When facing a battle with mysterious enemy- cancer, one needs all the encouragement, compassion, courage to face the enemy and win the battle. Throughout the history of the film making, many directors attempted to shed light on this killing machine. They have used different movie genres to cover it, but the message remains the same, one must find an inner strength and will to take claim his or her life. Let us look at top 10 most influential movies about cancer.
1. “Farrah’s Story”
It is a 2009 documentary filmed by actress Farrah Fawcett and her friend Alana Stewart about Fawcett’s 2.5-year-old battle with anal cancer. It is a deeply personal reflection of a terminally ill actress, who decided to dedicate the remaining of her life to educate people about the cancer, and how little research has been done on this killing machine. It tells a story about faith, courage, hope and positive thinking, as well as love, compassion and commitment.
2. “The Terry Fox Story”
It is 1983-film biopic of Canadian amputee and athlete Terry Fox. The movie tells a story of a courageous man, who became a cancer activist after being diagnosed with cancer himself, and losing a right leg at the age of 18, Fox decided to run from coast to coast with one prosthetic leg to collect money for cancer research. His marathon “Run for Hope” had a goal of raising a dollar from every Canadian citizen. Unfortunately he was not able to complete his marathon, due to cancer metastasized to his lungs. However, his heroic act raised awareness of the public and media to the cancer issue.
3. “Crazy Sexy Cancer”
It is a 2007 documentary film created by actress/photographer Kris Carr. It covers her battle of a young woman with epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE), a kind of vascular cancer in the lining of the blood vessels in the liver and lungs. The kind of cancer so rare, that only 0.01 percent of the cancer population has it. Only weeks upon learning her diagnosis, Carr turned her life’s tragedy into an inspiring documentary of her fight for life, making it a courageous story about survival.
It is a 1998 comedy-drama, directed by Chris Columbus. It tells a story of a broken marriage, two children struggling to make sense of their dad’s new lover, their impending marriage and a fight of a mother for her children’s love, her devo-tion, love, maternal instinct and her lost battle with cancer. The ultimate message is a sacrifice of the whole family in the face of the terminal illness and a new family begging.
5. “Sweet November”
It is a 2001 remake of a romantic drama, directed by Pat O’Connor. It tells a story of two complete strangers; Nelson and Sarah, whose paths cross, when Nelson unintentionally makes Sarah fail her driving test. As they get to know each other better, Nelson moved in with Sarah only to become her man of the month, “November”. During that month, they teach each other a lot about themselves, and fall deeply in love. The love story ends when Sarah tells Nelson that she is terminally ill, and is dying from cancer. She asks him to leave because she does not want him to face the challenges of taking care of the ill person and she wants to stay forever young and healthy in his memory. The story ends on indefinite note, with them parting in a park, however it is more than a story about two people in love; it is a story of unconditional devotion.
6. “A Walk to Remember”
It is a 2002 romance film, based on 1999 novel written by Ni-cholas Spark, and directed by Adam Shankman. The storyline follows an unlikely match, Landon Rollins Carter – rebellious teenager, who is facing expulsion for bad his behavior, and Jamie Elizabeth Sullivan- old-fashioned daughter of a pastor. The pair falls in love while participating in high school drama club. Despite their difference, the couple forms a strong bond, teaching Landon about love, devotion and respect. Upon admitting his feelings for Jamie, Landon learns that she has terminal leukemia and has stopped responding to treatments. In efforts to make, her wishes come true he asks his estranged father for help, who agrees to pay for medical home care for Jamie. He also names a star after and at last marries her in the same church Jamie’s mother got married. Shortly after Jamie passes away, but her memory motivates Landon to become a better person, finish school and go to medical college. The romantic side of the movie softens the underlying tragedy of a young girl dying. However, despite losing the fight for her life, she manages to inspire another person to live a life to the fullest.
7. “My Sister’s Keeper”
A 2009 film adaptation for the novel of the same name, written by Jodi Picoult , directed by Nick Cassavetes. The movie tells a story of Ann, conceived with the help of in vitro fertilization, only to be a genetic match for her older sister Kate, who suffers from acute promyelocytic leukemia. From the day Ann was born, she was servings as a donor to her sick sister, missing her childhood fun and opportunities. When Kate goes into renal failure, Ann feels pressured by her parents to donate one of her kidneys to Kate, who needs it to survive. In attempt to regain control of her life and body, Ann goes on to sue her parents for medical emancipation. The story takes a new twist after Ann wins her trial, but gets into a terrible car accident leaving her brain-dead, and the lawyer who has been representing her makes a decision to donate her kidney to Kate. The movie ends on a high note, the family coming together, the father of the girls finally beats alcoholism, rebellious brother becoming a police officer, now cancer free Kate, who will forever owe her life to her life’s keeper- Ann.
8. “The Doctor”
It is a 1991 movie, directed by Randa Haines. The movie is about a successful doctor, surgeon, wealthy and well liked man with many friends, who one day gets shocking news that he has a throat cancer. This event forces him to reexamine his life, as well as experience life as a patient, detachment and lack of compassion from the medical staff. This experience changes his life on a personal as well as professional level. Upon becoming cancer free he comes back to work in the hospital only to change the concept of treating his patience with compassion and understanding of what they are going through. He makes his interns experience a 72 hours mandatory life as a patient.
9. “My Life Without Me”
It is a 2003 movie directed by Isabel Coixet covering a life of a struggling 23 year old mother, with 2 young daughters and unemployed husband, who works nights as a janitor in a university that she can never afford, nor does she have inspirations to. She lives in a tiny trailer in her mother’s backyard, thinks of her jailed father whom she has not seen for ten years and considers herself a failure. Her life changes when she learns that she has a terminal endometrial cancer and has only 2 months to live. In efforts to live, her life to the fullest during those months she chooses not to tell anyone, and pretend that she has anemia. She then makes a list of the things she would like to accomplish before dying. Her strange journey brings her feeling of control over her life, joyful moments and ability to examine her life from the outside.
10. “Life as a House”
It is a 2001 movie, directed by Irwin Winkler. It tells a story of a man, who tries to mend his broken heart and relationships with his estranged family after being diagnosed with cancer. George Monroe, a fabricator that refuses to use modern day technology. He gets fired and later suffers from a fall, upon which he learns that he is terminally ill As his final project he decides to rebuild a house with his rebellious son, and estranged ex-wife. The project turns into a connecting expe-rience for all people involved in it, they discover new meanings and truth about each other and the past. Upon George’s death, his son donates the house to the woman who was injured by his grandfather.