We have spent the past year filming this documentary and are now on the home stretch. The funds we raise during this campaign will be used to finance the final edits to the film, including color correction, adding the score, and creating the graphics we need to tell a story that is compelling and accessible to a wide audience.
The budget for this phase is conservative and our campaign is limited to a 2 week period, so your donation is critical. We anticipate that the film will be completed by April 1, 2014. Any funds that we are able to raise above our stated goal will be used to submit the documentary to film festivals and to support screenings of the film across the country. Several community organizations, breast cancer organizations, and patient advocacy groups have already made the commitment to host a screening once the film is complete.
Our film has been profiled in articles across the country, including this very in-depth treatment of the topic: http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/basic-fact-about-breasts-could-save-your-life-and-forces-trying-keep-it-under-wraps?paging=off¤t_page=1#bookmark
Origin of Happygram
We first became interested in the topic of breast cancer screening when Hallie Leighton, one of the founding members of the Institute for Health Quality and Ethics (www.inhqe.com), was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer after years of "normal" mammograms. Hallie was later told that her breast tissue was extremely dense, which lowered the sensitivity of mammography. Studies have demonstrated that with her level of density, a mammogram would detect about 1 in 4 cancers. Every woman in Hallie's family had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and she would have sought alternative screening had this information been provided to her. http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/10/14/mammogram.not.enough/
After researching the issue surrounding Hallie's missed diagnosis we discovered that:
1. Dense tissue is simply the normal occurrence of connective and glandular tissue in the breast.
2. Dense tissue is very common: 40% of women have dense tissue which obscures more than 50% of the breast. Dense tissue is more common among younger women than older women, and tissue density generally decreases with age.
3. Dense tissue and breast cancer both appear white on a mammogram, making cancers very difficult to detect for those 40% of women with dense tissue. Mammography misses about half of all invasive cancers in women with dense breast tissue. This makes mammography about as effective as a coin toss for the millions of women with dense tissue.
4. Dense tissue is also one of the strongest risk factors associated with breast cancer, on par with having a first degree relative with breast cancer. 70% of invasive breast cancers occur in women with dense tissue. (Women who are considered at "high risk" only account for 5% of all breast cancers.)
5. There are existing and emerging alternative technologies which can better detect cancer in women with dense tissue. Ultrasound has been available for years, and newer technologies such as molecular breast imaging are or will soon be available. http://www.ted.com/talks/deborah_rhodes.html
Despite the fact that breast density is material medical information which should be provided to all women who have mammograms, organizations within the breast cancer screening "industry" have made a concerted and coordinated effort to ensure that this information is withheld, citing justifications which violate statutes and case law in all 50 states, as well the the ethical guidelines of the American Medical Association.
Hallie did not let a cancer diagnosis stop her from helping other women avoid her fate. She filed a Citizen Petition with the FDA, requesting that women be notified of their breast density in the letter they receive explaining their mammogram results (http://instituteforhealthqualityandethics.com/uploads/IHQE_Citizens_Petition.pdf). She authored a blog chronicling her efforts (www.informwomen.org). When the pace of change was too slow, she joined forces with advocates in New York to pass legislation requiring density notification in her home state.
Hallie passed away on April 30, 2013. This documentary represents a continuation of her efforts.
Through interviews with medical professionals, politicians, ethicists, and individuals who have been impacted by a late stage diagnosis of breast cancer, we provide a more accurate picture of the science and the politics behind the mammogram. Using historical footage, Congressional testimony, and news reporting over the past decades, we also explore how social, political, and economic forces have shaped this industry and enabled the widespread propagation of misinformation within the most well-funded medical cause in history.
More information is available on the website for the film at: www.happygramthemovie.com.
Your help is critical. Your support will enable us not only to complete this project, but to expand our network and educate significantly more people on this important topic. Please donate if you can, and help spread information about this effort to other people in your network. This campaign is an important step in creating publicity behind the project, but, more importantly, it's a vehicle for getting critical health information to millions of women.
Risks and challenges
We are in the final stages of completing this documentary. We are working with a full rough cut, but this final phase requires an experienced and skilled editing hand. Our editing team is dedicating 100% of their time to completing this film for us. In the event that we hit a bottleneck, we are able to rely on two experienced editors who have been providing us with advice and guidance over the course of this project.
We are also considering working with an upcoming composer to create the music for this film. If the process of composing and integrating the soundtrack becomes too cumbersome, however, our back up plan is to purchase royalty free music for the film.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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