We are currently producing the Pink & Blue documentary to educate and inform people about the BRCA mutation and male breast cancer. Pink & Blue takes a profound look into the BRCA world. Renowned doctors examine what it is and how this mutation puts both women and men at a higher risk of developing numerous cancers.
After Angelina Jolie's op-ed piece in the New York Times about testing positive for BRCA1 and her choice to have a double prophylactic mastectomy, press and people alike were muddying up the real facts.
This media storm splintered the introduction of the BRCA gene to the world. Instead of reporting the real story, the rumor mill started churning out stories that Jolie was at the Pink Lotus merely for a breast augmentation, and was using BRCA as a coverup.
This sensationalized fiction created what became known as the "Angelina Effect." Instead of interpreting what others say, this film defines the real information people should have been given to learn more about choices and the BRCA gene. There will be no questions as to what the BRCA mutation entails after visiting the Pink Lotus Breast Center.
Breast cancer is not just a female disease. Male breast cancer patients endure some of the most ridiculous and uncomfortable situations. Why do men with breast cancer have to feel shame and embarrassment based on societal ‘norms?’ It is tough enough being diagnosed with male breast cancer in such a pink world. Any emotional layers outside of the treatment add undue anxiety, stress and fear.
Most organizations in the breast cancer realm have the word 'women' on the paperwork. Why can’t this change? Why can’t the questionnaires for new oncology patients have both? Do men really have to answer questions about their menstrual cycle and dryness? Why is there only a diagram of a female breast on these basic forms? Why do male oncology patients have to wear pink or white robes with a ribbon on them? Why can’t doctor’s offices have blue robes for their male patients?
Pink & Blue will not only educate people about male breast cancer, but it will spotlight key elements that caregivers can change for men to get the help they need, without shame and embarrassment.
Male breast cancer is at the stage where female breast cancer education and awareness was 30 years ago. Basic physiology says the treatments need to differ. This documentary is not about one color or the other. It is meant to make the pink more pink, and the blue, more blue.
I promised my sister Sammy, my aunt Carol, my family and myself that I would put a project together dealing with cancer. I knew BRCA and male breast cancer was the story that needed to be told.
PINK- The color pink is considered mostly feminine in modern Western countries, and is the color chosen to represent everything breast cancer. The pink ribbon represents hope for the future, and the charitable goodness of people and businesses who publicly support the breast cancer movement. It is intended to evoke solidarity with women who have survived breast cancer and those who currently have breast cancer.
While specifically representing breast cancer awareness, the pink ribbon is also a symbol of good will toward women in general. Buying, wearing, displaying, or sponsoring pink ribbons signals that the person or business cares about women. The pink ribbon is a marketing brand for businesses that allows them to promote themselves and identify themselves as being socially aware. Compared to other women’s issues, promoting breast cancer awareness is politically safe.
BLUE- The color blue is considered gender neutral with no solid association to any sort of organization. Why not? Why is there no real support or awareness for a blue ribbon? The blue ribbon represents hope for the future, and the charitable goodness of people and businesses who publicly support the male breast cancer movement. It is intended to evoke solidarity with MEN who have had, and currently do have breast cancer.
Most donations for various causes are just sent in, and you never get a chance to see how your money is helping people. You bike, run or walk for "charity." Can you say with certainty, where your hard earned donation money goes? This donation is tangible. You will see a film that helps educate and inform people about BRCA and also that Male breast cancer does exist. PINK AND BLUE.
The money we raise on Kickstarter will allow us to continue production and will help fund the crew, equipment rental, and travel expenses. Domestic shooting will also take place in Philadelphia, Texas, and Minnesota. We have a very streamlined crew. I prefer it this way, if the film is going to be real. The larger the crew, the smaller the message.
$75,000 will get us to the end of principle photography. We could make a shorter film we are quite proud of for the festival circuit, and some potential television outlets. However, to make this groundbreaking film the way we see it, our budget is $520,000. This budget guarantees that the messages and stories have worldwide reach, which is the ultimate goal.
I worked my way from driving an ice cream truck in Saratoga, NY into producing television in Los Angeles, Ca. for the past fifteen years. Radiating good energy and trusting the universe has always charted the course of my life. However, I didn’t expect that breast cancer was going to play such a major role in steering the path.
My grandmother passed away from breast cancer two weeks before I was born, and my aunt Carol lost her battle at age 49 with ovarian cancer in 1998.
February 14, 2008. My sister K. Sammy Blassberg was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was with her in the hospital when she received the news. “Well you see this area right here?” Happy Valentines Day. Calling our parents 3,000 miles away to let them know their daughter had cancer was a horrible moment that one never forgets.
I had no idea how many things as I knew them were about to change. Sammy was diagnosed with Triple negative BRCA 2 positive breast cancer. Huh? Negative is good, right?
