June 3, 2010 at 10:52 am , by Julie Bain
I was lucky enough to attend the premiere of Sex and the City 2 at Radio City in New York last week. The red carpet was lined with paparazzi and crazed fans, the stars looked glamorous and almost every scene in the film got raucous cheers from the passionate audience. I had a blast. Sure, the clothes, the locations, the action were all completely over the top. But hey, it’s been a long recession, and the movie provided pure escapism, just like Fred and Ginger did during the Great Depression. Still, one thing about the film bothered me, as it did my friend Courtney Bugler.
Courtney had just turned 29 four years ago when she heard the bad news: she had breast cancer. But she fought it hard. That included having her ovaries removed, although first she preserved some of her eggs. She suffered the symptoms of instant menopause, but later had one of her frozen embryos implanted. Now, four years later, she’s healthy and has a 1-year-old baby boy named Aidan, along with her husband Alan and four very large dogs. She has also become an advocate for young breast cancer survivors and runs the Atlanta affiliate of the Young Survival Coalition. I invited her to write a guest blog here and explain why one aspect of the movie really ticked her off.
How Samantha Let Courtney Down
By Courtney Bugler
I’m Samantha. You know, as in “what Sex and the City character are you?” If I had a nickel for every time that popped up on my Facebook wall in the past two weeks… well, I’d have about a dollar. But Samantha and I do have a lot in common. I’m a bit brash, seemingly fearless and, until I got married, had a kid and moved to the suburbs, we had some other “ahem” things in common as well. The most important thing, though, is that we are both breast cancer survivors. Sure, she might be 20 years older, but honey—I know menopause, too. As part of my breast cancer treatment, I went into menopause at age 30. The Chillow, ladies. I swear, it will change your life.
But there is one glaring difference. While Samantha seems to have skipped past her breast cancer experience into the cosmo-soaked world of “normal,” I have turned my journey into a life changer, most obvious in my career change from soap opera scriptwriter to breast cancer nonprofit director. I work every day with young women affected by the disease at the Young Survival Coalition. (That’s me, left, and with my boy Aidan, below.)
This past weekend, there I was, girl’s night out. Sex and the City 2. Dinner and cocktails followed by an estrogen-fueled viewing experience (well, except for me, since I don’t have any). It was supposed to be a break from reality—from home, kids, my sometimes-draining work, but for me, SATC2 went from fun and over the top to medically irresponsible. So instead of enjoying Samantha’s filthy mouth or her wonderful loyalty to her friends, I found myself fired up over the portrayal of her post-breast cancer experience. Or should I say, lack of portrayal.
Sure, menopause makes for some funnies. It’s a good gag. But for breast cancer survivors, it’s very real, and often way before it should be. So there’s Samantha, a cancer survivor, taking every hormone therapy you can think of. Creams, pills, pharmaceutical, bioidentical. Anything to combat the natural process of aging. Not once do they mention that as a breast cancer survivor, that kind of hormone intake is not recommended and can be dangerous. Not even Miranda, who asks why Samantha is taking medical advice from the woman who brought us the Thighmaster, mentions speaking to a doctor. Or the fact that hormones and breast cancer don’t mix. In fact, no one even mentions that Samantha’s been to this hot flash rodeo before—when she was in chemo. Nope, it’s like her breast cancer never happened.
The last thing I would want is for women who see this movie to think Samantha’s methods might be a great way to combat menopause. Hormone therapy does greatly increase your risk of breast cancer. But more important, survivors might think this is an okay thing to do when faced with menopause, especially if they are younger and it’s treatment induced.
Samantha let me down this weekend. Stick to the sex, girlfriend. Leave the survivorship to people like me.
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