Whether you are battling breast cancer or supporting a loved one who is, you’ll find courage to keep fighting from these 10 inspiring films.
Decoding Annie Parker
A “mostly” true story, Decoding Annie Parker weaves together two fates: that of unsinkable breast cancer survivor Annie Parker and that of brilliant geneticist Mary-Claire King. The acting is superb — Helen Hunt, Aaron Paul and Samantha Morton, to name a few of the film’s stars — and the story of Annie’s battle against the disease that took her mom and sister is a total tearjerker.
Terms of Endearment
This one can be filed under the category oldie but goodie. Released in 1983, Terms of Endearment depicts 30 years in the lives (and love/hate relationship) of Aurora Greenway and her daughter Emma. Terms is still a must-watch today for two big reasons: the A-list cast, including Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels, and John Lithgow; and the reminder that young women are not victimless when it comes to breast cancer.
The Family Stone
On the surface, this could be your typical film about one family’s Christmas misadventures. However, when you peel back the layers on The Family Stone, you’ll find a story about overcoming and succumbing to the odds, keeping it together when everything around you is falling apart, and — most significantly — the importance of surrounding yourself with loved ones when battling breast cancer.
A lifetime original movie, Five is actually an anthology of — you guessed it — five short films that examine the impact of breast cancer on women who’ve been diagnosed with it. The film also smartly addresses a common misconception: Men don’t get breast cancer. And the all-star ensemble cast isn’t too shabby either; Patricia Clarkson, Rosario Dawson, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Holloway, Jennifer Morrison, Kathy Najimy, Bob Newhart, Tony Shalhoub and Jeffrey Tambor act in Five, while Jennifer Aniston, Alicia Keys and Demi Moore each direct a short.
In Living Proof, Harry Connick Jr. plays Dr. Dennis Slamon — the real-life research doctor at UCLA Medical Center who helped develop the revolutionary breast cancer drug Herceptin. It took eight years, an unflappable belief in the experimental drug and an unwavering desire to help those affected by breast cancer — on the part of Slamon and the philanthropists who helped fund his research — to get the drug approved by the FDA, but it has since changed the way breast cancer treatment is approached.
Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy
At 27, Geralyn Lucas pretty much had it all — a graduate degree in journalism from prestigious Columbia University, her dream job working for 20/20 and a happy marriage. Then, as she describes in the memoir of the same name this movie is based on, her world was rocked to the core when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Starring Scrubs actress Sarah Chalke, this film tackles Geralyn’s journey fighting the disease with a mastectomy, chemotherapy and humor.
Pieces of April
You never know what you are capable of until someone you love is fighting a losing battle. You’ll move mountains or, in the case of April Burns, you’ll invite your entire family to your tenement apartment in Manhattan for what is likely your mother’s last Thanksgiving. Pieces of April proves that our personal differences mean nothing in light of breast cancer.
Mondays at Racine
Every third Monday of the month at a small salon on Long Island, New York, something special happens: Sisters Rachel and Cynthia, who own Racine Salon and Spa, open their doors to women living with cancer. Having seen their mom suffer through the indignities the disease brings women, the sisters volunteer their time and talent to pamper women facing similar struggles. Director Audie Cornish shines light on the physical and emotional scares of the women who visit Racine in this heart-wrenching documentary.
When Terry Hitchcock’s wife Sue dies of breast cancer in 1984, he struggles to fill the voids left by her absences — the loss of his wife, his partner, his friend and, most notably, the mother of their three young children. In 1996, Terry vows to run for the equivalent of 75 marathons in 75 days in honor of his wife and single parents, the unsung heroes of the breast cancer battle. His message? “Every one of us can do something.”
The Hot Flashes
While it went largely unnoticed when it hit theaters, The Hot Flashes merits a spot on our list for a few reasons. First of all, it brings attention to a very important part of the battle against breast cancer — the people who fight for those fighting the disease. The Hot Flashes is also good for some solid laughter, something that is good for mind, body and soul.