Can(cer) Do! – Why We Should Talk About Cancer

Carol Preston

Carol Preston

I saw two productions about cancer in a 48-hour period this weekend…and went home smiling.

The first, produced at Washington, DC’s Theatre J, was called The Prostate Dialogues. It was written and acted by a very fine local raconteur, Jon Spellman. In 75 minutes – with no break – John unfurled his prostate cancer story from diagnosis to his treatment decision (surgical extraction at Johns Hopkins). Along the way, Jon peppered his experience with humor and a graphic depiction, through a normal and happy cell called “Glen,” of the development of those nasty mutated cancer cells. A five-minute description of a 20-year process. Brilliant!

Two days later, my husband and I saw a newly released movie in the U.S., “The Fault in Our Stars,” based on the best-selling, young adult book by John Green. The movie had received excellent reviews, so despite the subject matter, we went to see it. It’s about two teenagers, each with terminal cancer, who fall in love. Hazel and Augustus are doomed. We know it from the start of the movie. And yet, the film was done with grace and understatement and humor. There was no hyperbole. The acting was honest including the antics of Augustus’ now-blind-from-cancer buddy Isaac. Was it heart-breaking? Yes. Was it sometimes funny and often uplifting? Also yes.

As a nearly eight-year survivor, I expected to shed many tears at this movie. It was my non-cancer husband who welled up and forced himself not to cry in public.

Here’s the takeaway: In the U.S., we are talking about cancer! We are talking and laughing about it a lot and in the open, often with people who don’t have cancer. Cancer no longer is quietly discussed in the back room, in hush-hush tones with family and our doctors. Cancer has seeped, no, it is flowing into the mainstream consciousness. The more we learn, the less we fear. The less we fear, the more we live our lives through family, travel and work.

The mantra of my doc at MD Anderson in Houston is to “live large.” In other words, say ‘yes’ to as many opportunities and invitations as possible. If you live in the DC area, go see The Prostate Dialogues. In the U.S., cry and laugh with Hazel and Augustus at “The Fault in Our Stars.” And remember, cancer is not a dirty word. It’s a condition that we face, like Hazel and Augustus, with grace and humor, and now more than ever, in the open.

 

 

 

 

 

3 replies
  1. stacey hayes
    stacey hayes says:

    I have a blood cancer myelofibrosis , cancer is no longer hush hush, I am not ashamed and I do talk about it and I share with people who don’t believe im sick cause I look very good. Im good on the outside but the inside is not good. The only cure is a bone marrow transplant and that’s 50/50 chance of survival.
    I also saw the movie and liked it very much. Its sad that 2 young people r dying when they should have there whole lives ahead of them. They didn’t want u to feel bad for them, because we have to live everyday like our last and we need to stay in the moment. Im actually grateful I have cancer, it changed me to who I am today!!

    • Lorena
      Lorena says:

      Hi Joyce I also have an MPN (polycythemia Vera) and is True we are talking about and trying to learn as much as possible since this are still rare diseases.. and it is very frustrating when they say “but you don’t look sick”! .. Blessings and hang in there..

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