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Go behind the scenes each week with the writers of The Big C.

Sep 2, 2010

Whew. Finally someone else knows about Cathy’s cancer. SPOILER ALERT STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THIS EPISODE!  But then again, what are you doing reading this blog if you haven’t bothered to watch the episode? 

In this episode, I really wanted Cathy to take her first tentative steps towards exploring what it means to be someone with cancer and what happens—advertently or inadvertently—when you tell people. 

Cathy is alone. Very alone. And nothing says alone more than a tandem bike with only one rider. We really wanted a visual to hit home how alone Cathy is with her cancer, and we thought that bike said it all. By the way, not easy at all to ride a double bike alone, but like most things, Laura took to it with ease. She only fell on her ass once, so kudos Ms. Linney.

Full disclosure, I’ve had cancer. I know what it’s like to walk into a support group. And it is not easy. Cathy entering that room was a really big deal.  Another full disclosure: I think support groups can be terrific for people. For Cathy, not so much.  In this group she happens to encounter that certain type of over-zealous cancer sufferer who just wants to tell you what to do.  In their desire to help, some people can be very over-bearing.  Anyone who’s been sick knows this type.  They mean well, but sometimes it’s just too much.  And Cathy is a very private person, so it really isn’t for her.  So please, no nasty letters. Support groups rock. Just not this one, for Cathy.

I also really wanted to explore this “cancer is a gift” thing. Again, I think in moderation the idea that cancer allows you to look at your life and make changes is a good one. But some people take this to an extreme—cancer is not something anyone wants, believe me. And I really like gifts.  It’s okay to say sometimes, as Cathy does, “cancer sucks”. That doesn’t make you a bad person.  It can feel really good, actually.

What Cathy learns is that support sometimes comes from the least likely sources—in this case, Marlene.  Oh and that “dogs smell cancer thing”—totally real.  Before my first surgery, when all my doctors told me I had a “cyst” and had nothing to worry about?  My dog climbed onto my chest and licked and sniffed the “cyst” for half an hour.  Yeah, that cyst was cancer. And my dog is now my attending physician. P.S. when one does not have cancer, one must apply massive amounts of baby food to one’s leg to get a dog’s attention. Again, kudos to Ms. Linney.

Thanks for watching.   And C you soon. Get it? C?  Man, I should save that gold for the script.


About the Writer

JENNY BICKS started her career in advertising in New York City and went on to write radio comedy before breaking into writing for film and television.  Her series credits include “Seinfeld,” “Dawson’s Creek” and HBO’s “Sex and The City”. She wrote on the show for all six seasons, rising to the rank of executive producer. Her work on the series earned her several awards, including an Emmy® Award, multiple Golden Globes and three WGA nominations. During this time she also created and Executive Produced “Leap of Faith”, a comedy series for NBC.  After “Sex and The City”, Bicks created and executive produced “Men In Trees” which ran for two seasons on ABC.  In the feature world, her body of credits include “What a Girl Wants,” “The Nanny Diaries” and rewrites of several films including  “Never Been Kissed.”  Her short film, “Gnome”, which she wrote and directed, had it’s premiere at the Berlin Film Festival and went on to win awards at multiple festivals. Currently, she is writing “Mother Nature,” with Reese Witherspoon attached to star, as well as a remake of the 1937 classic “Stage Door.”  She recently completed a feature film musical based on the life of PT Barnum, with Hugh Jackman attached to star.   A born and bred New Yorker, Bicks divides her time between New York, Maine and Los Angeles.