Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Learning from Grey's Anatomy

I have discussed throughout this blog how most people think melanoma is not a big deal. People assume that they will have a mole removed and that will be that. I used to be one of those people too. I can't tell you how many times people have said something like "They will remove it, and you will be fine." That is not exactly how it works with advanced all.

I am quite anxious for the next season of Grey's Anatomy to begin so I was browsing online about their past seasons. I remembered that in season 5 of Grey's Anatomy, Izzie learns that she has stage IV malignant melanoma. Although I do not agree completely with the way melanoma is portrayed  in the series, there are a few parts that hit home.

Here is what happens when Izzie's mom arrives to the hospital after learning her daughter has a type of cancer:

Izzie: Um, mom, just um, just listen ok? I... I don't have breast cancer. Ok, I have skin cancer. Or, what started out as skin cancer.
Mrs Stevens: Wait, hang on. Skin cancer? Oh, God! Izabel Stevens. Oh, you scared the hell out of me. And then you made me come all the way up here to Seattle just for some ugly old mole. Oh, sweetheart." (

How many of our friends/family reacted in this way? Of course they probably showed more sympathy and concern, but some probably blew it off as no big deal, right?

And then reality hits...........

"Izzie: Mom. It's not just a mole. I have stage 4 melanoma. It's in my organs. It's not just a mole.
Mrs Stevens: You don't have skin on your organs, hun. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Don't just sigh at me Izobel. Just, you know. Just explain.
Izzie: Ok, um, you remember when Grammy had that tumor on her thyroid?
Mrs Stevens: Grammy died. She died, she... really soon after that she died. Wh... why are you t... telling me this? You have a mole. I don't understand. You, you just... you have a mole. Wh... what. Wh...
Izzie: Ok. I'm sorry. That was a really bad comparison."

Izzie tells her mom that it is a bad comparison because her mom begins to grasp the fact that her cancer is cancer, it is not just a mole that has to be removed. You can see her shock in realizing that melanoma spreads beyond the skin. It is shocking because we all assume melanoma is juuuust skin cancer, we assume it is one of the better cancers to get. Melanoma is not curable. Remember that.

One last thing. What do you say to someone who has just learned of their diagnosis?

"Izzie: You say, they have a choice. They can runaway and hide from it, or they can face it. You say they need to be around the people who love them, because it's gonna be the toughest fight of their life, and no one should have to do it alone. And then you give them the odds. And even though a 5 percent survival rate is bad, it's really bad. You say.... you say....
Lexie: Screw the odds! People die of the hiccups. My mother died of the hiccups. Survival rate for that is what... 100 percent? The odds are that she should be alive right now. The odds are... The odds are crap! So people should face it and they should fight."

That's right...

The odds are crap. 

Let's face it 

and FIGHT.


Ranisa said...

HA HA! I love that episode. Sorry to laugh I completely understand that is NOTHING to laugh was the hiccups that made me laugh. Sad thing. I saw that episode before I had melanoma and didn't even remember that was what Izzy's cancer was. CRAPPY CANCER!

Carolyn said...

I knew Izzy had melanoma. But that was years before I had it. And you are right. Most people think it's 'just" skin cancer - you cut it out and you're fine - right! Ya right. I think I would have watched the show a little differently had it been aired now. But I also remember the scenes you described very well, thinking, holy crap. And that's before I knew what we were dealing with in melanoma. Great blog,, as usual.

Kayla K said...

I love Grey's Anatomy, so I don't know how I overlooked or forgot that Izzie had Melanoma. Maybe it was so long ago... I'm not sure. My little sister is 19 and has had Melanoma for the last four and some years. She's a fighter. We just found your blog when she was visiting just before Christmas, and we love it! Keep sharing, and we'll keep visiting! :) My sister's name is Kelsey, and she just started here :

Becca said...

My sister commented on her Facebook about how she hates it that I have to fear the cancer coming back every day. One of her friends said, directly to me, "But you BEAT it! Be positive!". I tried to explain that it's just not that easy and that there is no cure, but many people won't understand it... not unless they actually KNOW someone who has it. That's why our blogs are here, to spread the word.

Unknown said...

This almost brought tears to my eyes, just like it did when I watched it the first time. Lexie telling her to fight & screw the odds was one of my all time favorite scenes.

Carol Taylor said...

Chelsea, I have to tell you, and away from FB, that my 21 year old son and I were talking this morning about my possible recurrence. In the course of our conversation, I showed him your pictures. I told him you're 24 now and these were taken when you were 23. I can't begin to tell you how impressed he is with you! According to him, "most girls" in y'alls age bracket would never post pictures of themselves like that. And I'm sure he's right. It takes a LOT to impress this child of mine and you did it with posting pictures you wish you never had to take and you're brave enough to share. Thanks for daring to care.

cancersucks said...

Keep up the strong fight and LIVESTRONG my fellow cancer survivor! I saw your comment on Jessica's blog so had to hop over and say hello. I will be thinking of you on your cancerversary.