Review

The C Word

A review of a new film on the body’s natural defenses against cancer

reviewed by Lauren Hales

Understanding the battle against cancer has, in the United States particularly, become a discussion of treatment—seldom of prevention. “The C Word,” a film directed by Meghan L. O’Hara, digs into what it means to use the body’s natural defenses against cancer. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the film showcases the twin narratives of both Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, a French physician and neuroscientist, and the director herself as they each battle their own diagnosis with cancer.

Dr. Servan-Schreiber’s journey as a brain cancer survivor led him to research and develop his groundbreaking book, Anticancer: A New Way of Life. When Megan L. O’Hara was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was filled with internal questions, asking How? Why? Is there anything I can do to heal? She discovered the Anticancer method and followed it in her own journey towards wholeness, becoming inspired to create a documentary that would challenge the power and fear that cancer holds. In “The C Word” Dr. Servan-Schreiber proposes four pillars of Anticancer: exercise, nutrition, avoiding toxins, and managing stress—the basis of his lifestyle transformation plan for those battling cancer. The cast takes these four strategies—which might seem inconsequential to some—and delves into the details of how each pillar transforms our health from the outside in. Even more important, the documentary confronts the giant medical, pharmaceutical and food systems of the US with biting commentary about their grip on the health of citizens.

Church Health features prominently in the film, as founder Dr. Scott Morris explains how the organization’s focus on preventive medicine complements the Anticancer method. Church Health’s approach to prioritizing the balance between a person’s faith life, movement, medical care, work, emotional well-being, nutrition, and community comes alongside the film’s hypothesis that it is within our power to “beat cancer before cancer beats us.” This driving message, the life force of the film, shapes its unique take on a disease that plagues our society. By giving the audience back its agency and showing just how attainable a healthier lifestyle is, “The C Word” is a touching, even lighthearted, approach to cancer that is a must-see for anyone who has experienced its aftermath or is eager to adopt preventive behaviors.

 

Host a “The C Word” Screening in Your Church

Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Preview the film so you are prepared to introduce it. As you watch, jot down thoughts that would make good discussion points.
  2. Provide healthy snacks for refreshments. Look for low-fat, low-carb options featuring fruits and vegetables.
  3. Offer free childcare to encourage a night out for the whole family.
  4. Include a post-film discussion time when audience members can share their ideas—expect a diversity of opinions!

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