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.

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