Aug 12 2007

Plucky gal parlays terminal illness into book, movie deal

Photo from TLC “The Life Lens” Documentary series.

It just shows to go ya, if you slap the word ‘sexy’ on it, you can sell anything. Even “seemingly tragic” stage 4 cancer!

[Gracias, scrappyBadger]


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  1. thebewilderness

    Bet you ten bucks she wouldn’t get a sexaay cancer book deal if she didn’t still have intact tits. Criminy, the glory of womens misery makes my eyes bleed.

  2. thebewilderness

    Oh, and perky, can’t forget the requirement for being perky in the stinking throes of the fucking cancer. My skin crawls right off my body and piles up in a heap on the floor when they start with the glorification of sufferinghood through the blessings of the cancer.

  3. Orange

    Thinking about my aunt, who died of ovarian cancer in May, this “looking for a cure, and finding a life” thing sounds likes bullshit. It’s hard to embrace life when cancer makes one’s existence continually worse, continually more painful, continually more debilitated, continually less sexy. What’s sexy about metastases, ascites, and a bowel obstruction?

    I know. I’m a downer.

  4. PhysioProf

    “sounds likes bullshit”

    Absolutely. And it sets an unattainable standard that reduces the dignity of most cancer patients, in part by making them feel like failures if they do not experience their illness with “exuberance, humor and sass”.

    In my opinion, this is related to the bullshit line that cancer patients should be “heroes” who “fight” and “battle” to “overcome” and “beat the cancer”. Assuming access to an appropriate standard of medical care, what distinguishes those who survive from those who succumb is nothing but dumb fucking luck. And how tragic is it that those who ultimately succumb are made to feel like somehow if they only were more “heroic” or could have “fought” harder, they could have “beat” their cancer?

    I suspect that these tropes are designed solely for the benefit of the healthy, as they provide an illusion of control over something that is essentially uncontrollable: “If *I* ever get cancer, I’ll fight to be one of the heroic survivors who beat their cancer, and if not, at least it’ll be a wild, inspirational journey that I will experience with exuberance, humor and sass.”

  5. Theriomorph

    What thebewilderness said. Oh, and this.

  6. Theriomorph

    Orange and PhysioProf, too. What’s making my eyes bleed – or ears, I should say, is hearing more magical thinking we-create-our-own-realities new age patriarchal positivity blaming crap hurled at women with cancer as a result of this smarmy packaged pluck.

  7. Funambulator

    Wow, I’m thinking back over the past few months, just mystified because I can’t decide what part has been the sexiest! Maybe it was the surgical drains. Wait wait, no, maybe it was when chemo made my nose hairs fall out and I couldn’t keep snot from spewing out of my nose!

    Dang, it’s all just been so fucking hot, I really can’t decide.

  8. wiggles

    It’s crazy and sexy because it’s girl cancer and crazy and sexy are the defining characteristics of femaleness.

  9. jokerine

    My eyebrows want to climb up over my hairline, it’s really hard to keep them where they belong. Yes, well, my mother made a new life after breast cancer. At immense personal cost to herself and her family. They were changes that had to happen and were only catalysed by cancer. And there was absofuckinglutely nothing sexy about her in the hospital or when she got sick after chemo, or how she grew all haggard. This movie/book/thing is just stupid.

  10. Helen

    Besides the fact that “sassy” is such a nauseating cutesy-wutesy neologism, I already have perfectly good role models: Twisty, Grannyvibes, Cancerbaby. And my friend Anne.

    There are no better.

  11. arlene

    I lost my mother in law-who I adored- to cancer two years ago and for the life of me I cannot remember one sexy moment during her pain and her discomfort and her fight to live. I say bollocks to this.

  12. Miranda

    Mom fought every step of the way against her damned cancer, and the rest of us were with her. There was nothing fucking SEXY about it, or uplifting, or meaningful. It was painful and messy and heartbreaking.

  13. Cass


  14. delphyne

    “Sexy” cancer?

    That’s it, I’m off to look for another planet.

