Breast Cancer Awareness may not be the first thing you think of in October, but some people are too greatly affected to have that luxury.
October is known as spooky season, but for many, it's more pertinent to refer to October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The following is a direct quote from the CDC about breast cancer.
"Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States. Deaths from breast cancer have declined over time, but breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women.
Each year in the United States, about 264,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,400 in men. About 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. Black women have a higher rate of death from breast cancer than White women."
In 2012, comedian Tig Notaro was one of the thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Like most, when I think breast cancer, I think sadness, marches, and charities, but her self-titled documentary shows how Tig found the hilarity in the absurdity of her diagnosis.
Tig is known for her deadpan humor and ability to patiently wait for a joke to sink in before delivering the punchline. Before her diagnosis, her career had an upward trajectory; she had a regular show at Largo, hosted her podcast, Professor Blastoff, and was filming a movie. Then everything changed so quickly.
Her cancer diagnosis came after suffering from C.diff, her mother's death, and a breakup.
During an interview, Tig says, "Because my life fell apart so quickly, I kind of assumed I was gonna die."
In the overwhelming nature of it all, she suddenly found everything hilarious. Above everything she had already been through, she managed to get cancer too.
In an extraordinary and historical moment in comedy, Tig opened her next show with, "Hi everybody, I have cancer. How are you doing? Diagnosed with Cancer."
The bold statement caused mixed reactions, but ultimately it was a huge success. Despite no show recording, the show went viral on Twitter, and people could not stop raving about how excellent Tig was.
The documentary then follows Tig in the after. She was so convinced she would die that she did not anticipate anything after her diagnosis, but the documentary showed just that—the after.
It chronicled her stardom after her she released the show as an album. It chronicled the press she received and the life choices she made. More importantly, it showed her decision to try to have children.
Thinking about writing about breast cancer was intimidating because there's so much potential for sadness and scariness. Tig's humorous approach to her cancer completely changed that perspective. The potential for sadness and scariness is still there, but she added humor. She made the subject much less uncomfortable.
Thousands of people deal with breast cancer every year, and the recovery stories vary from person to person. The stories differ greatly depending on the circumstances and the people, but they are polarizing. The cancer either kills or "gets killed." All the stories tend to skip the after. It explains the tragedy of the diagnosis, but the after is left without recognition. Tig showed everyone how her after wasn't perfect, but it existed, and it's happening.
Watch Tig on Netflix.