That point is this: A PMA may be a nice thing to have, and I can vouch for the fact that it helps the day seem brighter.* But the operative word is seem. We should not delude ourselves about its powers. And we only set ourselves up to look foolish by trumpeting the kind of faux positivity at the core of the Redgrave ad. Because let’s face it: For all its inspirational panache, that ad has now been revealed, unmistakably, as a lie. Redgrave’s I-know-I-can-beat-this campaign will survive her as a permanent, indelible testament to a very public fraud. She died of the disease that we all knew would almost surely kill her in time, just as that incomparably perky prof, Randy Pausch—who preached in his internet-phenomenon “last lecture” that nothing is unattainable if you truly set your mind to it—could not set his mind sufficiently to beat the pancreatic lesions that took his life within months. This goes back to what we were saying a little while ago about pop culture’s need to overstate, often wildly, in the interest of being appropriately “resonant.”
So if you want to be optimistic, say something like “I plan to do everything I can to try to beat this” or “I’m going to keep hoping that they find a cure before the disease wins.” But don’t say “I refuse to die of breast cancer.” You simply don’t have that power. Not to mention what a crushing disappointment your inevitable death becomes to those who took you literally!
RIP Lynn Redgrave, and condolences to her family.