June 9th, 2011June 9th, 2011 at 10:58 pm by Deanna Dewberry under Deanna's Journey
Going to the movies is risky when you have cancer. Hollywood loves cancer – no joke. For a screenwriter, cancer is dying gold. If you’re writing a tearjerker, you need a long, lingering death. The characters then have time for absolution and resolution; there is anger, fear, love, forgiveness and finally acceptance all wrapped neatly with a bow by the movie’s end which comes in usually fewer than 120 minutes. When you have cancer, watching Hollywood’s version is incredibly annoying. And you never know when a screenwriter will throw in a cancer death to assure that the audience experiences that much sought- after LA-created cathartic connection, thereby allegedly enriching the movie-going experience. Annoying. Really annoying.
While I was healing from my bilateral mastectomy, my mother and I decided we needed to see a comedy. Mom suggested Tyler Perry’s latest flick. And you guessed it. The central character (a mother figure, of course) has cancer, and her long, lingering death is the catalyst that brings her extraordinarily dysfunctional family to a point of emotional healing. I thought I’d barf. And I hadn’t even had chemo that day. We were trying to escape cancer, and I had to sit through Hollywood’s less than accurate portrayal of the cancer experience. My poor mom – who had picked the movie – leaned over and apologized. I told her no worries. I blamed myself. The long-time cancer survivor knows to read plot summaries before buying your movie ticket. I should have done that.
So understandably, I was a little gun shy when my kiddo was begging me to take him to Kung Fu Panda 2. Animated four-legged Kung Fu masters don’t usually suffer long, lingering cancer deaths, but one never knows. After reading about the movie online, I thought I could sit through this sweet kid flick. But again, I was met with the unexpected.
I think God uses all kinds of tools to feed the soul. And this week, God used Kung Fu Panda 2. I’ve been stuck. It’s odd. I’m nearing the end of treatment. Finally. More than three months of chemo, a bilateral mastectomy, another two and a half months of chemo, and reconstruction. And then I’ll wait. Triple negative breast cancer is aggressive, and when it returns, it usually does so within two years. And so after I finish treatment, I can do little more than wait to see if the cancer comes back. The thought of that makes me crazy. I’m assertive. I want to do something – anything to actively fight the possibility of recurrence. But there is no targeted treatment for my type of breast cancer. And so I’ll wait. And worry. And wait. And that makes me nuts.
At one point in the movie, the overweight panda is talking to two other animal warriors who are imprisoned by an evil adversary and too afraid to come out of their jail cells. Without a hint of irony, the adorably chubby panda says earnestly, “You’re imprisoned by fear behind bars of hopelessness and are fed three square meals of shame.” Yeah, I know. It’s a kid flick. But I knew that darn bear was talking to me. When fear comes to live with you, he brings friends. Hopelessness and shame are his companions. For me, the shame comes in failing to recognize the gift of each day – allowing fear to rob me of my joy. I couldn’t help but smile at the simple truth delivered by a pudgy panda in pants.
The movie also has a sweet message about adoption. The panda goes in search of what happened to his “real” parents finally realizing in the end that the goose that raised him, fed him, and loved him was as real as any father could ever be. For this adoptive mommy, the message was beautiful. And it reminded me of a scripture I read recently. Romans 8:15 tells us “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.”
Ain’t that great stuff? As God’s adopted children, we receive from him not a spirit fear, but we are heirs to His kingdom and can call Him Father. I think about how fiercely and unconditionally I love my adopted son. Then how much greater must God’s love be for us? And if God loves me, I’m okay. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay. He’s promised us that all things work for our good – all things – even cancer.
And so it is. I am His adopted child. He’s my Dad. And that’s enough.