Thursday, March 6, 2008

Headlines can be bad for your health ...

A friend called me last night – “Did you hear about Patrick Swayze?” – I waited for the punch line; he was found with a hooker who turned out to be a man, he got drunk and cursed out the police while ranting about leprechauns, he’s been exposed as Lindsay Lohan’s real father …the mind reels at the nonsense the “press” can come up with.

“I feel so awful and today started out as a good day” my friend tells me. “He has cancer, same cancer as me and he’s going to die in weeks”. I was stunned. Not by the news as much as by the sound of total defeat in her voice.

“Wait, wait – where did you hear this?” I ask. “Oh, you know, when I sign on to AOL, those news headlines”. “Oh sweetie, those aren’t news headlines, they’re just grabbers to make you click on the story so you can see more ads” – “AOL leads the pack in pimping up their front page”. I felt better when she laughed at this. “Let me check into this crap and I’ll call you right back – I promise”

Of course initially all I could find was the very same garbage that had upset my friend. Amazing how you have to really work to find truth, official statements, actual news – you have to shovel through piles of reactionary, inflammatory mud to get to facts.

I called my friend back and read her the statement from Patrick’s publicist:

" WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5TH: (Los Angeles): “Actor Patrick Swayze has been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. Patrick’s physician Dr. George Fisher states, “Patrick has a very limited amount of disease and he appears to be responding well to treatment thus far. All of the reports stating the timeframe of his prognosis and his physical side effects are absolutely untrue. We are considerably more optimistic.” Patrick is continuing his normal schedule during this time, which includes working on upcoming projects. The outpouring of support and concern he has already received from the public is deeply appreciated by Patrick and his family.”

“Feel better?” I asked. “Much better”, she laughed – “I don’t know what happened; I was feeling so hopeful, you know – the last tests were good – and then I see this headline that says pancreatic cancer patients die within weeks, now I feel silly”.

I assured her that there was nothing silly about her reaction at all. She is fighting the battle of her life and every nerve ending is on alert and her frightened, tired mind is hyper sensitive – I reminded her that e-mail and were her favorite Internet spots and that AOL was simply a way to get there. Believe nothing you read!

We talked about Patrick Swayze for a bit – “He’s 55 you know, younger than me” – I told her she was ageless (and she really is) – she swims, plays tennis, wears a size 6 (bitch!) and has the complexion of a beauty queen.

We decided “Dirty Dancing” was our favorite Patrick movie – shocking I know, hardly anyone has heard of that movie. We laughed over our attraction to bad boys with hearts of gold, the fantasy of being the sweet girl who, through understanding and naïve sexiness, tames the bad boy and makes him hers. “… and with a great soundtrack” she giggled. I asked her if she had seen “Road House” yet – it is my second favorite Patrick movie; sexy love scene on a roof, lots of Patrick skin, and one of the best lines ever – at the close of business at the rough and tumble road house where Patrick is the new bouncer in town the owner proclaims – “it was a good night, nobody died!”. We used to say that after board meetings back when I worked for the Evil Empire Corporation.

She still hasn’t seen it! What am I going to do with this woman! “I’m buying it for you tomorrow” I tell her. “Does he do his walkiness in it?” she asks. “Oh yes he does!” I laugh. We have often discussed how Patrick walks like he’s dancing, he has this graceful rise to his step, even when playing tough guys – it’s very endearing.

“I hope he’s going to be OK” she whispers. “He will be” I whisper back, “it’s all going to be OK”. I tell her that I’m coming by tomorrow – with Brooklyn bagels and Road House.

Shame on AOL and all the other media whores! No wait, not whores – whores are honorable compared to these vultures – they usually hurt no one but themselves. Pimps – media pimps – licking their pig like chops over the suffering of others and counting how many ads they can place in between their lies.

Be well Patrick – hope you know there are many, many people who found your official statement and left sincere caring messages at your fan site.

Be well my dear friend – I’m so glad you called; I’m so pleased that I know better than to believe anything on a headline. I can picture you worrying yourself sicker and I’m relieved that you returned to feeling hopeful and believing only in what your body and your doctors tell you.


Mahala said...

I often wonder how drastically the media's inflation of the facts actually affects our society. It's sickening.

kenju said...

They exaggerate everything - or they minimize it. We never know what's real, do we?

Jay said...

