin cancer in 2008. But I don't need Grey's as reality TV.

Even as I dread watching, I find myself drawn in, fascinated how it mimics life. Izzy's boyfriend, a doctor, mourns missing symptoms and wants to know if acting sooner would have made a difference. I wonder why I did not push harder when my daughter complained of fatigue this fall.

I watch Izzy's friends not knowing what to do and doing nothing. I want to shout out that cancer is not contagious or pass out the 20 things cancer patients want you to know or Krasney's five things from Everything Changes so the friends will do something, do anything.

Sometimes cancer on TV works - it did on Sex and the City.

Cancer had slipped into our marathon Sex and the City day - my daughter wanted me to know more before watching the movie. I usually caught the same episode on TV so I didn't know that Samantha had been diagnosed with breast cancer or that one episode would have a support scene that would help prepare me for my daughter's baldness.

The scene is where Samantha spoke at a benefit for breast cancer research, a speech that starts out stiffly. She loosens up, and even receives a standing ovation for removing her wig onstage in response to hot flashes. Many of the women in the audience stood up and removed their own wigs.

Later, I learn on HBO that real-life cancer survivors are in Samantha's audience. They were brought together through Gilda's Club, a national wellness and support organization/community for men, women, and children with all forms of cancer. That led me to bald is beautiful., created by an ovarian cancer survivor.
"In retrospect, when I considered various aspects of the cancer journey, specifically the initial hair loss, I felt that there was a drastic imbalance of energy in how people, myself included, process the idea of being diagnosed and consequently experience cancer. I met so very many women along my path that were overwhelmed and beaten down by hair loss and/or other external, aesthetic issues that this health challenge raises, and we simply cannot afford any negative energy in the form of self-doubt, low self-esteem, and insecurity when we are fighting for our lives!"

Some young cancer survivors are happy that YA cancer hit's Grey's believing it's a chance to show that cancer does hit young adults and that skin cancer is serious.

Me? I can deal with baldness. I just wish cancer could have chosen a different show on a different night.

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