A title caught my attention as I was looking for something to watch on tv – “I Am Dying,” was the title of a one hour time slot documentary on NatGeo. Not the typical comedy or history driven program I am usually geared towards, but I was drawn nonetheless.
The feature is all about Renee, a young woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s about her life, her passions, her accomplishments, her struggles and eventually her death. It’s about not only Renee’s experiences, but also those of her family, her friends and her caregivers.
This is a powerful journey I highly recommend you witness on your own. Cancer in our society is portrayed in many ways and by numerous definitions. There is the big pharma and western medicine view, the Hollywood movie drama, the karmic or religious standpoint, and yet unless you’ve lived through it, whether it be your own health crisis or that of someone you love, no portrayal ever really touches on all aspects of cancer. Not until this movie.
NatGeo, Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck and the film’s directors have put together a compassionate reality of what Renee experienced. This powerful film shows the life changing choices we have to make, both as stewards of our own health care, and as caregivers of our loved ones.
It’s REAL. It’s GRIPPING. It’s the closest thing I’ve seen placed on film that fully describes what day to day life is like for someone in Renee’s particular situation. You will see her daily treatments, the process she goes through as her mind and body begin to shut down, and most definitely you will witness the loving care and kindness that surround her.
I’ve had the role of caregiver for loved ones in this situation and it’s not easy. I’ve watched people I love more than anything slowly wither away because of a horrid disease called cancer.
Many people shy away from dealing with those that are sick or who have been given a diagnosis such as cancer. They go into fear, they don’t understand, and it’s easier to not deal with it than to face it. I get that. It’s not simple or comfortable to see someone dealing with chemo or side affects from a sickness. It’s not pleasant. But a small effort can make a huge difference in that person’s life.
I recommend this film to all who’ve been affected by cancer, to all who wonder what REALLY goes on in the life of a terminal cancer patient, and to all who want to make a difference.
Positive change can start with YOU. Knowledge is power. If you witness someone else’s journey then you will have greater understanding. And then the next time you see someone you know who is suffering from this disease, you can see them with compassion – you can smile at them with light, and not pity. You can look them in the eye with honor and respect, no longer afraid of their diagnosis, and with understanding within your heart.
God bless Renee Heidtman and her loving family and friends for their willingness to share this courageous journey with rest of the world. Renee will be remembered for her light, strength and beautiful spirit, not a diagnosis on a medical chart.
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