F**k Cancer: Louise McSharry has cojones the size of Mexico and coolness in the face of adversity
Darragh McManus reviews the cheekily titled latest instalment in RTE Two’s Reality Bites series
F**k Cancer was the cheekily titled latest instalment in RTE Two’s Reality Bites series.
Over the last few years we’ve seen documentaries spanning light and heavy, serious and funny, playful and grim. This – oddly enough, given the subject matter – was all of the above. And that’s thanks to Louise McSharry.
Last year the 2FM presenter, then 31, found out she had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She had to more-or-less put her entire life on hold – her career, impending marriage, going out, having fun, basically enjoying life – for six months of chemotherapy and recovery.
F**k Cancer, which aired tonight, charted Louise’s journey from sickness to health. Now, that sounds a bit worthy and Oprah Winfrey-esque.
But fear not: purely on the basis of McSharry’s spiritedness, good cheer, good sense and courage, the programme was fast-paced, amusing and inspiring. You could even – and this about cancer, no less – describe the whole thing as enjoyable.
We started with Louise having her head shaved in preparation for hair-loss, cracking jokes about it (though she later admitted it was upsetting), before she she moved onto picking out wigs.
Then followed the mechanics, the sheer grind, of fighting a serious disease: chemotherapy, nausea (her anti-sickness meds didn’t work for a while), weight loss, weight gain, intermittent anxieties. On top of all this, Louise was planning her wedding to the likeable, laidback Gordon, moving house, worrying
And through it all, she remained philosophical, unflappable, cool as a breeze. Not a pose – at times she expressed fear or doubts – simply a tough bit of stuff refusing to let this malignant thing defeat her or ruin her life.
By the end, we had the happy ending that we wanted and the subject deserved: illness in remission and McSharry baking treats for the staff at the Mater, throwing a Cancer Liberation Party and reflecting on what had been a difficult, but strangely positive, experience.
Indeed she remarked at one late stage how the cancer had “almost become a friend. In the end, it wasn’t as scary or terrible as I thought it’d be. In a weird way, we went through something together!”
From a technical point-of-view, F**k Cancer was so-so. Fine as far as it went, but it looked and felt pretty much like every other documentary being made these days, although there were a few nice embellishments: tweets popping up on-screen, closing scenes of still photos from the wedding.
McSharry, though, made the film on her own. A mighty woman, with cojones the size of Mexico and coolness in the face of adversity not seen since John Wayne’s heyday. Props.