  15. Mamasquab

    Lotta wishful thinking going on there. God forbid I should get in the way of any cancer patient’s way of coping with her illness, but I gotta say I think this cancer patient is getting in the way of other people’s ability to cope. And Wiggles is spot on. IBTP.

  16. high-strung oddball

    For a second I thought “crazy sexy cancer” meant it would be some kind of scintillating expose of a woman-hating self-help culture’s dark side. “Cancer” metaphorically instead of literally. I wish, I wish, I wish that were what it was.

    It’s like they don’t even want you to think of cancer as a disease.

    Anyone else notice she’s pretty much standing in a crucifixion pose?

  17. high-strung oddball

    I hate to comment twice in a row, but “Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips?” So you can emulate her joyous experiences with cancer? What the hell?

    Even if we accept the premise that terminal illness is totally upbeat and empowerful and cool… how can she stand being some sort of cancer guru? What will she say to the families of people who die?

    I guess her agent’ll deal with them.

  18. Cass

    “What will she say to the families of people who die?”

    I’m sure she’d be too tactful to say anything. Clearly, though, women who die from breast cancer just don’t have enough sass.

  19. BadKitty

    A 34 yr old friend from my breast cancer support group was just diagnosed with a recurrence – she’s now Stage 4. I wonder what she finds sexiest? The baldness? The exhaustion? The migraines? The vomiting? Maybe it’s the knowledge that she’ll be leaving two very young daughters without a mom?

    The last time we spoke, she was sobbing at the thought of her husband eventually remarrying and another women kissing her girls goodnight.

    Yea, that shit is hot.

  20. Twisty

    “Wow” I said as I underwent my first sentinel node biopsy, which involved eight separate injections of radioactive dye, without anaesthesia, into my nipple, “the world is my oyster now!”

  21. Genevieve

    My grandmother’s going through radiation treatments for breast cancer now, and she had colon cancer when I was six. She still looks and acts like the person I have known forever, but when she talks about the exhaustion she deals with as a result of her treatments five times a week, I can tell there’s nothing sassy or sexy about it–she’s just trying to get through the disease and live. Maybe this woman thinks she’s being uplifting–but there’s nothing sexy about a disease trying to destroy your body.

  22. slythwolf

    My mom’s friend found a new life as a result of her breast cancer, too. It started when her husband ran off with his secretary because he didn’t want to fuck a woman who was missing a tit.

  23. Jodie

    I couldn’t even hack it as a cancer nurse, much less if I had cancer.

  24. Otter

    Seems to me that this phenomenon is just a jacked up, new millenium version of the “spunky crip” narrative (as my friends who live with physical disabilities call it). We see it all the time in the media, because a person with a disability (or cancer or HIV or ) is never just a person with a life and struggles and victories — no… it’s always the “inspirational” stories of those who have overcome their disabilities / conditions and who are cute/perky/capable/exceptional/etc. despite it all.

    Which of course means there’s something wrong with those who aren’t/don’t.

    This one, of course, has the added gratuitous layer of “sexy”- which, I must point out, would never be used if referring to men’s experiences of cancer. No. Those are serious and shouldn’t be joked about.

    IBTP, of course.

  25. BadKitty

    This whole line of crap that’s being sold to women about breast cancer being “gift” and that we should be grateful for the life-changing opportunity is such a load of bullshit I could vomit. “Oh, you girls! Breast cancer’s not so bad!”

    The whole thing sounds to me like the same line of crap they used to try to hand us about rape: If it’s inevitable, just lay back and enjoy it! It’s far cheaper and easier to convince us nice, compliant wimmen folk to embrace breast cancer as an “opportunity for growth” than seek to out causes or questioning environmental factors and all the chemicals we inhale and swallow every day.

    Anyone try to tell Tony Snow that he should be grateful for the tumor growing inside his asshole? Didn’t think so.

  26. pisaquari

    “Crazy sexy” and not a bit of Pink!* on that poster. Clearly, someone from markting didn’t get the memo*.

    *Pink!:empowerfulled hue for boobiesboobiesboobiesboobies
    *memo: Top Secret Gov’t .Doc file claiming D00des need to be flashed for proof this “cancer stuff” exists

  27. Toonces

    Fucking stabitty-stabitty hell.

    Sexy is what I’m sure my cousin’s wife felt as she wasted away to 55 lbs as breast cancer ate her alive before she died at the age of 33. I’m sure my cousin felt really turned on, too, looking at all teh hawt. For most, I would assume, cancer is not simply a pesky, character- building challenge that comes with an inspiring musical montage and groovy wardrobe of kicky wool hats. Fuck this all to fucking hell.

  28. funambulator

    [i]“Wow” I said as I underwent my first sentinel node biopsy, which involved eight separate injections of radioactive dye, without anaesthesia, into my nipple, “the world is my oyster now!”[/i]

    Oh Twisty, how could I have forgotten the smokin’ hotness that was sentinel node biopsy prep! My god, the way they didn’t put any numbing cream on there first?! I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

    Hey, if I had any tits left I’d totally get ’em chopped off again next time I was feeling frumpy.

  29. Orange

    Wait! We forgot the sexy part of cancer treatment. My mom’s best friend was “lucky” in that her breast cancer was detected in an early stage, removable by surgery, with follow-up chemo and radiation to help prevent recurrence. The chemo knocked out every hair follicle, leaving her with “a cunt as smooth as a baby’s” (her wording).

    What could be sexier and sassier than a chemotherapeutic Brazilian?

  30. Twisty

    “The chemo knocked out every hair follicle, leaving her with “a cunt as smooth as a baby’s” (her wording).”

    Too bad she won’t be needing any more chemo. Because those pubes are all gonna grow right back.

  31. stacey

    ewww “looking for a cure”
    that’s not sexy…

  32. Nancy

    I was so hoping that this was a prank, but no such luck. According to the link above, “From the light-filled side of stage 4 cancer, to the thoughts and motivations of 14-year-old white supremacists, TLC Life Lens reveals the extraordinary lives of everyday people.” Ooh! Extraordinary!! And here my life as a cancer “survivor” with lymphedema, neuropathy, fatigue, scars, etc. etc. to show for it is just so…ordinary. In spite of the fact that I didn’t need fucking cancer to “find” myself! Dammit, how I detest those who say their lives were transformed for the better because of cancer!

  33. TinyTyrant

    This is so disturbing to me. When my mother had radiation, and her skin turned sallow, it was not sexy. When she barely had enough energy to get out of bed, it was not crazy (in the spring break sense). It was sad, and tragic. Cancer is not fun, it’s not inspirational, and you don’t find god (where, in the toilet?). I am sick of a culture that commodifes everything, and definitely every female body (cancerous or not).

  34. Orange

    Not to worry, Twisty–I reckon she was (or will be) pleased when the hair grew (or grows) back.

  35. anarkallisti

    Oh, the valourisation of women’s suffering, specially customized by the patriarchy to make women believe that their oppression is what makes them noble. To call a woman a “survivor” is a high compliment, but come to think of it, I’ve never heard a man referred to as such.

  36. Paris

    I really really thought that the photo was a collage commentary created by a certain gentleman farmer. That would have been rather funny.

    I am very sad to discover I was wrong.

  37. Crystal

    Now, I have no experience with cancer, but I do have experience with “crazy”, and I can definitely say that it is by no means any of the things that I believe to be associated with “sexy.” It always confuses me that the two are often partnered up.

  38. Spinning Liz

    The day my so-called “lover” told me he thought my cancer had made me “more beautiful and sexy than ever” because a.) all my pubic hair had fallen out (and there wasn’t even any stubble!); and b.) I lost 20 pounds (from 114 to a scary and dangerous 94 lbs); and c.) it made me “so vulnerable and dependent” (bleagh); well, that was the day he sealed his fate as my eternally permanent EX “lover.” Not that he ever actually wanted to touch me again anyway, after I’d been “contaminated” with cancer and chemo.

