Have you tuned into the new ABC Series, "Chasing Life"? We asked two young adult cancer survivors to weigh in on the way the main character has navigated the cancer journey so far. Read more.
The new series "Chasing Life" on ABC Family has piqued the interest of the cancer community over the past couple of weeks. The show stars Italia Ricci as April, a 24-year-old aspiring journalist who is diagnosed with Leukemia, just as her life starts to fall into place.
All of the young adult cancer survivors, fighters and supporters who are tuning will undoubtedly compare their journey with April's, every step of the way. The show has the opportunity to educate millions on the reality of young adult cancer, and cancer in general. However, it also runs the risk of perpetuating the myths that surround a cancer diagnosis.
In its first two episodes, "Chasing Life" has focused on April's experience learning she has cancer and desperately trying to hold on to the life she built for herself before she was diagnosed - her career, her new boyfriend and her complicated family life.
Two young adult cancer survivors weigh in on the way she has navigated the cancer journey so far.
Rose: 27, Stage 4 Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma Survivor
Upon learning she has cancer, April seems to be grasping for control. Rather than confronting the terrifying possibility of her death, she focuses on the short term.
When she talks about delaying treatment for editorial deadlines or hiding her disease from her hot new beau, my first instinct is to grab this character by her fictitious shoulders and shout "Just let go!" Those of us who have been through treatment know that cancer permeates every aspect of your life. Like April's bleeding nose seeping into her cocktail, cancer creeps into your work, friendships and family. It can't be filtered out. It can't be pushed aside.
But I don't mind April's process, because it brings to light why young adult cancer is so unique. Those who are diagnosed in their 20's or 30's are not as established as older adults, but we also don't have the same parental care system as children do. We're just learning to take care of ourselves. Like April, I had spent years working diligently to build the life I wanted - and that did not include cancer. All of us struggle, in varying ways, to handle this dramatic disruption.
Nick: 21, Stage 1 Testicular Cancer Survivor
What are your thoughts on the series so far? What should ABC Family have done differently?
Connect with Nick
When I began to see how April handled the news of her diagnosis, I started to have doubts. She seems to refuse to believe she has cancer and only tells her best friend, claiming she can't tell her family because they would not be able to handle the news right now. That is understandable, but when it comes down to it, April is going to need her family by her side. She needs to take charge. I was put off by her actions to hide her cancer and not begin to take it head on right from the moment she was diagnosed. She keeps putting off appointments and tests with her Uncle George, a top oncologist who has offered his help.
She also spends her time worrying about work before her cancer diagnosis. She has yet to come to the realization that health comes first. I experienced the same feelings about just wanting to go back to college and not have to worry about anything cancer related, but I knew that they were un-realistic desires. I had to miss the spring semester of my freshman year due to recovery from treatment and I knew I was behind the rest of my classmates so I made it a goal to still graduate in May of 2015. I wasn't going to let cancer hold me back. The second I was declared cancer free and fully recovered I jumped right back into the flow of things at school. I took extra classes each semester and also a summer class to ensure I would accomplish my goal of graduating with my friends.
You can't put cancer on hold and tell it, "now is not a good time can you please try again later." No, when cancer presents itself you have to be the aggressor and take initiative. Only bad can come from waiting. I just hope April is able to understand this before it becomes too late. For now, I am left speculating the future of April and the show until next Tuesday at 9/8c.