Facts (Part III): Friends, Family, Health, and Considering Cancer

Michelle:  Part of being a young adult is the freedom for so many recreational activities, healthy and otherwise. I happen to live in Seattle, where summers arrive late but are gloriously sunny, warm, and lush. From July to late September there’s no trace of the dreary skies and constant piss-mist-drizzle (aka mizzle) most people associate with Seattle. Free time is spent with friends: hiking, camping, playing drunken badminton, going out to a free outdoor music festivals, enjoying ourselves and each other.

It's all fun and games until you find precancerous cells on your cervix

If my best friend became constantly drained and sickly after a few weeks of beach volley ball during the day and heavy drinking and dancing at night, would I think for even a moment that she might have cancer? Probably not.

Consider Cancer.

Did you know that despite a patient with textbook symptoms, many doctors don’t even consider cancer in young adults?

Nah, no way a strong, nubile 19-year-old could have lymphoma. Fatigue and night sweats with an occasional fever? Probably nothing. And besides, those tests will cost a pretty penny.

For most physicians cancer is damn near unthinkable for a 22-year-old, so by the time cancer is diagnosed the disease is often at stage 3 or 4… Shit, if only the doctor had bothered to run a few more tests a while back.

So, What Can I Do?

Don’t skimp out on annual physical exams. If colon or cervical cancer runs in your family, don’t be afraid to get your nethers checked by a professional. Encourage your sisters, cousins, and girlfriends to get yearly pap smears. Also, fellas shouldn’t be shy about helping his lady with breast examinations!

Most of all: Justifying spending the money for something that’s “probably nothing”  would definitely be worth it, especially if an early-stage disease is found. If you or a loved one have persisting health problems, urge that a doctor run more tests. You can afford to be careful when it comes to health.

The Facts (Part II): Organizations that Help

Michelle: Imagine you are a 20-year-old university student. Or maybe you’re 25 with a steady job, or perhaps 32 and just laid off after being with the same company for 7 years. An annual exam finds cancer and you think:

– Will I have to quit school?

– Will my meager medical insurance be enough?

– What will my girlfriend think?

– How do I even bring this up to the boy I’ve only been dating for 2 months?

– What will my boss say?

– What if I can’t get pregnant?

– Holy crap, I have midterms coming up.

– This is going to scare the bejeezus out of my parents.

– My sister is going to freak the eff out.

– What if I can’t work 40 hours a week anymore? Will my company fire me?

– Why now? I can’t afford to skip out on job interviews because of hospital tests.

– Will anyone even want to hire someone with cancer?

Young adults with cancer are a very unique group. Even the term “young adult” a state of transition into being a real Grown Up, whether it be school, career, or love life. Many at this age are still figuring things out, are newly financially independent, don’t necessarily have long-term partners or solid support networks. The student loans are still fresh. Settling down is either in the works or being purposely avoided.

Who wants to hire, or even help a 20 or 30-something with cancer in this flailing economy?

Many doctors and cancer treatment organizations are either unaware or simply don’t take the time to share information specifically catered to young adults with cancer. Thankfully, there are many wonderful resources out there that will gladly take on that important task! For example…

I’m Too Young For This was founded by young adult cancer survivors, and their mission is to aid, support, connect, and give a voice to this largely neglected community. i2y.com has a plethora of coping information exclusive to young adults with cancer, and links to both online and local support groups (there are even chapters in the UK, Canada, and Australia!).

With everything from social networking events to advocacy, peer counseling, even scholarships & financial aid, I’m Too Young for This is a great place to learn about community events and retreats, or find solace in other forms of media such as internet forums or related books and movies.

There’s also Seventy K, which especially advocates the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Bill of Rights. Check out the YouTube video about Seventy K below, or click here.

More awesome resource links:

The Facts (Part I)

Michelle: Remember those public service announcements on TV that began in the late 80’s,  The More You Know?  The simple format of dishing out bite-sized servings of useful information continues to be revolutionary and highly effective in bringing awareness to the masses about safety, health, and world issues. The more you know, the better you can act and inform others.

To that end, it’s time for some good old fashion learnin’! Did you know:

  • Every year 70,000 young adults between the ages of 15 to 39 are diagnosed with cancer in the US.
  • In this age group the rate of  cancer survival has seen no  noticeable improvement in over 20 years.
  • The 15 -39 year old age range is referred to as Young Adult. Too old to be completely coddled, but too young to be fully independent.
  • Over the past 30 years, young adults with cancer have seen the greatest increase in cancer incidence than any other age group.
  • Young adults with cancer suffer a mortality rate of 10,000 per year in the United States.

Want to learn more? Check out these links:

Be sure to tune in next time when we’ll discuss specific organizations that help support the unique needs of the young adult cancer community.

The Young Invincibles on Fractured Atlas

Michelle: Following up to the previous post, check out The Young Invincibles profile on Fractured Atlas. The profile also contains a link for contributions and donations to the project!

While you’re there, take a moment to browse some of the other past and current projects sponsored by Fractured Atlas. It’s wonderful to see so many different facets of creativity in the arts community.

