Cancer Featured in Films – our top picks
It is the diagnosis that none of us want to hear and yet it effects all of us in some way. The makers of movies and films have incorporated cancer into movies for several decades now and they can be helpful in different ways. Although none of us wants to have cancer nor do we want a loved one to have one of its many forms, it happens and it happens too often. Watching a movie with a character who has a form of cancer can sometimes help us cope. The character may survive and that gives hope. The cancer patient may lose the battle but even in a story line with that type of ending we can start to deal with our own grief.
Some of the cancer films are pretty realistic showing some real instances in the battle a patient goes through. Others choose not to show us the hair loss and the sickness that may come with chemo therapy but touch on the remarkable things cancer patients do that touch the lives of people before the disease wins. Most will touch us deeply and we should have some tissue ready for when the water starts to flow from our eyes.
Featured Movie: Johnny
Many of these movies play with the freedom from conventionalities that the end of life can bring. What are your priorities when you know death is near? That is the implicit question many of these movies ask. In a culture that hides death from the living, the inevitably of our bodies giving out at some point is a theme that movie makers can use to good effect to get our attention.
|Stepmom with Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Ed Harris, Jena Malone and Liam Aiken
As the title hints, this movie is about divorce but it goes so much further than that! We see the conflict between the birth mom and the new stepmom over the kids. Scenes that happen in real life every day. In it all the kids suffer the most and are the most victimized in the whole affair. Enter into the story that the birth mom has terminal cancer and it gets even more touching.
|My Life: A Life taken too soon, with Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman
A young man who seems to have it all, a great job and beautiful wife who has just found out that she is carrying their first child. Then the proverbial bomb gets dropped…he is not going to live long. He may not be here long enough to hold that baby. What would you do? How angry would you be at the circumstance? A good movie that deals with the feelings that we have when we get the news that life will be shorter than we expected it to be.
|My Sister’s Keeper with Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin
When one sister was brought into the world solely for the purpose of keeping her sister who has leukemia alive, it almost seems harsh to take it all in. The movie deals with what a family goes through with a terminally ill child, the depths they may go through to save that child. I don’t want to give too much away but the movie deals with the cancerous blood disease but more importantly deals with the importance of family when tragedy takes a hold in their lives.
|Sweet November (Keepcase): One woman’s way to deal with cancer with Keano Reeves and Charlize Theron
The idea is a romantic one, I guess. A woman finds out that she has cancer so she spends her months finding men to “help” for a month while giving them some romance. They can’t stay around for longer because she doesn’t want to get attached nor does she want them to. Until Mr. November arrives in her life, he won’t be so easily pushed away. Having watched loved ones battle cancer, this story isn’t very realistic. Those last months do not have much physical beauty in them.
|Terms of Endearment with Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels
Almost a classic – when it comes to cancer movies
Many women can relate to the mother and daughter relationship that is more combative than loving on most days. We find fault with each other, lay blame whether it is deserved or not and leave little guilt trips for the other to embark on. Sound familiar? Now, give one of them a terminal cancer condition. Does that change the lives?
An older movie but still very much worth watching and reminding ourselves that sometimes we take the battles too far and should learn to love each other because time may be running out.
|My Life Without Me with Sarah Polley, Amanda Plummer, Scott Speedman, Leonor Watling, Deborah Harry
She has lived for others all her life, what does she do now that she knows she only has a few months to live? To what extent can we/ should we sacrifice just give up on social conventions when the end of our life approaches?
|Erin Brockovich featuring Julia Roberts
A woman’s fight against big corporate business who are needlessly exposing people to cancer causing agents.
| Life as a House
An architect decides to build his dream house and to rebuild his relationships after being given the diagnosis of terminal cancer.
A physician who has lacked a good bedside manner, soon discovers how that feels when he is diagnosed with cancer.
| The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson
A comedic yet moving look at things we should do before we leave this life.
How do we deal with the big “C”?
The news that it is in fact cancer is a nightmare that many of us face in our lives. The news might have been our own and if you are reading this, you must have survived. Good for you! Often times, it isn’t that we have a form of cancer but that one of our parents, siblings or other relatives have it. It might be our very best friend who is about to be taken away from us. We do not want to lose them! We do not want to watch the indignities that they must endure to battle it. We do not want it in our lives. Period.
And yet, death is a reality and we have to deal with it. We feel anger, fear, helpless and sometimes hopeless. It is scary! With researchers gaining so much ground, there are better results in beating some forms of cancer than there used to be and that is a good thing. Sometimes, watching a movie that will bring you to tears will help. Those emotions that you have held in, trying to put on a brave face, need to come out. A movie can be the catalyst. It won’t solve your grief, fears or anger but it will help you acknowledge the feelings and possibly help lessen them in degrees.