The Parental Guide to Cancer
No one has ever watched a movie or a show about cancer and said, “That was uplifting.” Even if the person makes it out alive, that disease is one that no one really goes into with a smile on their face. That’s because um, it’s fucking cancer. So while I was going to talk about Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 50/50, I sat on a plane writing this and was like, nah – I didn’t like that movie enough, and I don’t remember it all that well. Plus, without the internet…how am I to really remember what the hell he and Seth Rogen even did?

So I went with a cancer storyline that left me, and I’m sure every other devoted fan of Parenthood, a mess every week. Kristina Braverman was the first person I ever saw on TV who actually had cancer. No, Monica Potter did not really have cancer, but her portrayal of it was too damn real and while she played someone a little older than the subjects I’m usually talking about, her performance could not be ignored.

When someone is diagnosed with cancer in a movie or on TV, we’re used to seeing the same scenes; shaved head, chemo room, some coughing, and then either their last breath or a celebratory survival. Parenthood said fuck that. They went in. They showed this woman as real as she could’ve been without actually being diagnosed. Her pain so realistic, I’m sure fans wrote in concerned for her well being. On the show she was a mother, a wife, a sister-in-law, an aunt, a person diagnosed with cancer. They showed her weak, they showed her close to death when it came to being sick, they showed her in a light that we rarely see unless we ourselves know someone or are going through it ourselves and it was, you don’t want to say beautiful – but it was striking.

Even thinking back now to that season, those episodes, I’m getting all weepy and thinking – damn, cancer. What do you even do when you hear your doctor tell you that you have it? You see people in real life doing those marathons and wearing those pins and it doesn’t really hit you unless it’s in your inner circle, or it’s you – but thanks to a show like Parenthood, people like me got to see it as much as we could and while you definitely feel for those diagnosed, Kristina’s journey made you get it a little bit more if you’d never seen it firsthand.

What Kristna’s story also showcased was that cancer treatment is a group effort. Your loved ones will be there for you and whether you’re her age, a child, or a 20-something – someone ill be there for you. So don’t push them away when the times get rough, they’re their to help. Also, don’t be unsociable when being treated because those people in that room getting help, they can and will be your allies just as much as your friends and family.


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