Please note: The Young Invincibles is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of The Young Invincibles may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Funding: Going Non-Profit

Michelle: As a child I loved the visual image of the term “seed money,”  watching a street performer plant a couple of his own dollars in a tip jar, hoping that his talent would persuade appreciative onlookers to nourish the money pot, making it flourish into bushel of green cash. Film makers have a vision of how a story should be shared with the masses, and seed money is the funding that is needed to begin making that kind of tangible, quality storytelling possible. In a previous post, Aaron mentioned that many burgeoning films struggle with finding initial funding. The Young Invincibles is Sarah and Aaron’s first foray into film making, a film we hope will in part bring awareness to the youth cancer survivor community. With any new project it is important to get solid advice from experienced sources, particularly in how to seek and obtain different kinds of funding and donations.

Enter: Fractured Atlas. A friend of Sarah’s recommended this organization after having worked with Fractured Atlas to get her NYC based theater company, Down Payment Productions, up and running. Fractured Atlas is a not for profit group that works with artists in all disciplines and types of projects to more efficiently manage their projects as a business. Accepted applicants are then fiscally sponsored,  gaining access to funding generally available only to non-profit organizations. Fractured Atlas also supports the arts community with a spectrum of resources, from networking and online education to liability insurance.

Through their fiscal sponsorship program, projects such as The Young Invincibles are able to receive benefits similar to non-profit groups. Therefore, it is my pleasure to announce that The Young Invincibles is now able to receive grants and tax-deductible contributions that will make this film a reality. Hooray!

Welcome, Michelle! (our New Media Marketing Manager)

Aaron: Here at The Young Invincibles Sarah and I have been hard at work getting the film off the ground. However, the further along we go in our filmmaking journey, the more work there is for us to do. So, it is time to reach out and expand our team. In that vein, it is my pleasure to announce that Michelle Molina will be coming on board as our New Media Marketing Manager. Michelle will be taking over the day-to-day operations of this website, launching the film on FB, Twitter, and across the web with the goal of expanding The Young Invincibles online presence.

I have known Michelle since Vanilla Ice was cool. Well, maybe not cool but on the radio. Currently, Michelle is a Seattle resident by way of Las Vegas and works with us via Skype. She is a Seattle University grad where she earned an insanely high GPA, has worked as a marketing researcher for Trident Seafoods, a  copy writer for Open Interface North America, and as a communications coordinator with Big Fish Games. I think her own words describe her best, she has “new media ingenuity and dexterity” and is “technology savvy yet socially astute.” I am very excited to have her on board and perhaps even more excited to be able to say we have a certified “Information Tubes Ninja” working with us. Welcome to the team, Michelle! If anyone wants to know more about her, we encourage you to please check out Michelle’s personal blog here.

Core Audience, Where Art Thou?

Is this the opening night crowd for "The Young Invincibles"? Could be! Will you be there?

Aaron: So, like most….well, I was going to say indies but, in truth, like most films that aren’t directed by James Cameron or starring Johnny Depp, we are in the process of securing funding. And, from what I have read, even the Oscar winning film “The Hurt Locker” had a hard time getting its initial funding. So, clearly money and quality are not always connected. (Side note: Sarah and I got to meet the director of “The Hurt Locker” at a screening in NYC a year ago and actually talked with her about this project. Very nice lady.) However, a certain amount of green is required to give any film a certain level of quality. And, those with green generally have a list of questions the filmmaker needs to answer in order to get said green. The number one question (after the question does it star Johnny or is it directed by James) is “Who is going to see your movie?” This is a truly fair and often unanswered question by filmmakers. It is as my lovely wife talked about “The Business of Art.”

Who wants to see your film? Or, in other words, who is your core audience? Who would give their green to see your movie? Well, for us it is this. Our film is a touching, sometimes funny, character driven story about vivacious young adults living with cancer. It hopes to shed some light on a growing population. A population that, although we often hear about from celebrities and too often know in our friends and families, we rarely see in our cinema. So, first off, our audience is those that want to see an honest look at a growing population. Second, our audience is those that enjoy subtle story telling with great acting performances. People that enjoy a film that gives you time to understand the depths of another human being and the world they live in. “Once,” “Rachel Getting Married” and “Things We Lost in the Fire” are high-profile types of these films and proof that this audience is widely prevalent. Heck, a look at Netflix users shows that over time movie watchers taste changes and lean more towards these smaller indie films. Some smaller films in this vein like “Medicine for Melancholy,” “Ballast” and “Quality of Life” show that even without studio backing these films can find their audience. In its most crude and simplistic form, this audience is generally people in their 20’s & 30’s with a college education living in urban areas or people in their 50’s & 60’s with the time and palate for such films.

So that, in short, is the answer for us of “Who wants to see  The Young Invincibles?”  If this sounds like you or you would be interested in seeing our film made, please subscribe to this blog. Seriously, that little action will help greatly. It helps us have a more concrete demonstration of who the audience will be for the film. And, it helps the money men feel better about the green they will put into it.

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