Tag Archive: cancer

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When Hollywood people die, it is always heard that they passed too young.

In the case of Cory Monteith, one of the stars of Glee that is true. The 31-year-old actor had been a star for the last four years because of the Fox TV show that featured musical song-and-dance numbers. His character, Finn, may have been a bit dim in the brain but quite the sweetheart.

Cory Monteith with Kevin McHale, Image from IMDb.com

Cory Monteith with Kevin McHale, Image from IMDb.com

The Canadian actor had started branching out into movies recently. His last role was that of a young man dealing with the aftermath of trauma and Monteith felt he could bring something dark to the role considering his past drug use. The movie is called All The Wrong Reasons and word is the film is heading to the Toronto Film Festival in September.

Monteith struggled with drug addictions for the last 15 or so years. Families who deal with that know how hard it is to watch a love one fight and not be able to help that person. There is no word yet how Monteith’s death will be dealt with on the show but I hope they give him a huge sendoff.

On Monday afternoon as I was trying to get something done, my husband announced that Dennis Farina passed away at the age of 69. Maybe you recognize Farina from his days on Law and Order, maybe you recognize him from his days on Crime Story. Farina played mob guys or cops and he did it well. The former Chicago police officer was a tough talker who was ready to throw a punch when he had to do it. But playing one sort of character can lead to typecasting for an actor and soon enough, Farina was more of a side character than the featured role.

Perhaps his most well-known part was that of Ray ‘Bones” Barboni in Get Shorty, a movie based on an Elmore Leonard novel of the same name. It was a tough role in which Farina plays a South Florida mobster looking for the Shylock he does not like who now lives in California.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

But this was not his reportedly best movie. That came nearly 20 years later when he starred in The Last Rites of Joe May. The story follows a down-on-his-luck low-level gangster who has always believed that good fortune is around the corner. When the man is diagnosed with a terminal illness, one would think he would finally feel down. That is until he believes that good fortune may once more be waiting for him.

If anything, the legacy of Dennis Farina is that you can be an ordinary guy and find your dream. He was good-looking enough and talented enough to get into a movie here and there until he wound up on a poplar TV show. Then came more movies, more TV shows, and special projects. It took a lot of work, a lot of perseverance. But if that is your dream, isn’t that what you will do to make it happen?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Listening to Pat Robertson about Alzheimer’s Disease and divorce shows to me how hard this disease can work on a family.

Robertson is given a question from the ‘chat room’ about a man whose wife has Alzheimer’s and has decided that he needs companionship. His wife is so far gone in the disease she is no longer a good companion. The friend wonders what he is to say to this man because the friend feels uncomfortable.


Robertson responds, I think, from the gut. He knows others who have gone through this situation and the loss they feel of the person they once knew. He reflects upon the fact that the person with Alzheimer’s has lost so much of the ingredients of what made them personable.


While he does not condemn the husband for seeking companionship, nor does he justifies it. Considering Robertson’s conservative views, I thought he would rail against the man for committing adultery or not living up to the wedding vows. Instead, Robertson reflects that if this is what the man is doing – seeking ‘companionship’ outside of the marital relationship while the wife is battling an illness – perhaps he should divorce his wife.


Now some might take this as a cavalier attitude. But how many of us have heard of couples breaking up because of a life-threatening illness? Wives and husbands leave because they realize they cannot do the work or deal with the stress of a serious illness.


While working on another story about a cancer-support program I learned from the clinical director that women with cancer are seven times more likely to be divorced during the treatment period than men in the treatment period. In fact, they are planning new classes on teaching families survival skills this fall to work on that issue.


The same happens to families with children who have special needs. All of these things can stress a marriage and people will walk away. I remember reading a story about a semi-famous singer whose wife told him she couldn’t do ‘this’ when he got cancer. She left as he was going through treatment.


So what about Robertson’s opinion? Was he right or wrong? Or was he being pragmatic?


Picture by Taliesin

I think the last option is where Robertson was going with his answer. He tells the interviewer that if this is where the man is going – into a new relationship despite the mental and physical condition of his living wife – perhaps he should get a divorce. But Robertson is also careful to add that he is responsible for making sure his wife is cared for, that she has the care she needs for the rest of her life.


I wonder if Robertson gives that answer because he realizes the man is no longer invested in the marriage, in the relationship. This man has determined his wife is in a place where she can no longer be a suitable companion and he can not live without companionship. Robertson admits to the sadness of what the disease takes away from a couple but sees that this man is looking for a way out.

This is what remains in the back of my mind. Who would want to be the companion or future spouse of a person willing to leave their current wife/husband during the worst that life can hand you? What if something happens to that person? Will he/she leave when the going gets rough?


If you consider past behavior as being the only dictating force, you already know the answer. But, boy, would I like to be proven wrong.

I’ll bet that if you ask any adult on the street, they will know someone who has survived  cancer, is going through cancer treatment or has died from cancer. 

This past November, cancer took my Aunt Barbara and my cousin Paul. Both left behind families and people that cared about them. My aunt was the guardian to three of her grandchildren. My cousin left behind one adult daughter and his parents. 

 So when my neighbor, Barb, asked me to be on her Relay For Life team, I said yes without a second thought. Much research has been done that has changed the way we attack cancer, treat it and help people survive. Now it is my turn to help raise funds to encourage more research, to help create programs to support families and patients dealing with a cancer diagnosis. 

 Relay For Life teams have many ways to raise funds. You might be seeing signs for garage sales and special days at Monical’s. In St. Anne there will be a special Moonlight Bowl at Dixie Lanes on May 14th. 

Colorful Bowling Balls, picture by Ronnie B


Normally, our family has pizza and watches a movie on Friday night. It is a total stay-at -home-and-veg-out night. But this time the parents can leave the kids with a babysitter and get out for a good time while raising money for a good cause. For more information you can call Mona at 815-427-8331. 

Movie Poster for Terms of Endearment, picture from IMDb.com


One True Thing, Renee Zellweger and Meryl Streep, picture from IMDb.com


While there are a variety of movies out there about brave fights with cancer, I am not writing about them today. If you want to watch Terms of Endearment, My Sister’s Keeper, Space Cowboys or One True Thing, have at it. 

 I think when you are in the middle of a battle like this, you need a movie to lift you up. You need a movie such as Die Hard starring Bruce Willis. It is hard to believe the movie is twenty-two years old but that is when we began to realize Bruce Willis was an everyman action hero. 

The man fights terrorists while barefoot. But the point is he fights them with everything he has, realizing his imperfections as a man and the desire to get his wife out of the dangerous situation. Would you be as smart and quick as 

Bruce Willis as John McClane in Die Hard, picture from IMDb.com


John McClane? I am not sure I would be but that doesn’t mean I would not try. And it is that type of spirit that I assume most people who are dealing with cancer use to battle back. 

This movie is rated R for action violence, language, brief nudity and brief drug content. I would not suggest this for the kids. A better action-adventure for the kids is Agent Cody Banks starring Frankie Muniz as the teen/secret agent saving the world. Plus it is rated PG. 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle. 

Let the world, or at least St. Anne, know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note to P.O. Box 306, St. Anne, IL 60964 or become my friend on Facebook.