My review of the movie “Cake”

I thought this movie was going to be about living with chronic pain.  But I think chronic pain only plays a minor role in this film.  This is a movie about loss and grief.  And when that loss involves a young child, the grief is magnified tenfold.  It is overwhelming, almost eclipsing the physical pain.  Of course, the grief makes dealing with the chronic pain even harder.

This movie takes place only six months after her tragic loss, and initially, Jennifer Aniston’s character isn’t able to face the grief.  You can tell that she hasn’t yet learned how to mask the chronic pain in public, which is something that eventually all of us learn.  Her treatments and therapy only deal with the physical pain from her accident, but she is using drugs, alcohol, and anger to manage both types of pain.  In the end, she’s ready to face it all.

While it may be a glimpse of what chronic pain patients go through, it doesn’t even come close to reality.  I suppose part of the reason for that is this woman doesn’t have any financial problems, with the ability to pay someone to take care of her.  She rarely has to rely on herself to move through each day.  She doesn’t have to worry about finding or paying for a doctor or medications.  She has no fear of becoming homeless.  In other words, it’s a Hollywood movie that doesn’t really portray the lives of so many pain patients.

Jennifer Aniston really did a wonderful job, as did all the other characters in the movie.  In fact, her housekeeper steals quite a few scenes from the main character, as does Anna Kendrick, the woman from her chronic pain group that committed suicide.

Unfortunately, movie reviewers weren’t all that kind:

The spectacle of female suffering has produced a lot of great movies; Cake is not one of them.
Manohla Dargis, New York Times.

I’m thinking that anyone who works for the New York Times doesn’t really understand suffering. I thought this was a great movie and I highly recommend it.


PatientsLikeMe has been on a roll, inking deals with biopharma giants such as AstraZeneca ($AZN), Genentech and Biogen ($BIIB) to provide its patient-reported data for the companies’ R&D initiatives. Now the company is shifting gears, planning to work with the FDA to see how its patient reports could improve drug safety.

PatientsLikeMe draws its data from a network of 350,000 patients, collecting information in real time about issues ranging from drug tolerance and adherence to quality of life…

Pain Report

This section is a list of different treatments used for pain, with Tramadol being listed as the most frequently used.

Treatments taken by people with Chronic Pain Syndrome

This shows hydrocodone as the most frequent treatment being used.

The fibro community on PatientsLikeMe is one of the largest on the site, and it’s growing by the day – this time last year, there were about 30,000 in the community, and now, it’s more than 42,000 strong! They’re donating their data through personalized health profiles and sharing their stories in the forum to help others with fibromyalgia…

Back in March last year, we shared on the blog about a new grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that would help support two patient-led projects on our Open Research Exchange (ORE), a platform that brings patients and researchers together to develop the most effective tools for measuring disease…

Tam is living with multiple sclerosis (MS), and she’s been a PatientsLikeMe member for more than 4 years. After her diagnosis and experiences with her doctors not “getting” what pain means to her, Tam decided to create a new tool for anyone who might be experiencing chronic pain. Her idea is to build a measure that can help doctors better understand and communicate with patients about pain.

Watch her video above to learn about her journey and listen to her explain her inspiration behind the new ORE project.

In the video, Tam describes her first experience with the 1-10 rating scale for pain.  When asked about the worst pain she could imagine (that being a 10), she used being crucified as an example.  So then the doctor said that a 10 would be like having a toothache so bad you feel like you have to call the dentist and get seen that day.

Well, that wouldn’t describe my level 10 pain.  If I used that example, my pain levels would be off the chart.

There appears to be a small group of chronic pain patients using this website.  I’m not sure what the benefit would be for me, as a 30-year intractable pain patient, to join.  But it may help other pain patients, especially those who suffer from fibro.

There’s also a section to search for clinical trials, including by location: