I heard that a cancer support organization recommends family of cancer patients not attend this movie because it gives such an accurate portrayal of the world of cancer. I've also heard that the book is better, or at least is very different. I don't expect I'll pursue either for now. I'm not sure how other people who have read or seen it will perceive our own experience, but one thing I know is there are just parts that can't be portrayed or described, the only way you can truly know it by living it.
Something else that got me thinking on this topic was watching an episode of "America's Got Talent" last night. The woman at the end was amazing - she performed opera style which isn't something I'm necessarily drawn to but it came across very well. When she finished, the judges praised her, and then she shared she was in remission from cancer. I found it interesting that the judges then became instantly enthralled with her and said she not only had amazing talent but was an amazing person. Maybe what they meant was that she still pursued her dream, didn't let the potential threat of the illness keep her down.
People have treated Ethan that way as well. You become an instant superhero when you've had cancer. And it's true - being a cancer patient is an incredible challenge, and I commend Ethan for persevering so well. At the same time, he had no control over what happened to him and HAD to deal with it.
That being said, family members are faced with a lot as well and are treated with increased respect, but I'm pretty sure any family member you talk to would say the respect and attention isn't worth what you go through. That's not to say that good things don't come out of it, they most certainly do. But the way others view you isn't one of those things. Whenever I hear of someone who potentially might have cancer, I pray with all my might that they test negative. I don't want them to have to go through it. I cried when I found out Samantha's classmate's mom had lymphoma, someone I barely know.
So what's the hardest part? What a tricky question. Getting the news, being in shock, processing all the treatment info and meeting all kinds of personnel, watching your loved one suffer, fearing the outcome of treatment, living in a strange house in a strange city, sharing a kitchen w/ others....
For me, the best way I can describe it is loss. Loss of innocence, security, routine. And being that in our case it was a teenager, watching him lose so much at a point in his life when independence was w/in his grasp. That really hurt. Not only was I worried about whether he'd be okay physically, but in all of life as well. One thing that really helped was having Caringbridge and having lots of visitors in Memphis. It helped us keep connected to his "real life" - we had to remind ourselves that there was hope and that the cancer wasn't his identity.