Saturday, October 1, 2011

Hill Harper: Renaissance Man and Thyroid Cancer Survivor

Hill Harper, Renaissance man!

Now if there weren't enough reasons to love Hill Harper, I have now become an even more committed fan. There is a lot to love about Hill Harper. He is an African-American Harvard Law School alumnus, he has a Harvard Master's degree in Public Administration, he looks GOOD, he is a Hollywood actor and best-selling author, star of CSI:NY, he is smart, he has an honorary doctorate (Dr. Hill Harper), and did I mention that he looks GOOD?

I learned about Hill Harper's thyroid cancer when my sister sent me this article. I feel connected to Hill from the first time I saw in the film Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones, which I saw at an audience tested-screening of this first full-length African-Canadian romantic comedy. (This film meant a lot to me since I founded and ran ICED IN BLACK: Canadian Black Experiences on Film, a festival dedicated to showcasing films by and about Black Canadians. The director and producer of "Love, Sex, and Eating the Bones" are a husband and wife team, David "Sudz" Sutherland and Jennifer Honess". I had showcased two of their other films My Father's Hands and Speakers for the Dead at my festival. I have met the couple a few times and they are totally 'down to earth'. I am very inspired their work. Check out their amazing award-winning work here at Hungry Eyes Film Food.)

The other reason why I feel connected to Hill Harper is because he got diagnosed during the filming of For Colored Girls. Interestingly enough in November 2011, the week that I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer this movie had just entered the theatres. Based on the play For Colored Girls who Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Not Enuf by Ntzoke Shange, I knew that this film would be quite heavy and serious in nature. I was not prepared to watch it, although prior to diagnose I highly anticipated the film. I did decide to rent it and watch it during my Radioactive Isolation (RAI). However, I changed my mind because I could not deal with the heavy matter especially while I was alone and in isolation for four days. (I have decided to watch For Colored Girls at some point when I am ready.)

During the film shoot, Hill Harper was in Atlanta when he awoke one morning and could not swallow. As a result, he called a doctor and immediately sought medical attention (smart!!!). He had 16 needle injections in his thyroid gland for the fine needle biopsy (FNA)! Yikes! (But in the United States, unlike Canada and in my experience, anasthetics are administered for the FNA.) This was a pretty terrifying experience I can imagine. Cancer has run in Hill's family-- his father, his uncle, his grandfather all died from cancer. In fact, his father had the same thyroid cancer as Hill at approximately the same age.

Hill Harper talks about his Thyroid Cancer diagnosis and treatment
In this clip, Hill Harper is discussing his diagnosis at a launch for his book the The Wealth Cure at Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe in Harlem. This is one of my favourite spots in Harlem and I always visit it whenever I'm in town (and buy books). I was there just a few weeks before this book launch.

While going through treatment which included a total thyroidectomy (TT), Hill was writing a book about finances. This book is called The Wealth Cure. Interestingly enough, he found correlations between his cancer experience and finances. (No surprise there! Thyroid cancer patients and survivors have the second highest rate of bankruptcy than other cancer survivors.) Hill creatively learned from his cancer experiences and applied them to his writing. He was able to draw parallels: diagnose, treat, comply, maintain, thrive... and apply to "wealth cure" and getting out of debt. I like that he has given some seemingly practical tools (ones that I understand well) to apply to tackling financial issues.

In the link below, Hill Harper speaks more about this book.

Interview with Hill Harper

I hope one day to interview Hill Harper. There are so many questions that I wish to ask him about his thyroid cancer journey. I also appreciate that he has taken this experience and turned it into something positive and shared it. Great work, Hill!

No comments: