‘Parenthood’ and Cancer

I love parenthood.  And I love ‘Parenthood,’ the NBC slice of privileged Northern California life drama.  I never miss an episode.  Really.  And when I see a new episode pop up on Hulu, well, I know just what Imma curl up with as soon as the boy is asleep.  Every episode makes me cry.  Every damn episode.  I love it.  Capital “L” Love it.

I pine for the closeness of the four siblings.  Four kids each crazy different in qualities and temperment attached to four spouses/significant others also equally different in qualities and temperment, but impossibly, making all those relationships work.  And the parents?  Love those two, too.  I can’t quite get a read on the Mom Camille, but the Dad?  Zeek?  Bam.  Great character, great acting.

I have no idea how they make it work without familial bloodshed.  Really.

This season, its fourth, is like crack for me because so many of the story lines mirror my own life:  Adoption?  Check.  Stepping away from employment to focus on family?  Check.  Cancer?  Check and check.  Sadly.

It is commonly understood amongst the cancer circles I find myself in that it is hard to portray cancer and living in Cancerville accurately.  My Sister’s Keeper?  I hated it.  Really, really hated it.  50/50?  Better and so full of potential, but missed so many marks.  I am both hoping and dreading the inevitable sale of the film rights to “The Fault in Our Stars,” a newish and wildly popular YA book that is next on my list of books to read, but is getting tremendous press.

This season, Kristina Braverman (great and intentional surname, no doubt) is diagnosed with breast cancer that has metasticized in her lymph nodes.  Not great.  Especially not great for Kristina, who is a fairly high-strung, though incredibly loving, mom.  Ugh.  I feel for her.  I do.  And, yes, as a sometimes high-strung, though incredibly loving, mom myself, yeah, I relate.

Hats off to the writers, man.  They are nailing it.  Capital “N” Nailing it.  The nuances of Cancerville, though the Braverman family has just moved in, are spot on.  I see the fear in their eyes.  The complete lack of control you have within the medical system, as you become just a cog in the cancer wheel industry.  The almost unbearable beauty of life that you become aware of that at times feels oppressive as you have to recognize and appreciate all of it.

The sacred moment when you watch the poison that you hope/pray will heal you snakes its way through yards of plastic tubing.  The quiet in the room at that moment, despite whatever noise may be present.  The helplessness of the person you love most staring at you, close in inches, but miles apart in so many other ways.  The awkwardness of needing help and feeling immense gratitude when that help presents itself, but it is paired with equally immense annoyance that you can’t find the damn jar of peanut butter.

I watch every week and I am dumbfounded at the writers’ precision, the actors’ gifts in bringing Cancerville to life.  Seeing that reality so deftly portrayed on screen is bringing truth to life.  And there is comfort seeing your truth on a screen, whatever that screen may be.

Parenthood Cast

Cast of NBC drama ‘Parenthood’ — aren’t they all just impossibly beautiful?

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