Lymphoma News Today posted a fun article yesterday called "13 Movies about Lymphoma."
OK, so watching a movie that features your own incurable disease might not be everyone's idea of "fun." But maybe, if you're watching as a cancer nerd, you can sneer at their misinformation and point out their bad science and medical mistakes. That's always fun. For me, anyway.
Seriously, though, watching a movie about someone with cancer was kind of a major emotional step for me. When I was able to do it, it was because I had enough distance from my disease to be able to see someone else having cancer, and not think about myself. It was a big step for me. (I've never watched Breaking Bad, which some people think is the best TV show ever made, because it premiered about 2 weeks after I was diagnosed, and featured a teacher with terminal cancer who started making meth so his kids could be taken care of. All a little too close to home at that point.)
One really, really important thing to remember, though -- movies have a way of playing with the truth. A filmmaker's job is to tell a story, not educate you in medicine. So if you do watch one of these movies, keep that in mind. Not only does a character's journey not have to be your journey, but it might not be anyone's journey, because it was easier to tell the story by making up details about the disease.
You can go to the link above to see videos of scenes or trailers for most of the movies, but I'll give you my own preview to help you decide:
1) Sweet November (2011). Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron. One of them gets terminal NHL. It's supposed to be a romantic drama, but I think it would come off as funny, because I can't help thinking of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure whenever I see Keanu Reeves, which is really too bad.
2) A Few Things about Cancer (2014). Nonfiction film, a story about a real young man with Burkitt's Lymphoma. This one might be hard to watch, but I really admire him for being willing to have his story told.
3) Athlete (2010). Another real-life story. This one features a lymphoma survivor, one of four people profiled who compete in marathons and triathlons. This one will inspire you.
4) October Sky (1999). Awesome movie about a teenager in a coal mining town who dreams of becoming a rocket scientist. Lymphoma does play a role, but you will feel so good after seeing this movie that you won't care.
5) My Lymphoma Year (2011). Sorry, don't know anything about it and can't find much about it.
6) The Weather Man (2005). Nicholas Cage. So probably as funny as anything Keanu Reeves is in.
7) Erin Brockovich (2000). Julia Roberts as a real-life crusader against cancer-causing pollution by a big business. She won an Oscar, and she wasn't even the best actor in the movie. (That would be Albert Finney.)
8) Five Star Day (2010). A guy's horoscope says he will have a great day, and it turns out to be horrible. He tracks down other people born on the same day to see if their horoscope came true. You can probably guess where lymphoma fits into this.
9) *batteries not included (1987). Kind of like "The Shoemaker and the Elf," but with small flying robots that are alive. I saw this when it first came out. Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy are an adorable old couple.
10) The Substance of Fire (1996). Family drama centered around grief. Timothy Hutton is featured.
11) Bang the Drum Slowly (1973). Basball/cancer movie, with a very young Robert deNiro. You'll cry, especially if you're Cubs fan, because you're already very emotional right now.
12) Infinity (1996). Biography of Richard Feynman, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics. Starringa nd directed by Matthew Broderick.
13) They Came to Play (2008). Another documentary, this one about an international piano competition for talented amateurs. Another inspiring film, too.
One thing I've noticed: there are a lot of lymphoma movies that feature actors who have won or were nominated Oscars (even Nicholas Cage!). Take that as an endorsement.
So if you feel emotionally prepared, try a lymphoma movie this weekend. (My recommendation: October Sky.)
I, personally, will be trying to catch up on Doctor Who.