Primetime Brain Tumor Television: Enough!

Before I begin, some housekeeping.

a) There are what may be considered MAJOR spoilers below for recent season finale episodes of Bones, Eli Stone, Grey’s Anatomy, House, Medium and The Unusuals; read at your own risk if you are behind on your favorite shows. 

b) I have absolutely nothing against the writers of these shows and episodes. This is a personal perspective and emotional response.

Like many people, I absorb and watch television to escape reality. It is not that I want or need to remove myself from my own life for a few hours at a time; I simply enjoy the ride and appreciate the effort that is put into providing that journey for us.

We just finished watching the season finale of Medium. And it made me angry. Not directly at this series and not because it ended in a cliffhanger. I am generally disgruntled with the number of shows that chose to end their seasons with lead characters who have brain tumors.

I’m sure it’s mere coincidence that so many shows traveled down this particular road. And obviously the circumstances are varying in each. But I am frustrated by how unoriginal and commonplace the concept has become.

Why do I care so much about fictional illness?

Because my good friend and co-worker Jackie was diagnosed with a brain tumor a year ago this month. She endured a very successful operation that removed almost all of it, and returned to work six months later. Jackie’s spirit and strength are an inspiration, but as she reminds us…it’s still there. That someone so kind and beautiful and damn funny has brain cancer at 30 years old…makes me question both fate and faith.

So no, I do not like seeing so many people on television living under similar circumstances. Jackie has always been a huge Grey’s fan, and chooses to continue watching the show despite our advice otherwise. Those of you familiar with the series are keenly aware that not only is one of the main characters a brain surgeon, but one of the other main characters was just diagnosed with and apparently died from a brain tumor at the end of the season.

Perhaps I am noticing a pattern more right now because I am sensitive to this particular affliction; other instances of it have occurred on many shows over the years. The brain tumors of Mark Greene (ER) and Nate Fisher (Six Feet Under) certainly come to mind in retrospect. But it is frustrating and odd that Booth (Bones), Izzie (Grey’s), Alison (Medium) and Eric (The Unusuals) all developed brain tumors during this same television time period. 

By the way, I am very aware that neither Greg House nor Eli Stone had brain tumors; they were cursed with vivid hallucinations due to a mental breakdown and brain aneurysm, respectively. But their behavior and symptoms alone were similar enough to warrant inclusion here. To be honest, I am also crossing my fingers that Olivia’s hallucinations on Fringe are not the result of a tumor.

My point is that when art really imitates life, disbelief is no longer joyfully suspended.

I’m telling you right now that when Lost ends next season, if it turns out to have been one huge hallucination from the mind of a character who has a brain tumor…I will need to be locked in a padded room for a while. Of all the possible scenarios for my favorite series to end, I am unable to fathom one in which the passengers of Flight 815 have shared this vision together as patients in the same hospital or mental institution. No.

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The Great Grow-Out 08: Month 3 Update

There are times when I stray from pop culture and touch upon the more personal side. This will be one of those entries.

It’s been some time since I posted an update documenting the growth of my hair for my friend Jackie, and for Locks of Love. As requested, here is the current look:

From faux hawk to Wolverine to floppy awkward to…pre-Beatles/Dorothy Hamill in just under three months? Awesome. But I’m not complaining; I’m honored to grow my hair out for Jackie after she donated her own.

Tomorrow she embarks upon another very challenging journey as she begins treatment for what remains of Turk the Jerk (the tumor). Thoughts, prayers, virtual hugs and every other form of well wishes are directed Jackie’s way.

If any of you are interested in making a donation toward the cure for brain cancer (and all other types), please consider Stand Up To Cancer, an organization which she supports.

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The Great Grow-Out 08: 1 Month Update

Mere weeks ago I had a faux hawk, followed by some serious Wolverine action. Now a little over a month after embarking up the Great Grow-Out, I give you Flat and Feathered.

Apparently my hair is going through puberty; awkward growth spurts and an identity crisis.  Regardless, the girly girls at my office are having a field day with style and accessory tips, not to mention that I’ve received numerous offers for extreme makeovers. Um, thanks? Oh, and FYI, headbands are NOT for me. Not at this stage anyway. Yikes.

Recently, Jackie hosted a Head Shaving party to share the experience as she had her long hair cut and donated to Locks of Love. Every single man at that gathering (including her brothers-in-law and nephews, plus all of our co-workers and a few boyfriends/husbands) shaved their heads in solidarity; it was unbelievably touching and fantastic. So it is my pleasure to grow mine out for her, and the least I can do.

I heart Jackie, and she is making an amazing recovery from major surgery this week. Turk the Jerk (her brain tumor) is history.

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Great Grow-Out 08, Week 2: Wolverine!

So apparently this year’s Halloween costume has already been selected for me, based on my hair alone.

Because as you can see below, in my Week 2 self-portrait of the Great Grow-Out 08, I am blessed with fast and furious follicles.

The thing is, growth will have progressed far beyond Wolverine style, come October.  And I am certain that my sideburns are incapable of transforming into mutton chops. And truly, no one needs to see me in an entirely leather ensemble.

Phew. This is going to be a long process, but it’s worth every inch toward the 10 required for Locks of Love.

Because I heart Jackie.

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Hair Brained: The Great Grow-Out 08

Here’s the thing.

I have short hair (think k.d. lang). It is thick and sassy, and I have been sporting a faux hawk with mild success.

But here’s the thing.

My good friend Jackie was just diagnosed with a brain tumor. And she has to shave her long, luxurious locks soon. So while spending time with her this afternoon at a bbq, we joked about switching hair. And then I said I would grow mine out because she has to cut hers off.  Sounds only fair, right? Yeah, so that’s happening.

As of tonight, Hair Brained: The Great Grow-Out 08 begins. It won’t be pretty, quite literally. But it’s the least I can do for her. Because she is one of my favorite people on the planet. And because it’s too personal to write about. And because it’s more productive than crying. And because it’s not f’ing fair. And because I love her.

Given that I share just about everything else on this site, it’s only natural that I would share the progress with you as well. So here is the first in what will be a very entertaining line of silly photos of my hair.

Day 1

I heart Jackie.

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