Saturday, January 9, 2010

Showtime Picks Up Linney Cancer Comedy

I just saw this headline, and I have to say that I find the expression "cancer comedy" offensive and disturbing. I'd wager that other cancer patients will feel the same way. As a person who has lost a parent, aunt, and uncle to cancer, it's troubling; never mind the fact that I'm a cancer patient myself! This strikes me as a little too casual, and disrespectful. Basis for the show: "A suburban wife and mother finds out that she has cancer" - hilarious! No, it's not humorous: it's devastating. Ask anyone who has been in this situation.

Of course, there are going to be comedic moments as part of the cancer experience: the very day that I was diagnosed, my OBG said on the phone, "I'm going to prescribe an anti-depressant for you right now." My response was, "Okay, thanks; I guess that I might become a little depressed about getting this news." I was being ironic, but she was prescribing the drug for my hot flashes and night sweats, not for depression! The point is, I could decide to joke about this at the time of my diagnosis; but cancer is no joke to those who have to deal with it each day.

If you want to see a TV series which truly depicts what goes through the mind of a person who is diagnosed with cancer, watch "Breaking Bad" on AMC. Bryan Cranston is nothing short of brilliant in his portrayal. His entire world, and most notably, his moral compass, are changed by his will to live long enough to provide financially for the family he will be leaving behind. He ably portrays the shock, numbness, grief, anger, and conflicting emotions which a cancer patient goes through. Ultimately, he leads a double life in his quest to ensure that his wife, physically challenged teenage son, and newborn daughter will not live in poverty when he dies.

Correctly, this show does not take a comedic approach to a man and his terminal disease. It shows the sheer desperation and urgency he feels in the face of impending death, and what he chooses to do with the time he has left.

I still have my sense of humor, and I joke about various aspects of my cancer experience: being a "radiation and imaging supermodel", my many medications, my wicking t-shirts and PJs, not needing to give up my "pre-cancer lifestyle" because I'm so boring, etc.

But, I still find treating cancer in a comedic light unsettling. Perhaps I'm being too sensitive?


  1. Hmmmm... I agree with you that it is a touchy subject. It honestly depends on how it is portrayed. If you would like to write an article for Fight Pink, on how this affects you email me! Stacy Martello

  2. Stacy, thanks for the invitation! I will emai you ASAP. It's the expression "cancer comedy" which I find disrespectful and unsettling. Showtime could have worded their press release more sensitively, at the very least!