Dear Hugh Jackman,
Please don’t jump off of a bridge. That probably seems like a strange request, so allow me to explain.
A little over a year ago my husband underwent three brain surgeries (one planned, and two to repair complications that arose from the first). His doctors had prepared us for the worst, I mean it was actually brain surgery after all so we knew that when (or even if) he finally woke up, he may not be entirely himself. But nothing could have prepared me for the remarkable changes he underwent. When he finally woke up he was still Travis, but in his mind he had somehow become the Wolverine.
Now he wasn’t exactly articulating his thoughts very clearly, so when he talked about the metal that had been added to his system and explained that was why his nurses couldn’t draw his blood, and when he told me he didn’t need any more medications because his body was able to heal on its own, I struggled to understand what was going on. When he started showing his claws to one doctor that he was not particularly fond of every time that guy entered the room, I started to get it a little bit more but I just laughed it off as part of the healing process. I have called what he was experiencing a delusion, but to him it was incredibly real.
In the months that followed he underwent radiation and chemotherapy in an effort to kill the remaining bits of brain tumor that weren’t able to be removed during surgery. He continued to channel his inner-wolverine and became a champion for the cause of funding brain cancer research. In 2017, he raised over $25,000 for various research programs and, while still in active treatment for a grade 4 tumor, walked the full 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon course as part of the annual Jimmy Fund Walk. With such a display of superhuman strength I had to wonder if I was too quick to label his transformation as a delusion.
I am writing this open letter to you for two reasons. The first is to thank you for bringing the Wolverine to life on screen for so many years. What may seem like a silly comic book character to some, has been a literal lifesaver for my husband as he’s drawn strength from the self-healing soldier you portrayed so well. The second, as I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, is to ask you not to jump off a bridge.
You see, last fall Travis got his second primary cancer diagnosis in just a year’s time. It wasn’t quite the life-altering experience he had undergone just a year prior, but it was a cancer diagnosis nonetheless. We had ignored a spot below his eye for years until he saw a post-operative picture of you online and he said “maybe we should get that thing on my face checked out.” After a biopsy we received the news that Travis indeed had basal cell carcinoma which, as you know, is a very common and treatable form of skin cancer. He had it removed this past December, and we’re happy to at least be able to say that he’s now skin cancer free.
So back to that bridge. I fear that Travis has finally taken his emulation of you and the Wolverine too far. It’s the only rational explanation for this additional cancer diagnosis that I can come up with. How else do you explain a second primary cancer diagnosis, one that’s completely unrelated to the brain cancer he is battling, in just a year’s time? I mean, I suppose one could claim that the skin cancer might have something to do with his failure to ever wear sunscreen during a two-decades-long career working outdoors… but just in case it’s the former and not the latter, I’ll ask again, please don’t jump off a bridge because I fear Travis would follow suit.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, please let me return to thanking you. Thank you for sharing your experience with skin cancer publicly, reminding others to use preventative measures and get regular checkups from a dermatologist. And, thank you for being an inspiration to my husband during the most difficult challenges he has ever faced. Perhaps you’ll be as inspired by Travis as he has been by you and you’ll join us for some or all of the 26.2 mile course?
Registration opens soon for the 2018 Jimmy Fund Walk. Team Wolverine will be out there again, raising awareness and money for cancer research and walking along side thousands of others who will be championing causes like yours and like ours.