On Monday, I had a follow up appointment with my oncologist – the last chemo follow up. In all honesty, I feel pretty awesome already. My hands are a little bit itchy and my thumbs and feet are still tingly from the neuropathy, plus I’m still bald, but I feel great. Thrilled to be finished with chemo. Thankful that on this Wednesday night I’m not dreading another infusion that would have taken place tomorrow. No needle in my port, no taste of metallic saline in my mouth, no weekend of feeling tired and worn down and off. Just normalcy… well… as much normalcy as one can feel after being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing a summer o’ chemotherapy.
Did I mention that I was followed around by a camera crew at my follow up? No? Well, I was. Yep, the marketing people at GWU asked me if they could film a little profile about me for marketing purposes, to post on the website and play on TVs throughout the Medical Faculty Associates building. I’m okay with being the poster-child for young adult cancer, in fact, I’m flattered they asked me. As with the pictures Rina took of me, a video of this experience will be interesting to look back on. Plus, the videographer said if I’m interesting enough (if?) he may want to turn it into a full-blown documentary!
Which brings me to my next point: tonight I attended a screening of the movie 50/50 that was followed by a Q&A with actor Seth Rogan and writer Will Reiser. In the movie, Seth Rogan plays Kyle, friend of Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is a 28 year-old diagnosed with a rare spinal tumor. The movie follows Adam from diagnosis through chemo to surgery, all the while exploring his relationships with Kyle, his girlfriend, his doctors, his parents, and his therapist. I thought the movie was wonderful – seamlessly weaving comedy with drama and showing a, for the most part, authentic young adult cancer experience.
Many scenes really hit home. When Adam hears the doctor say “your cancer” for the first time, everything seems to dissipate around him and the rest of the doctor’s words become jumbled. Many of his friends don’t know how to respond, and say the “wrong” things to him, as in “My uncle had cancer too… he died.”
(L to R) Doug Ullman, Livestrong CEO, Seth Rogan, and Will Reiser
The one thing I didn’t like about the movie was the moment when Adam’s doctor comes out after his surgery and tells the family “He is going to be okay.” One issue for a lot of young cancer survivors is the fear they carry for the rest of their lives of recurrence and new cancers. To wrap up the movie with such a simple statement makes everything seem black and white – like cure is extremely easy to achieve. Cure might be possible, in some sense, but young adult cancer survivors will never truly be “okay”. Cancer forever changes you. I realize they had to end the movie somehow and it didn’t bother me enough to negate the rest of the movie’s positive points, but I did need to comment on it.
Go see 50/50. It’s worth it. You’ll laugh and cry, even if you have no experience with cancer.
Tomorrow night I’m going to participate in a young adult cancer patient group at GWU, so it’s a cancer-filled week! I’m looking forward to a time in my life when I won’t have to say that.