About The Film

The Secret Cancer is a documentary film about the various forms of Appendix Cancer. This website features the doctors, researchers, patients, survivors and their families who participated in this effort to raise awareness of this disease.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Updates and Plans

I finally have some updates to report. I also have some personal experience to relay in working on this project.

I ask forgiveness in the gap in postings. There are several reasons for that gap. First, the fact is that as a PMP survivor, I am still working my way through the 'new normal' of my physical condition. To may great chagrin, I found that I wasn't physically up for the cross country travel or the demands of running a shoot this past summer.

This was a frustrating setback for the film and for me personally. However, there was a silver lining to postponing the shoot. Through my fund raising efforts, I have found more contacts for crew and equipment that will result in a high quality film. I've also taken the time the delay provided to set up a network of press contacts. The plan is to try to get coverage in each location we have a shoot and provide the press in a fact sheet to use in their stories. That way, we'll be helping to raise awareness even before the film is wrapped. When the film is finished, we would return to those same media outlets to publicize it.

We are also going to start shooting the film in Los Angeles. I decided to begin with the team that worked on my case and one that was more extreme who didn't make it. I realized that we will be interviewing a lot of people who received diagnoses and care from private surgeons and hospitals. I want to make sure that the public knows that there is help from even the most humble facilities. I was diagnosed by a doctor at a community clinic who saw patients with no insurance. My MOAS with heated chemo was at the LA County hospital.

Part of the price I pay for the extraordinary care I've received with no insurance, is that one gets to be not just a lab rat, but very much on display. After my MOAS, I had dozens of different interns and residents parade through my room. My father was perplexed by the sheer numbers of them. On several occasions, they were ten at a clip plus an instructor. I continue to be on display when I have my follow up appointments. I used to wonder about why I wasn't assigned a particular doc at the oncology clinic. Then, the supervising physician happened to be in one of my consultations. He told me that he wanted to make sure the interns and residents had a chance to review my case and interview me as they may not run into a case like mine otherwise. They'd be able to recognize the disease if they ever saw symptoms like mine. That had been the case with the doc who diagnosed me. She had been an intern at that same clinic with a supervising doc who had treated at least two other cases before mine. The doctors who talked to me today looked like they were still in high school. The young man should have been in a boy band. They were both adorable. The question they had which I still can't answer is why I didn't know that my appendix had burst. I explain that I have always had menstrual cramps from hell, but that doesn't seem to suffice as a reply. I think the bigger question is why I didn't get septicemia. Ah well. My appointments are longer than most at the clinic because I must be a storyteller in addition to my usual litany of worries and complaints.

I'm already an awareness raising font of information. Why not start in my own backyard?Thus, I can get the film and the news coverage rolling. My plan is to put up snippets of interviews from each shoot so that the media I approach can check it out and know exactly what the film will be about. I'm also going to ask permission to use PMP fact sheets put together by survivors. They have the best, most succinct information that I've seen on the disease.

I'm negotiating with USC's Media Relations on how to set all of this up so that there is no disruption for the doctors and no patient's privacy is violated. It's a matter of figuring out what day of the week is best to shoot at the hospital.

Meanwhile, I am setting a schedule for shooting in other cities and countries. Busy times ahead! Thank you for all of your patience.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Great News for the Film!

There only three days left in the fundraiser! If you haven't done so yet, please drop by the Secret Cancer Page at Indiegogo.com. Don't miss out on the great crew t-shirts and wristbands.

The fundraiser has had modest success monetarily though we have raised enough to fund equipment for Jon to edit the footage as we go. However, the effort has had big results in other areas. I have had many offers of equipment and crew to help shoot the film and get it through post production. The response has been wonderful and very moving. The fundraising effort also yielded something very exciting and unexpected.

I'm not at liberty to divulge many details, but I am excited to share what I can. The Secret Cancer has a wonderful new production partner who is a long time part of the entertainment industry and heavily involved in philanthropy. We now have a 'big gun' behind us that will make sure the film gets shot in a timely manner with the production values needed to guarantee it will be shown in the best venues to raise awareness.

We will be meeting with our new partners in the next few weeks to map out a production schedule. As soon as the relationship is formalized, I'll share all of the details.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fundraising Update

The fundraising effort for the documentary has been very slow. I don't want to compete with the fundraising to fight the disease, and I'm terribly about being pushy on such things. Thus, it's no surprise that it's slow. However, the effort has netted some great things for the making of the film. We have had donations of equipment from cameras to lighting packages to sound equipment. we have had donations of skills like cinematography, grip, gaffers and production assistants. And we've even had donations of frequent flier miles.

All of this has been invaluable and will definitely help us shoot this film. So, the fundraising is having a huge impact despite being slow with cash. But we still need more cash for the things that will go wrong. So, share this link:


Put it everywhere you can think of.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June Update -- Orgainzing the Interviews

I've had a couple dozen responses to the call for interviews from all across the country and from around the world. There have even been some doctors amongst the responses. There is a wide range of stories and outcomes. All of them are compelling.

I'm going to start scheduling phone interviews in the next couple of weeks, so that I can begin to shape the narrative of the film.

Though I will not be attending the events in Philadelphia, the trip to Cleveland in August still stands.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Steady Progress Toward the First Shoot.

Though we've been very quiet, progress is being made with regard to the shoot in Philadelphia. I had an opportunity to interact with one of the chairs of the PMP Cancer Walk last week. We was very pleased to hear that there will be more experts on the disease present at the 2nd Annual PMP Symposium than we thought. That's great for the documentary and for me. I'm still learning about the disease I've been fighting. As for crew for the shoot, along with my nephew, we are asking for help from Jon's Ala Mater, The University of the Arts. There is a good possibility that there may be film students available to help with the camerawork. That would be great. We can run a camera, but it's better for Jon to be focused on getting the best shot possible. And for me, it's best that I'm focusing solely on the interview. Also, my immediate family and my In-Laws are organizing transportation to get us everywhere we need to be.

The most important thing happening is the creation of a database of patients, survivors and caregivers. We've been very pleased at the level of responses we've received. We're asking respondents to share very personal and painful stories. Their courage and generosity is inspiring. We really look forward to meeting them in person.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Building Blocks Are Coming Together

The PMP Research Organization has really embraced the documentary. They kindly put out a call for stories from patients, survivors and caregivers. The response has been overwhelming. At times, I mean this literally. Each story is very moving and inspiring. These are extraordinary people showing tremendous grace under considerable pressure. It's been an honor to meet them. We hope to do their stories justice.

Speaking of moving stories, I've had my first conversation with Sean Hepburn Ferrer about telling Audrey Hepburn's story. We're very excited about that.

Relatives and friends in Philadelphia and Ohio have piped up to be our crews during the shoots this summer. We're also getting more offers for equipment. Still, our fund raising efforts need to pick up more steam as we aren't getting very much for free. The word is getting out about the fund raising by people kindly posting the link on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Hopefully, the donations will pick up soon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Starting Down a Long Road

Jon and I have begun scheduling our initial interviews for the film. Please look at the current dates in the column on the right side of this page. Come on out even if you don't want to appear on camera and support these worthwhile fund raising efforts.

Please pass this link along. We're still looking for people willing to appear on camera and share their stories about Appendix Cancer.

Also, we ask for forgiveness in advance. The information and pleas above will be repeated often as new readers discover this site.