I love 24, the TV show. Elliot and I stumbled upon it years ago when we were staying in a hotel and then we were addicted. We went back to the beginning and watched every single episode more than once. We were binge watching before we knew what that was!
And so, as I often do, I started thinking about applying the “lessons” of the show to living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and here are the results of my ruminations …
- Main characters die all the time. I think this was one of the most astonishing things about the show. New characters show up all the time and some of the ones everyone starts to like or hate die off every season. It was shocking when we were watching it the first time, now I compare that to the people who die every day of MBC, people who are necessary and important and who I grow to love. The world is poorer for their absence and yet nothing can be done in the near future to save their lives.
- As soon as one crisis is over, it’s on to the next. This idea is heightened in the fast paced hour at a time format of the show. I remember thinking, how could any one person deal with that many days of crisis, even if the days were separated by years of down time? Fast forward and I live through days of crisis all the time now, where life and death are both possible and immediate.
- The people who are good in a crisis are often not good at relationships. I think Jack Bauer is a quintessential example of someone everyone wants involved in a big crisis and yet he struggles to connect with others. An important reminder for those situations we all encounter when various friends can handle various things. Remembering to give everyone credit for their own strengths and not crucify them for their weaknesses is important. Doesn’t help with the hurt that results from the abandonment of friends.
- It is a rare person who acts in other’s best interests. At the end of the day, it’s a reliable fact that most people will act in their own best interests. And yet, there are people who are able to set aside what is best for them individually and act in the best interests of the whole. I’ve seen other patient advocates who demonstrate this day after day.
- Death happens and the world keeps moving. This is a hard one. It often feels as if the world should stop as we lose friend after friend at a rate of 116 men and women each day in the US. Yes, the world keeps moving but it is less bright and poorer for their absence.
- One day or one situation does not define an entire life. Just like a diagnosis of terminal cancer does not define my whole life. I, and the others with MBC, have lives outside of our cancer experiences and treatment. Important to remember.
- Your friends are the people who stick by you no matter what. True friends will indeed show up when you need them. It is those people who aren’t truly friends who walk when the going gets tough. The ability to tell the difference is key.
- When you are good at something, everyone knows. Competence is attractive on many levels and those who are good at something don’t usually have to advertise it.
- While I know Jack Bauer is a fictional character, I wonder how he would have dealt with a terminal cancer diagnosis? I often wonder about how others might handle this diagnosis, both real and imaginary people. Watching someone who is good at handling crisis makes me think that they might handle this kind of crisis; at the same time, an intense crisis is different from a chronic crisis.
- Why wouldn’t someone want to make a TV show about a metastatic cancer patient? We deal with more on a daily basis than most people would deal with in a life time and we often do so with a good attitude.
So there you have it, cancersplaining by Jack Bauer and the case of 24! Would you add anything specific?