Monday, 7 February 2011

'I love the smell of chemo in the morning'

A quote some of you will recognise from Jack Nicholson in ‘The Bucket List’ and which, if I’m right, is itself adapted from another film.  'Good Morning Vietnam' ?  No doubt the film buffs amongst you will let me know. 

Anyway (and please, please don’t read anything into this) we watched The Bucket List on Saturday evening.  I wasn’t entirely convinced we should but Janine had seen it before and thought I should see it and, frankly, it’s brilliant.  Ultimately uplifting despite the grim subject matter.  I won’t spoil it for you by telling you the plot.  Just go borrow or rent (or download to your ipad or whatever you do).

Watching the film did make me think that there must be a study out there somewhere on the portrayal of cancer in film.  I wonder if you could track changing attitudes and responses ?  There must be a risk that we either romanticise or that we assume a standard reaction or response, which in turn feeds our expectations as to how we should react if we experience the disease.  In furtherance of my study, I watched The C Word this evening, a new drama on Channel 4 which has been billed as potentially ground breaking (and controversial) in being a comedy about living with a cancer diagnosis.  There were funny moments but ultimately it left me feeling unmoved either way.  It wasn’t that funny, not just because it is portraying experiences that can actually be devastating emotionally but because, well it just wasn’t that good.  If you have seen it, let me know what you think.  

Moving swiftly on to the real reason for this entry, Janine is back on Floor 16 of UCLH as a bed came up this morning.  The chemotherapy will start tomorrow.  It’s a shorter cycle this time as one of the drugs is missed out so we are hoping Janine can come home on Thursday.  The team seem pleased with her response to the first cycle which is why they are not now planning to scan or test anything until after the third cycle.  In herself, Janine was relieved to get on with the treatment but it has definitely been one of those days when she just wants this all to be over and done. 

There was one funny moment when I thought we had found ourselves in a ‘things you wouldn’t normally hear on a cancer ward’ round on Mock the Week.  A nurse came to weigh Janine whilst she was eating chocolate.  ‘Oh no’ she says, don’t weigh me whilst I’m eating this’.  ‘Ach’ says the nurse, ‘life’s too short to worry about your weight’ ……. I’m not sure either of them saw the irony.

The view from the room this time is East.  It also appears to be the deluxe suite with a sofa bed and a proper armchair, though no fridge.  I’d offer the sofa bed as a cheap crash pad after a night out in London but the food isn’t that good and there is no complimentary tea and coffee or newspaper.  Plus you wouldn’t like the stuff they give you through the drip.

Which brings me neatly back to the Bucket List.  ‘What’s chemo like ?’ asks Jack Nicholson.  ‘Well’ says Morgan Freeman, ‘if you can take the vomiting and your veins turning black and your bones feeling like napalm, it’s a day at the beach’.  I didn’t dare comment.  



Andrew said...

Let the film geekery commence.
I love the smell of napalm in the morning - apocalypse now.
Plus watching Jack Nicholson out act Morgan Freeman is a must in any one's book.

film geek, out.

Graham said...

Last time I was receiving my treatment, I was lying back relaxing on one of the reclining chairs. One of the nurses walked past and, completely unthinkingly (in a nice way), made a comment about swapping places. When I looked at her oddly, she realised what she had said - and immediatly started to appologise.

Sometimes you have to take these moments......

Geri said...

I still remember visiting Janine at Thames Valley Hospice and I accidentall knocked the small metal bin with my foot, at which point Janine says to me, 'Don't kick the bucket Geri!'

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