‘Britney was the perfect name for my brain tumor,’ says the creator of a new BBC comedy show about cancer.
When Charly Clive was diagnosed with a brain tumor, she and her best friend Ellen Robertson turned to humour for comfort – and went on to create a stage and television show as a result.
Charly Clive appeared to be in a good mood.
She’d gone back to Oxfordshire for ten days over Christmas in January 2016.
Ellen Robertson, Charly’s childhood best friend, had effectively moved into Charly’s family home after returning from her new life in New York, in order to maximize their time together and watch as many episodes of Neighbours and MTV’s Catfish as possible.
Charly was full of anecdotes to tell Ellen, whom she’d left at home with her parents, Bobby and Janet, as she walked back from breakfast at her grandmother’s.
However, as soon as she arrived, she sensed something was wrong.
In the kitchen, everyone was standing.
Charly’s phone had no signal, so they tried calling her.
Her physician had called to inform her that a brain tumor had been discovered.
Charly’s mother had advised her to book an NHS GP appointment during her visit rather than navigating the US health system after a year of no periods and slightly unusual peripheral vision.
The doctor suggested an MRI scan as a precaution, but Charly and Ellen were unconcerned; the scan was simply an excuse to get a lift to Oxford and go shopping.
So the news that Charly had a large pituitary adenoma, a golf-ball-sized tumor behind her left eye (that they would name Britney) just shy of her 23rd birthday was not what anyone had expected.
They had no idea how the best friends would turn it into a comedic lifeline, though the tumor’s name was a good start.
“We didn’t want to say brain tumor over and over again.”
It’s a downer.
“We knew it needed a name,” Ellen says.
“It seemed like the ideal name.
Britney Spears is sassy, exciting, and a fantastic dancer.
That was the limit of what I believed my mind was capable of.
“There was something ridiculous about it,” Charly says.
“And there’s something amusing about calling my brother or grandma and having them inquire about Britney.”
Everyone could get behind talking about it and asking open questions about it.”
Charly had to cancel her flight back to the United States.
The story behind a new BBC comedy show about cancer, “Britney was the perfect name for my brain tumor.”