A Movie Review – 50/50

red ink . . .

Watched the movie 50/50 a couple of days ago after being given the go ahead by my 14 year old (going on 21) son who told me I could handle it. It turns out that he “pre-screened” this movie about a young man (Adam) who is diagnosed with a rare cancer, and the reaction of his best friend (Kyle) and family to see if I would “be o.k.” watching it. He’s funny, and very protective of his mom, but that’s another post. He was right. I handled it just fine, but not without a few sobs (more about that later), more than a few laughs, and a lot of . . . is that what’s I’ve been doing? Is that what it’s like? It was a inside good look at life in the cancer lane from a young person’s perspective.

The whole time I was looking at it, I was thinking about Barb and her journey. I was grateful for so many things – that she has her husband and daughter and isn’t trying to navigate a new relationship (can’t imagine going through our dating phase AND having cancer), and wondered whether it was tougher to go through this knowing what you may have to lose and having something to fight for or not having had the opportunity to have a family yet at all; grateful that she hasn’t (to my knowledge) had to sit in a room full of other patients yet; and dear God grateful that she doesn’t have to take the BUS to chemo! Truly a low point in the movie.

From my perspective, I thought the movie “got” the close friend/family stuff pretty dead on. I’m always trying to make her laugh and to talk to her about the things that we would normally talk about, but I surely have the books about how to support your friend all over my house, and I do my grieving (I think I can call it grieving) alone, outside of her presence. She’s got enough to deal with and truly doesn’t need me to grieve all over her. The movie also clearly communicated that some people in your life, like the girlfriend Rachel in the movie, will disappoint you because they just can’t handle it, even if they have good intentions and try really hard. It’s heavy stuff, and even if some people will drive you to the fire, they just can’t get too close to the flame and stay there. For a chick who’s having hot flashes, I can assure you that it’s not always easy to be near the flame, but I can’t imagine being anyplace else. I just peel off the layers and turn on my fan! During the holidays right after her surgery, a few people were asking me about Barb, and as I was sharing some of her ups and downs, someone abruptly cut me off saying “let’s talk about something happy.” Wow! I realized then that even I, running parallel to the cancer lane, am too heavy for some folks.

The mom piece touched my soul. His mom’s deep sadness and love, but inability to comfort her son in any other way but to smother him and to just keep calling, hit me in my heart. I imagine myself being like her if this were my child. I was grateful that he realized, if only momentarily, how difficult this must be for her and took a moment to comfort her in the midst of her suffering. It has to be impossible for a mom to watch her child face something so scary that you can’t fix. I can only relate to the struggles that my teenage son is facing (medical and otherwise) that I just can’t “fix” and it truly breaks my heart.

I was also struck by the way that the older men in chemo together introduced themselves by their illnesses which demonstrated to me how cancer can define you if you allow it to because it takes up so much space in your life.

I sobbed in two places, when the chair for one of the threesome is suddenly empty and we know he won’t be back, and when he’s going in for surgery and is just so scared. The thought of Barb being scared kept me up at night before her surgery. I knew she was very well cared for with her hubby, her mom and dad, but I wanted to be there holding her hand, as her friend. Hell, I was scared too. I did the best I could long distance, and only exhaled when Brendon first, then Tracey (her cancer mentor) called me to tell me that she was o.k.

From a friend perspective, I also saw how important it is to let your friend tell you what they need and when they need it, to listen to them, but to make yourself present enough that they don’t have to work too hard to ask for your help. Most importantly, you have to know that you really can’t just impose yourself on somebody who is living life in the cancer lane. Let them navigate and give you the directions.

Finally, as the romantic sap that I am, I truly loved that Adam began falling for his therapist and she for him. Love really is stronger than cancer, and definitely gives you motivation you need to survive.

Watching this film, I laughed out loud and I cried, and it hit me that this is probably how some people respond to our blog. Barb’s much funnier than I am but we both try hard to make sure it isn’t always too heavy. But the reality of it all is, well, pretty heavy, and it can sometime make you cry.

The Inkwell Chicks version of the film would be, I can assure you, much, much more colorful! In the meantime, if you haven’t already seen it, watch 50/50 . . .

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