Anyone who has ever lived through the horror that is breast cancer either with themselves or with a close family member knows that hair loss is often a part of the chemotherapy "fun." On NBC's Parenthood, Kristina Braverman's breast cancer storyline has been about as true to life as possible.
That means many tears for me -- the daughter of a woman who died of the disease 19 years ago -- but it also means a breath of fresh air. Because the show tells the truth about the disease.
Unlike so many other shows (think Samantha's breast cancer story line on Sex and the City), Parenthood really looks at the beast in full. It's not a cute blip or a "very important" special episode. The pain, the humor, the sadness, and the fear are all part of Kristina's day to day life. It's the truth. And perhaps, most important of all, they have left her bald.
It's something few shows or movies have dared to do. Even those with a cancer storyline kind of throw on a wig or two and call it a day. They may have a bald scene or two, but they certainly don't LIVE in that ugliness.
This is why the show is so amazing. The reality of cancer is that, for most women, wigs are itchy, uncomfortable, and mostly for the comfort of the people who see the person in public, not so much for the patient herself.
I know my own mother wore her wig in public, but especially once she became really, really ill, the wig went by the wayside. It just wasn't worth it.
Part of what makes the show painful is its honesty. That is true about every issue it tackles, from adoption to divorce to veterans' issues and more. The show isn't afraid to look at the "ugly." But as the daughter of someone who had cancer, I love the honesty. It feels so good to see MY experience and my mom's experience so accurately represented.
Obviously I hope Kristina doesn't die like my mother did. But I respect showing the battle for what it is. She has been sick. She has been in the hospital. She has been unable to get out of bed for days on end. And she has been bald.
That's the truth. That's what's real. A show that won't hide behind a pretty wig and mask the truth is all right in my book.
With the season finale tonight, it will be interesting to see what happens. But whatever it is, I have no doubt it will be rooted in the real experiences of women who have had this awful disease.
Do you think Parenthood has dealt well with breast cancer?
Image via NBC