Grey’s AnatomyBlogs-contributors, Dan Waeger — By admin on October 1, 2009 at 7:50 am
It’s no surprise to anyone that I really like TV. Having lived through this side of cancer, it’s always interesting to me to see how the disease is portrayed on my favorite shows. For any of you that watched last week’s season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy, you’ll be familiar with the storyline that involves Izzy who was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. For those that don’t watch the show, Izzy was diagnosed very late and the cancer spread to other areas of her body, including her brain. She is blasted with chemo, and her life is ultimately “saved” by a radical brain operation. I have been pretty cynical around the whole story line, because I had expected the show to just miraculously cure Izzy. But they didn’t.
In a scene late in the show, Izzy and her new husband Alex are sitting in the oncologist’s office awaiting the results. The doctor informs them that the progress in her cancer was fantastic and that it was now “manageable”. Izzy and Alex look confused. They ask for a timeline. They want to know when she will stop chemo. And eventually it kicks in… Izzy will have to accept that she will need to live with cancer. She will need to live with chemo. She will need to live with no guarantees.
I know that feeling… when you realize that there is no timeline. There is only time. Forget statistics… you’d be planning a funeral way too early if you do for those with a stage IV disease. That is when you learn what it is like to live in the moment. And when you realize that the enormity of the disease can be too much. So it’s easier to focus on what you want to have for dinner or scolding someone for leaving her shoes by the door. Every day is one more day. Forget the timeline. There is only time.
At the end of the show, the characters do a voice over as various scenes play out. Usually I think it’s kind of cheezy, but this voice over really got me. So much so that I watched it several times to get it on paper. The topic is grief, and the words resonated with me.
“Grief may be a thing we all have in common, but it looks different on everyone.
It isn’t just death we have to grieve. It’s life. It’s loss. It’s change.
And when we wonder why it has to suck so much sometimes, has to hurt so bad… the thing we have to try and remember is that it can turn on a dime.
That is how you stay alive. When it hurts so much you can’t breathe… that is how you survive…
By remembering that one day…somehow, impossibly, it won’t feel this way. It won’t hurt this much.
Grief comes in its own time for everyone. In its own way.
The best we can do… the best anyone can do… is try for honesty.
The really crappy thing… the worst part of grief… is that you can’t control it.
The best we can do is try to let ourselves feel it when it comes. And let it go when you can.
The very worst part is that minute you think you’re past it, it starts all over again.
And always, every time… it takes your breathe away.”
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