Chasing Life, ABC Family’s new soap opera drama premiered last night. (Did you watch?) The show stars Italia Ricci as April, a 24-year-old aspiring journalist who just as her life was starting to fall into place discovers that she has cancer.

I have, just, so many things to say. Let’s start with the show’s poster:

Is she seriously sitting on a coffin filled with lemons? What is that? Is she supposed to turn them into cancer-kicking lemonade or something? Seriously!? Is noone else outraged by this?

Chasing Life undoubtedly resonates with many viewers, and I can empathize. If done properly, cancer as a storyline on a major television network can provide important education and awareness, and since the show has partnered with StupidCancer.org, a non-profit supporting young adults with cancer, the characters have a real shot at authenticity. The risk is if ABC Family gets it wrong, and the network’s litany of failed attempts at tackling the “tough issues” (like childhood obesity in Huge or teenage pregnancy in The Secret Life of the American Teenager — both cancelled) doesn’t exactly bode confidence that they’ll get this one right.

Ricci said in an interview recently: “It’s a show about a girl with hopes and dreams. It’s a show about a girl who’s confused about what she wants in relationships. It’s a show about a single mother with two daughters. It’s a show that’s about so much more than just a girl with cancer.”

The second her character is slapped with a diagnosis though how can the show be about anything but a girl with cancer? That’s not to say twenty-somethings affected by cancer in real life are defined solely by their illness, but if the show is “so much more” as Ricci claims it’s publicity department doesn’t seem to mind exploiting the girl-with-cancer motif to generate buzz (and judging by last night’s live-tweeting frenzy they felt no shame in trivializing a serious situation with vapid requests to “RT if you agree #cancersucks!”).

So what is Chasing Life’s message exactly?

Although the show seems well-intentioned — chronicling one young woman’s journey through life after diagnosis — I worry it will spew false information, that it will perpetuate the romanticism of the cancer patient with a can-do attitude, the misguided notion that all you have to do to survive cancer is NEVER GIVE UP. What does that say about those who die from cancer? They didn’t try hard enough?

For the millions of cancer survivors, patients, and caregivers tuning in, the show will certainly revolve around how relatable April’s story is to their own. It’s bad enough April is Hollywood standard pretty and thin, but now she’s handling cancer better too? Cancer is complicated, but, so far, the show treats cancer as nothing but a sub-plot easily swept aside in favor of April’s budding career and her hot new love life all the while remaining a pillar for her outrageously stereotypical family.

If Chasing Life means to bring awareness to the fact that young people get cancer too, I just hope StupidCancer’s involvement will lead to real discussions about the unique challenges young adults with cancer face, otherwise the show is in danger of becoming a cancersploitation fluff piece.

Did you tune in last night? How do you feel about making cancer into entertainment? Do you think the show accurately portrays the reality for many young adults with cancer? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Week 1 of marathon training DONE, and I couldn’t be more confident about the weeks to come (only 158 days till the Richmond Marathon). Seriously, I didn’t know what to expect after having taken such a long break from running then jumping straight into a training plan without even easing into it, but you guys. It’s been FANTASTIC! A fellow runner even complimented me on my pace. WHAT!? THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.

It looks like I’m power walking. I’m not.

I hope you are rocking the socks off your training! What are you excited about this week?

PUSHING ON! IT’S MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY!

Last week I shared on Still Easier Than Chemo’s Facebook page an article about a girl who left her family a secret message they found after she’d died of cancer. Athena Orchard’s words were still with me during yesterday’s long run, so I thought I’d share them with you again here:

“Happiness depends on ourselves. Maybe it’s not about the happy ending, maybe it’s about the story. The purpose of life is a life of purpose. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.”

Read the rest of her message here.

Our number one goal should be this: to be content and satisfied with our life. What anyone else thinks doesn’t matter. Because life is too short. Those who have been affected by cancer know this truth intimately.

Still, it’s not easy. We all have a million-and-one things going on at any given moment; it’s natural to get hung up in the day-to-day. For me, running is a way to quiet my mind, to reflect and refocus, and that is why I’m challenging myself (and you!) to carry Athena’s words with me:

Find happiness. Love and be loved. Embrace the journey. Take risks. Don’t take shit. Be extraordinary.

Run the marathon.

HAPPY NATIONAL RUNNING DAY! YAY!

What the heck is national running day? It’s the one day a year us runners totally geek out over how awesome running is. (Just kidding, that’s everyday.)

Today I am running with my favorite local running store: Point 2 Running Company. (A short run; my calves are still screaming from yesterday. Man, I’m out of running shape.) If you’re in the area you should totally come out, because free hats!

There are ALL KINDS of happenings going on today in the community and online in celebration of running – I can’t even. So let me share my favorite thing: pledging your miles in support of a cause you really care about. It’s so easy. Here’s what you do:

1. Download the free Charity Miles app to your iPhone or Android.

2. Choose the charity you want to support.

3. Select walk or run, and start moving! Every mile logged produces a donation toward your selected charity.

More info here.

I promise to do some charity miles for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of Still Easier Than Chemo’s own Sarah Pierce, Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor and half marathon crusher. Who’s with me!?

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