There were no straight answers from hospitals back East. Can someone just lay it on the line? Not knowing where to turn, I blindly reached out to Johns Hopkins Breast Center. Lillie Shockney, the Breast Center's Administrative Director and a real life angel, not only answered my call, but took her time explaining answers to the void. Lillie put me in touch with Dr. Ben Parks (another angel in the fight) who laid everything out for me. It was the first time anyone stated that Sammy’s metastatic breast cancer was no longer curable, only treatable. There was no guessing anymore.
Three years and ten days later, my wild sister Sammy with a great soul, vivid imagination, incredible sense of humor and endless amounts of energy and spirit, was gone. My perspective on quality of life was changed forever.
During my sister’s courageous BATTLE, my other sister, Lisa (from the East Coast), also tested positive for the same BRCA2 gene mutation. After a year of research and multiple doctor consultations, she decided to have her ovaries removed as the first step in proactively trying to stay ahead of cancer. Tired of holding her breath at every 6-month mammography and MRI at Sloane-Kettering, she decided she no longer wanted to feel like a ticking time bomb and made the brave decision to have a prophylactic double mastectomy. In doing so, she reduced her odds of getting breast and/or ovarian cancer from 80-90% to a 2% chance. As challenging as it was, she has never looked back.
REALLY, THERE IS MORE TO THIS STORY?
Did I forget to mention that my girlfriend Stephanie had breast cancer back in 2006? Well, wouldn’t you know that during my sister Sammy's fight, Stephanie’s breast cancer returned. I traveled between coasts doing the best I could to help support the people that I loved. I never realized just how prevalent breast cancer was in so many lives.
Stephanie was told that she would never have to worry about breast cancer again after her first battle. We know how that went. After a follow-up mammogram with her Oncologist in Thousand Oaks, CA, she was told that things were fine and she needed to relax. “This is all in your head.” She didn’t feel like everything was okay, but did as the doctor suggested and waited six months for her next mammogram. Relax, huh? Not only was the doctor wrong, but the small calcifications that she was told were “nothing” had grown into a 6 cm tumor. The universe opened up, and Stephanie was able to get an appointment with Dr. Armando Giuliano, a world-renowned expert in breast cancer. Three weeks later, she too was on her way to having a double mastectomy.
‘Enough is enough’ I thought to myself. Well, not yet. I tested positive for the BRCA 2 gene as well. Hello mammograms and MRI's. The family went three for three in testing for the gene. Three for three would have been great in baseball, but unfortunately not in the game of life.
When first diagnosed with breast cancer, many men are in shock. After all, breast cancer is a women’s disease, right? No, it is not. Do not let the surprise of this diagnosis distract you from the seriousness of this disease.
There are very few comprehensive male breast cancer studies, which limits the medical profession’s choices for treatments. When the medical research is scarce or unproven, doctors revert to what they know best, and that is how to treat a woman with breast cancer. “Well, if it works pretty well for a woman, we will just treat HIM, like HER”.
Breast cancer is much more common in women, so many men do not realize they to can develop it. The male breast is much smaller than the female breast, making the disease easier to spread into the chest wall.
Even though the percentage of men diagnosed with male breast cancer is relatively small, it is often more fatal. Since most men don’t know to look for it, the disease is usually found after it has progressed to a more dangerous level.
The overall ratio of female to male breast cancer in the U.S. is 100 to one. Although it sounds like a small number, 2,190 men are expected to be diagnosed, and 410 are expected to die from the disease in the U.S. in 2013.
It is time to tell the real story on the BRCA mutation and male breast cancer - It effects both women and men. Please help us save lives-
Alan M. Blassberg
Luther Vandross' "HERE AND NOW," written by Grammy award winning songwriter Terry Steele, was Sammy's favorite song. When I was able to chat with Terry, I asked him if he would write the title track for the film. Go to the website www.pinkandbluemovie.com to hear this tear-jerker. I'm pretty sure you will be hearing this song for many years to come.
Risks and challenges
I have had to produce my way out of some very precarious shooting scenarios. The toughest challenges that I have experienced would certainly be the Category 4 hurricane in Belize during TEMPTATION ISLAND that claimed two lives, 30 foot waves in the Bering Sea which also claimed two lives, or chasing after drug dealers with the POLICEWOMEN OF BROWARD COUNTY Sheriff's department.
Based on the differences in all of my projects, I feel that PINK AND BLUE is personally the most emotional story. This film has to be really honest in order for the education and message to get out there.
The crew we have assembled is just as passionate as I am about helping to educate people on the different issues the film will cover. They have all been affected by cancer in some fashion as well. Your generous donations will help save lives when this information about BRCA and male breast cancer is released into the universe.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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