Cancer in the Media

A real person, not enjoying her cancer

Cancer is a massively prevalent disease that will in some way affect every single person reading this.

Its treatment basically involves poisoning or injuring the patient, ideally to such a degree that the cancer is killed before the patient is. We’re generally happy if the cancer is beaten into submission long enough for the patient to die of something else instead – but that doesn’t always work.

Which means that if and when you do beat the cancer, you get to live the rest of your life knowing that it might very well come back, and you’ll  have to go through it all again.

And if you’re told your cancer is terminal, then you get to make the choice between a treatment which might make you live longer (but will at times make you wish you were dead) – or you can choose to receive no treatment, accepting the bargain that you’ll feel healthier in return for dying sooner.

The whole concept is pretty fucking miserable.

Cancer as portrayed by films and TV and other media, on the other hand, seems like quite a fun disease to have, especially if it’s terminal.

Characters with terminal cancer – unlike real people – get to engage in wacky hi-jinx, go on road trips and generally live each day like it’s their last – but without having to worry about any of that ‘feeling ill’ business that actual cancer sufferers get. Because people in the media (fictional or otherwise) don’t suffer from cancer (or chemotherapy), they battle it, and the mere act of surviving makes them fighters.

I guess anyone who actually dies from cancer just didn’t put up a fight. Unless of course it’s a disease that ravages your body and your immune system, and there’s quite literally fuck all that positive (or negative) thinking will do to impact your mortality. But that would be terrifying and random, like all death, wouldn’t it?

An actress, enjoying her pretend cancer

In any case, cancer treatment on TV is restricted to ‘you sometimes have to wear a wig’ – so you don’t even need to have anything amputated, vomit, be periodically hospitalised, get bombarded with radiation or anything.

It’s brilliant – and it’s instant character development and motivation all in one, too!

Although only if you’re a parasitical talentless arsehole of a writer who clearly hasn’t ever had to watch someone he cared about die of cancer, but is perfectly happy trading off the misery and suffering of others.


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