Coping with Serious Illness

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Release date: 1980
Directed by: David A. Tapper
Written by: David A. Tapper
Produced by: David A. Tapper
Running time: 180 minutes

Meryl Streep hosts six episodes of this Time-Life video series which focuses on the experiences of journalist Joan Robinson and her battle with ovarian cancer. Each episode deals with an issue of her ordeal, from relationships and stress with her husband Eric, to finances and dealing with pain, the doctor/patient relationship, sexuality, and, eventually, facing death. "Coping with Serious Illness" is based on the documentary "Joan Robinson: One Woman's Story".

Episode: Relationships and Stress (24:48 minutes)
One part of a series of six programs which looks at the major problems faced by Joan Robinson, who is dying of cancer. This episode shows ways of handling the changing relationships with family, friends and medical personnel. Experts talk to the viewer about how serious illness can materially change relationships and how people can cope with the emotions and strains that inevitably follow diagnosis of a serious illness.

Episode: Finances (33:15 minutes)
Examines ways of coping with the financial aspects of being seriously ill. Insurance experts talk about the range of insurance coverage available and the best way to decide what is right for individual families. A consumer advocate discusses patients’ rights, and a lawyer specializing in estate planning, wills, and finances discusses how and when to draw up a will and how to manage money.

Episode: Pain (26:08 minutes)
Documentary footage of the last years of cancer patient Joan Robinson shows approaches to coping with both pain and the fear of pain.

Doctors and Patients (29:57 minutes)
A documentary about the last years of Joan Robinson, a woman who was dying of cancer. Examines the on-going relationship among Joan and her doctor and other medical personnel. Shows the problems in dealing with doctors and the criteria for choosing a doctor. Clergymen and nurses also discuss their special bonds with patients.

Episode: Sexuality (27:57 minutes)
Deals with the difficult issue of sexuality and the need for loving at critical times as well as during times of little stress. Doctors and other experts discuss ways of showing and receiving physical expressions of love while coping with illness and what it achieves for the partners who share.

Episode: Facing Death (30:20 minutes)
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