  39. slownews

    Oh no. Oh god. what you all said. Beautiful. I think commodification hits it right on the head, TinyT, because you know, all women are good for is sexual relations with het males, and if we’re no good for that, i.e. vomiting and in pain, then we don’t have any value whatsoever. Especially for the tv movies.

    Spinning Liz, bloody hell.

  40. Penny

    Like Paris, I thought Twisty was photoshopping shenanigans and I actually laughed out loud. Now I feel angry and crappy and sorry y’all with cancer have to see this shit.

  41. Bird

    Well, I found out on Sunday that my grandmother has just been diagnosed with cancer that has metastasized to 5 or 6 sites (we’re waiting for some biopsies). No word on where it started.

    The news has put my mother, who is in a hospice dying from her brain tumour, into a downward spin that will likely mean an end to her (so far) five-year trip through the hell that is cancer treatment, complete with brain surgery performed while she was awake. Yes, you did read that right.

    The row of staple scars and the screws in her skull are now permanently visible because the radiation killed her hair follicles. She is somehow both emaciated and swollen with edema. She is permanently catheterized and must be “toileted” by the hospice staff. She drools sometimes because she has lost so much motor control.

    Sure is sexy.

  42. nyx

    It’s when you start reading more and more stories like this http://www.msnbc.msn.con/id/20201807
    that you realize what it’s all about. Blame the survovor. Yes, in the neo-con kristianity kult when all the options in the worls drain your saving, your body and possibly your life– fingers can be waved at you that you weren’t a true believer, better insurance wouldn’t have saved you.
    I mean look at this woman crazy sexy ready to die for hey!zues cancer glorifiacation. And I bet she still finds time for anal sex with her loving husband too!

    So remember don’t blame the disease and you really don’t need better beni’s, it’s all about crazy, sexy, cool!

  43. dr.sue

    This seems to me to be related to the admonishments by Nice Guys that women should just stand up to our oppressive bosses/abusive boyfriends/street or Internet harassers. Because the problem isn’t out there, it’s in us, in our weakness and fear and inability to a)reason our way through a double-bind, and b)push back effectively. That effectively lets the patriarchy (here, in the form of a supposedly benign and competent medical care system) off the hook.

    We are all going to die, and it’s not modern medicine’s fault that there’s no way around that. But our corporatized medical culture markets itself as omniscient and omnipotent, when too often what they really do is bluff their way through a series of painful interventions that women are made to feel guilty for declining–and when they don’t work, it’s because the woman wasn’t smart or strong or spunky enough to make them work. Blech.

    Having said that, there really is evidence that focused meditation and guided imagery can have some effect, in some cases, on some tumors and blood issues. I have worked with this and the nice thing is that nearly everyone who tries them ends up feeling better, even if there are no measurable physical benefits–and sometimes there are. But it’s a huge leap to go from that to saying that if you get worse it’s because your attitude wasn’t positive enough. We don’t understand why some methods work for some people and not others. I can tell you, though, that it has nothing to do with perkiness.

  44. kiki

    At least it is acknowledged that women get cancer. My sister’s partner had a heart attack a couple of weeks ago and it took the docs forever to diagnose, you know, cause women don’t have heart attacks.

  45. Twisty

    “At least it is acknowledged that women get cancer”

    Women only get breast cancer. Many more women die of lung cancer, even so.

  46. Nancy

    Now there’s a Crazy! Sexy! blog:

    “Here’s the deal, cancer is a just a silly metaphor, like it or not, it’s in each of our lives in some way. For me it’s tumors for you it may be a bad job, your weight or a dead end relationship etc, etc. It’s spooky but it doesn’t have to be taboo. It’s just life, so we have to wake up to it! Some skeptics have asked “what’s so sexy about cancer lady?” My response: the women who have it! We are crazy, sexy, whole, loving, surviving, delicious women, so get out of our way! Granted, it’s not always easy to be positive but more often it’s a pain in the butt to be blue.”

