Let’s start by picturing someone with CANCER. Who do you picture in your head? Is it an old guy smoking a cigar? Is it a sick child in the hospital?
Or is it a high school student at a pep rally? I’m going to go out on a limb and say it wasn’t - but teens and young adults get cancer all the time. I was 15 years old when I was diagnosed with Leukemia.
Being a teenager or young adult is already a dramatic time in life to begin with. You’re busy trying to fit in, or trying to build a life, a career… and then you’re slapped with the big C word. When I got Cancer I felt lost and alone. It’s a feeling that stuck with me for years after by battle.
I knew I wanted to commit myself to helping people like me who had gone through Cancer at this challenging age, but I knew I wasn’t meant to be a doctor. So I followed my passion and went to film school where I honed my skills on making music videos, ad campaigns, documentaries and short films - until one day I finally found I could say the word “Cancer” from a place of empowerment.
I began filming the stories of teen and young adult cancer fighters. They tell me about their triumphs and toughest times - we invariably end up talking for hours. Leukemia. Osteosarcoma. Lymphoma. Neuroblastoma. No matter what the diagnoses were, we all have a common story arc.
It’s a powerful experience to interview, distill, and then show a person their own story. It creates so many moments of healing - and it doesn’t stop there. When I post a story, that healing reaches out to others, all the while raising awareness.
At my very first shoot, I already knew this was going to be something I could never stop doing. There are countless teens and young adult cancer fighters across this country - more of them every day. I started to think… what if I could reach them all?
I needed to hit the road.
I found a great ally in Teen Cancer America. We quickly realized our goals are the same. We need to tell the local stories of young cancer fighters across our nation - one from each of the 50 states. Eventually helping Teen Cancer America build the case for the age-targeted care that young people so desperately need across our great country.
All while I realize my dream of creating a catalog of short documentaries about my fellow Teen and Young Adult Cancer fighters.
We’re already collecting a list of people who want to participate and tell their story. With enough funding we can make this happen.
I plan to head out with a talented and passionate yet minimal crew. It's important to me to do this right - and filmmaking is not a cheap endeavor. Travel costs alone introduce an interesting hurdle when you consider moving our equipment and crew across the country and back. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be returning home with 50 profiles and a mountain of footage.
In addition to releasing these individual videos on the Teen Cancer America webpage and on YouTube, I also plan on merging these stories into a feature documentary. The film will weave together the experiences of all these brave and amazing people — but will also be the tale of my crusade as I venture out onto the open roads of America to find the stories of my fellow young Cancer Fighters.
If you can throw in a little I’d be ever grateful. And if you can’t, please get on twitter and facebook to spread the word! I’d be equally as grateful.
We need to reach out to a whole nation of Teen and Young Adult Cancer fighters who want to tell their stories. I’m going to go out there to capture them and I hope you’ll join me.