When I first saw that "he has five weeks to live" story I was pretty skeptical. We don't know how far the disease has progressed or who late they caught it or any of that for sure, but it was obvious that initial story was being exaggerated.

Leighann said...

It's sad to say, but society thrives off of shock and awe. The media is more than happy to feed into that, regardless of the consequences.

Raven said...

Lovely piece. There really is something cruel and sadistic in our media (and our society's) relationship to celebrity.

I'm so glad your friend called you - and that you are such a wise good friend to her.

I think she and Partrick are both going to live a lot longer - and enjoy themselves doing so. Maybe they can meet and celebrate their mutual victory over both cancer and the vile media whores who would bury them while they are still breathing, just to make a buck.

Well written by a wise woman and the kind of friend we all need.

Jay Simser said...

I was taken in also by the story, I have always liked Patrick and was upset.
I think the term for the media that you want is "crepe hangars" - they were the people who would go around to houses and hang black crepe bows and ribbons on the doors when there had been a death. Then it got to be used for those who enjoyed spreading bad news.
I know we have a free press but I wish there was some way to hold them more accountable. Thanks for all you do. j

Sparkling Red said...

We do have to be careful who we believe. I read about a study that indicated that if a doctor gives someone with a serious illness X weeks to live, a lot of them will obediently die in X weeks. If you don't give a time limit, people will live a lot longer. We can take in negative messages so that they become self-fulfilling prophecies, or we can reject them and choose our own way.

Dianne said...

I think it affects a lot mahala, and you're right - it is sickening.

kenju - we all have to do our homework about anything important.

I never even saw the original story jay til my friend called, I try not to pay much mind to all of that. it just leapt off the screen at her and caused a real emotional reaction.

you're right about that leighann! sad isn't it.

thanks so much raven :)
I'm going to tell my friend about your suggestion that she and Patrick celebrate their survival together, she'll love that!

Dianne said...

My grandmother used to call the gossips in the park crepe hangers Jay S, I love that term. and yes - the media needs to be more accountable. wish more consumers would just stop buying and reading this garbage. thanks Jay :)

sparkling red - "We can take in negative messages so that they become self-fulfilling prophecies, or we can reject them and choose our own way." - that is what I was trying to convey to my friend (and to myself) - what a perfect way to put it - thanks.

SnoopMurph said...

Many hugs to your friend and I hope you two do watch Road House, eating those NYC bagels (I am jealous-love them!) and spending quality friendship time-which always needed-sick or not. I admire her courage and I can imagine how disheartening it is to read inaccurate reports when they are so closely linked to you.

I loved Dirty Dancing-wished I could be in Jennifer Grey's shoes. I loved Ghost too. You never know how strong you can be and people with cancer have made tremendous steps and they show us how to do what some think cannot be done.

Casdok said...

Love the title of your post!!

Akelamalu said...

What do you mean nobody's heard of Dirty Dancing? It's my favourite film of all time!!

So glad you were able to allay your friend's fears.

Dianne said...

thanks for all the good wishes snoopmurph. we have plans to watch Road House and eat those bagels on Sunday, we're doing Sunday brunch. I love, love, love Dirty Dancing - I could never picture me as "Baby" though - Lord I would've given poor Patrick a hernia LOL

thanks casdok :)

It's in my top 10 akelamalu :)
I was so pleased that I could make her feel better.

Kind Claudia said...

Pancreatic cancer is so awful, often you're lucky if it's a short time. really. But his docs are optimistic so.... :)

Hey there's an award waiting for you at :)

Jo said...

You're a good friend, very endearing to read about you comforting a friend who's facing such a battle. Best wishes to her!

I looove Dirty Dancing, I've watched it so many times. Patrick Swayze's mom had her dance studio in the same city I grew up in during my teens, we had a few sessions there for choreographed numbers for school...not only is he an amazing dancer & nice guy, but he's sweet on his momma :)

Smalltown RN said...

I must admit when I saw the headlines I was shocked....and generally pancreatic cancers prognosis is poor...but of course they don't tell you the good for you for finding more out and for putting your friends mind at ease..

Dianne said...

claudia, smalltown rn - so far my friend has exceeded the rather dismal expectations of her doctors. she responds beyond the best they hope for at every turn and her outlook is so upbeat that at times she thinks she's fooling herself, that's why we all became so concerned when she reacted so strongly to the Patrick Swayze headlines - for a bit she felt they were there to bring her back to reality.

jo- thanks! endearing is not something I consider myself very often so that made me smile. I've seen DD so many times I can do most of the dialog, not the dances unfortunately! I've always gotten the impression Patrick is a lovely guy, devoted to Mom and to his wife of 33 years - which is forever and a day in Hollywood years, hell in anywhere years!