    I think I’m having a nausea flashback…anyone seen my compazine?

  47. laurie

    I am sexy DESPITE cancer not because of it. Cancer is not some kind of self-improvement program and I get pissed beyond words when I hear or read, “Cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me,” or even, “everything happens for a reason.”
    I have a very good life and I will fight to keep on living but cancer is a horror and it’s treatment is degrading and devastating.

  48. Lily

    Has anyone watched the movie, read the book. Got your titties all in a twist that you can’t even research deeper before spouting off. Really, you want to be taken seriously, look at both sides instead of steaming off before you know what you are talking about.

    We all have had, have, or have people that are striken with a dis-ease, and it sucks, we know that. Why try to take someone down who is doing her own way, since the doctors told her she had no options and to basically just “wait.”

    Good that someone didn’t let the disease take them over completely, and tried, that’s all, tried. We’re not glorifying the disease, just the will, live, or die, to go on.

  49. Ann

    Dear Twisty,

    I stumbled across this awful Crazy Sexy business at my local bookshop the other day, wretched, and then immediately wondered: OH MAN, I WONDER WHAT TWISTY WOULD SAY ABOUT THIS! So I searched the title at your site and was SO pleased to find your post and the attending string of comments. I feel much better now.

    Seriously, though. What a pile of shit and garbage.



  50. Ines

    Agree to all. I hate to repeat already said ideas, but I do have a question here: did she find herself sexy while she was on this crazy, sexy journey? (everything nowadays is supposed to be a journey to self-love and a progress in a better path and an illuminating experience). Did she see herself sexy, as in OH God I’d fuck myself if I wasn’t myself ALREADY, LOL when she was (I’m taking examples from all you posters here)vomiting/losing all her hair/having needles injected into her nipples/having her breasts cut off or any other life-changing (damn right), illuminating, cheery, positive (yeah, because being blue JUST BECAUSE of cancer, you know, this minor illness, is such a pain in the ass so please try harder and smile your face off)?
    Thanks to everyone here. My grandmother, victim of the patriarchy, got cancer because she was taking DIET PILLS. diet pills, people. And my other grandmother had her left breast cut off. Now, dear Writerlet Who’s Still Alive and Has Both Tits, how’s that for a Crazy Sexy Experience?

  51. Cathy Koch

    Crazy, sexy cancer? Who the hell had that? Yeah, it’s crazy, crazy sick, crazy expensive, crazy sickening, crazy debilitating, driving you crazy! This lady, yes, does have to wait and see – but what is sexy about that? She had a huge support group, obviously very good insurance, both her parents, her siblings, many friends, and money. She could afford the best, and she got the very best. What about those of us who are alone, on SSDI and get a small disability check every month? You get NO breaks because you have cancer, you still have to pay all the bills, very few breaks there! My so called family totally deserted me after I left the hospital, I’ve never heard another thing from my mother, brother or sister. As a matter of fact my mother told my sister to tell me she “wishes me all the best”, some maternal instinct huh? I wanted nothing from them, maybe just a phone call every now and then, I got NOTHING! I went thru six months of IP chemo by myself, I had a few meals brought in, someone came to clean once, and one friend did 2 loads of laundry for me. Otherwise I did it all by myself. Anytime I asked for help I was told that I get too much from SSDI and didn’t qualify for anything so tough shit you worked for 33 years and made good money – apparently it would have been better for me to have a bunch of kids, suck off the welfare system THEN i;d have gotten all the help I wanted. Can’t get the drugs I need since I’m on Medicare – they’re NOT necessary or approved (the antinausea meds that really worked were a mere $1700.00 a month, now that’s sexy, oh I mean CRAZY). Give me a break and wake up and smell the coffee, if you’ve got money and good insurance you’ve got it made, otherwise you’ll probably have to declare bankruptcy to get out from under all these bills (who knew chemo was so expensive). If god forbid I should have to go through this again I’ll think twice because I can’t afford it – nothing sexy about that huh ladies?! Just sad . . .

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