As I mentioned in my first blog about The Big C, I’ve been amazed by the unwavering ability of Cathy, played by Laurie Linney, to keep up appearances—I do not know of anyone who is so positively positive, kind to others, and able to maintain a continuous smile under the best circumstances, let alone while dying of stage 4 melanoma.
Season 1 left me hanging, as Cathy, lying in a hospital bed was about to begin the process of receiving a series of toxic and frightening treatments that offered little promise of treating her fatal form of cancer. Yet, as I mentioned, she was all sweetness and smiles, not at all the kind of demeanor I imagine I would exhibit under her circumstances—I would be bitchy, pissed, and terrified shitless. Minor irritations like a skin rash drive me nuts.
So, here I am almost finished with the second season, and Cathy has not missed a beat. In fact, she has even opted to participate in a clinical trial, where she can’t wait for the side effects to appear as a sign that the poison assaulting her body is also killing her melanoma—loss of fingernails and hair, extreme nausea, burns on her body, just to name a few. And of course, when her nails do start to fall out, she is all smiles, a fount of pure optimism—maybe the treatment (poison) is working–YIPPEE! Now, if my fingernails were falling out, I’d be fucking freaking—I’m attached to my body parts, however small or seemingly insignificant they may seem compared to fatal forms of cancer.
I think her husband, Paul, played by the adorable Oliver Platt, must have caught Cathy’s propensity toward optimism and perpetual glee, or perhaps he was just born easy-going. He certainly takes getting fired from his job just when the medical bills are rolling in and he is forced to deal with the infamously callous American health care system with grace.
So, another season of The Big C leaves me certain I have no aptitude for grace under pressure when it comes to serious illnesses. Cathy is like the “Super Woman of Cancer,” who is always thinking of others even when her nails are falling out, her head feels it’s been in a vice, her ass is sore from shots, or she’s just been blasted by a cancer fighting cocktail. She even takes a job as swim coach at the high school where she’s taught school while going through her clinical trial and tribulations.
The woman is raising the bar, but is she really someone who any real person dealing with the issues of cancer or any serious illness can relate to?