Minnesotablue said...

Best wishes to your friend and bless you for being there for her.
I also loved dirty dancing. Don't know who I liked best, Travolta or him

Dianne said...

thank you minnesotablue
I have a special attachment to Travolta - Saturday Night Fever was shot all around my Brooklyn neighborhood. Saw him several times - he was so sweet. My son's nursery school class used the same studio for their dance class and they all got to meet him, he was lovely to every single child. I'll never forget my son coming home screaming "I met Vinny Barbarino!!"

Chuck said...

Hi there - fun blog you have here. You wandered onto my site, but I'm just dy'n to know how you found me :? *scratching my head* I did a bunch of memes today and you said you thought maybe it was deJa Vu or maybe you had really visited b4. Anyhoo, just curious.

I'll visit again. You do the same. I think you're a hoot!

Dianne said...

hey there chuck, I love being called a hoot so thanks!
tonight I found you thru Claudia's latest Everyday Kindness post but once I got there I was sure I'd been there before LOL

I've bookmarked you this time so that won't happen again. I will definitely visit again.

tt said...

I ADORE Patrck Swayze!1 Dirty Dancing is one of my all time favorites! Fact..I love all his movies. Roadhouse? Hunkman there!!Yummy,yummy!!
It's so awful that your friend had to have that experience because of the stupid news hounds. You're a great friend to her. I could read it in your words. It warms my heart to hear stories of women supporting each other. It's as it should be.

Skittles said...

It's not just AOL. I first heard the news on CNN and they made it sound like he was on his last rumba, too.

Michael Manning said...

This is my first time hearing of this. Patrick has an amazing career going and a lovely wife. I wish him success with this turn of events!

Loretta said...

I love his movies to, don't forget to buy "Ghost" for her. It's a beautiful love story. I wish your friend many years yet. In this life nothing is set in stone.


Dianne said...

Oh Yes tt - Hunkman in Road House!! I could watch the scene with the Dr. over and over and over LOL
thank you tt for such kind words

CNN was one of the last news networks I gave up on skittles - was a time you could count on them, now they're just part of the pack.

I wish him the same Michael

thank you loretta - all of her friends remain hopeful - she has 2 copies of Ghost!

CG said...

There is a paper in the UK so depressing it's like suicide in tabloid form. I hope Patrick has many more years ahead of him; and your friend too!!

Dianne said...

"suicide in tabloid form". CG - you have the best turn of a phrase. I used to try and count which one of your photos was my favorite, now I've got to start listing your one-liners!
A friend in London is always telling me that your rags are so much worse than the ones here in the states.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

The media sensationalizes everything which wouldn't be so bad if people didn't believe them as that can lead to self-fulfilling prophesies.

Patrick was trained as a dancer, you know. His mom was a dance teacher so he probably began to dance while he was learning to walk.

I am sending all my good thoughts to your friend and to a well-loved actor who feels like an old friend, too.

Dianne said...

I agree about self-fufilling prophecy hearts...
and thank you for your good thought, they mean a lot.

♥♥♥ A- Licious ♥♥♥ said...


YOU Rock Mama! What a awesome-fantastical friend you ARE!

And I LOVE LOVE Patrick - he is my Dirty Dancing Roadhouse Fool....YUMMY - YAY! ;-)

One of my dance teachers back when I was a senior in HS took dance lessons WITH PS and his mother was the dance teacher (PS's mother)

i thought that was so totally COOL!


and please give your friend a BIG BIG squooooshy hug from me too!
SHE ROCKS as well..... ;o)


in da hizzzzouse xoxoxox


♥♥♥ A- Licious ♥♥♥ said...

PS - i just LOVE LOVE LOVE your blogs!!! :o)

Dianne said...

thanks a-licious!!
I'm so glad you're feeling better yourself and came out for a visit :)

Paul said...

My mother loved Patrick Swayze and I like him too. I pray that he recovers. :-)

Paul said...

My mother loved Patrick Swayze and I like him too. I pray that he recovers. :-)

Dianne said...

thanks for stopping by paul - I join in your prayers for Patrick's recovery.