Breast cancer is in the news a lot lately. A famous British footballer’s wife just died from it last night. Her name was Rebecca Ellison. By strange and horrible coincidence, tomorrow night sees the premiere of a TV adaptation of the book ‘The C-Word”, the account of blogger Lisa Lynch‘s ultimately fatal experience of breast cancer. The forums were already ablaze yesterday with the impending airing of this show. Such a high profile death in the headlines and the forums are exploding in all sorts of directions.
In the discussions about the TV show, we were split fairly evenly into three camps.
The first was enthusiastic, excited to see breast cancer in the media. They were curious at how it would be represented, whether their own experiences would ring true with the moving images. The most powerful post I read was from a woman who was aware that she hadn’t really faced her diagnosis and was hoping the show would act as a catalyst for her to explore, process and talk over some of her feelings and thoughts. This is what art does best. It reflects ourselves back at us and helps us to see things we are too afraid or distracted to look at.
The second camp were interested but nervous. They weren’t sure they were emotionally stable enough to watch it. The general consensus for them was to record it and watch it later, or not at all.
The third, into which I fell, didn’t want to watch it all. Some because they knew for sure they couldn’t take on the emotions it would elicit. For a fair few of us though it was pure self preservation. I have bought wholly into the positive thinking approach which I’ve mentioned in other posts. I have firmly told myself that I am not going to die. I am going to be sick for a while and then I am going to be better. Like any other illness. The statistics back me up and positive thinking is proven to aid in my physical health. The C-Word might have been doable for me if the protagonist didn’t die. Her story ends the way I don’t want mine to end. My story has been carefully constructed. To challenge it is to break down some of the precious little action I can take to save my own life. Even researching this blog post was forcing myself to take a peek into the abyss that always lies in my peripheral vision. I had trouble even typing the search terms into google. Each keystroke felt like a betrayal.
What I’m also worried about is that people will start asking me about the TV show. Did I watch it, what did I think? I talked to hubby about this and he said it was similar to his feeling that as a Jewish person, everyone expected him to have seen Schindler’s List and have an opinion. He would like to reply, “That film is for you all, not for me.” That’s kind of how I feel about The C-Word. Not that everyone who doesn’t watch it is a Cancer Nazi. But maybe it’s an opportunity for those who don’t have breast cancer to get a glimpse into the world of someone who does. Another thing that art does brilliantly, lets us walk in another’s shoes.
Like the many and varied creatures we are as humans, the show and the headlines will effect people in different ways. Just as there are 200 different diseases classed as cancer and fourteen different breast cancers. On top of that there are a variety of gradings, locations and sizes. All adding up to a plethora of experiences as varied as the human reactions to them. So it’s not surprising that there is no one way of handling breast cancer in the media. If you want to watch, you’re right. If you don’t want to watch, you’re right. We must all listen to our gut and make that decision for ourselves. For me though, it’s time to switch off their stories and tune into my own.