Cancer and The Big “O”

Michelle:  While researching The Young Invincibles we noticed that sex and body image issues are unique when it comes to the YA cancer scene. Whether or not settling down or starting a family are in future plans, young adulthood is the socially designated period for “fun sex” (as opposed to “awkward learning sex” or “routine maintenance sex”) and searching for potential (romantic, life, sex) partners. Developmentally and culturally speaking, the 20’s and 30’s are a perpetual open mating season, a time to romp and frolic in fields of love and genitalia while in your “prime.”

Adding cancer to that mix causes some intriguing side effects and one question tops all the other ones. Many YA cancer survivors feel like it’s a betrayal, the body being destroyed just as it’s expected to be at its physical peak. While the loss of a breast or testicle can surely knock sexuality off kilter, the ways people deal with and express themselves when faced with such circumstances are continually amazing. The Scar Project is jaw-droppingly moving and empowering for viewers and participants alike. If you happen to live in the NYC area you should definitely check out the exhibition.

Our friends over at Babeland recently posted on their Facebook:  “Sex Tips for Cancer Survivors.” Get inspiration from erotica and porn if your familiar ways of getting off aren’t working. Be open to new ideas and don’t judge yourself for what you respond to.

Ms. Selin Caka, sex therapist in training, wrote a fantastic post about positive cancer + sex, pointing out that being forced to deal with the physiological implications of cancer can lead to a new found openness about one’s body and sense of sensuality. In a recent chat with her, Caka went on to say, “If someone’s suffering through chemo, or looks in the mirror every day and hates what they see, living in their skin can feel awful. Sex is a great way to remind us how amazing our bodies can make us feel. Even if it’s solo, a good orgasm can change the color of the world for a while, and that can be powerful medicine.” Check out her blog at Chakabox.com.

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So…What’s Your Film About?

Michelle:  Whether at a high-profile meeting or at a laid back cocktail party, the creators of most art forms are perpetually prompted to describe their idea by likening it to existing, well-known pieces in order to gain legitimacy and respect from their peers. The results usually end up in very absurd territory. Example?

Boy at a Party: You should check out my band sometime. Our sound is a Flaming Lips/Guns and Roses love child that was raised by Ani DiFranco.

Potentially Interested Girl: (giggle) Wow, that sounds…pretty neat actually. Tell me more!

Humans like categorizing. It helps us make sense of the world around us, especially the parts of the world containing different and unfamiliar ideas. While some artists shun this practice for fear of labeling their omg totally original art, it’s a necessary evil in generating any interest or curiosity about a project. The film industry is rife with this sort of quick referencing.

Random Human: So…what’s your film about?

James Cameron: Well, Avatar is kinda like Dances with Wolves in space.

Random Human: Oh, okay. I guess that makes sense…Wait, what?

 

We are not making this shit up. Read all about it here and here.

It’s also been said that Titanic = Romeo and Juliet on a boat. Which goes to show that even after you’ve made two of the highest grossing films in history an artist must still quip cheesy-ass pigeonholing references to make potential audiences, investors, and critics feel just enough familiarity but with its own creative spin.

A couple of other delightful examples:

St. Elmo’s Fire group dynamic meets a Hackers universe = The Social Network.

Monty Python tomfoolery + witty Sherlock Holmes whodunit = Clue.

There are obvious pros and cons to this sort of labeling. Comparisons to glory may give off an inflated sense of ego, but mass recognition referencing undeniably garners a nodding, “Oh, I think I get it” type of reaction. A reaction that hopefully contains the magical mixture of comfortable recognition and show-worthy appeal.

Random Human: So…what’s your film about?

The YI: The Young Invincibles is an independent fictional story (not a documentary!) in Traffic-style storytelling with Reality Bites characters.

Get it? Good. Sound appealing? We sure hope so!

F*ck Cancer and F*cking With Cancer

Michelle: October means mulled wine, spiced cider, piles of golden leaves, and pumpkin flavored…everything! Perhaps you already know that October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month, but did you know it is also National Family Sex Education month?

Whimsical, refreshing, glycerin & paraben-free!

We bring this up because sex and boobies are two very important things in life that cannot be neglected despite the generally sombering affects of cancer. Organizations such as Save the Ta-Tas bring a provocative and flirty edge to cancer awareness and early detection for young females, reminding gals that having cancer doesn’t mean losing their sexiness and sexuality. Taking it a step further is the wondrous Babeland, a female-owned sex toy shop (based in Seattle!), and the all-natural lubricant developer Squlid. Together they’ve created a tasty Pink Lemonade flavored lube in honor of October awareness/research causes, and also the gentle reminder that getting it on promotes health and wellness! Proceeds go to the Young Survival Coalition.

Next in shaking up awareness: Fuck Cancer. Their mission is explained best on their homepage as “a movement to change the way cancer is perceived and diagnosed in our society, and how cancer survivors perceive themselves. It’s about early detection and treatment. It’s about fighting back and regaining control. It’s about sharing your story and spreading the word.”

The Young Invincibles applaud this mission, and love seeing how the attention to cancer awareness is changing over the last 25 years. We are excited that our film will be adding such vivid dimension to the voice of the young adult cancer community.

 

Fundraising and Questions

Huzzah! The YI has officially started our active fundraising campaign. It’s an exciting yet nerve-racking time where all the hard work of putting the film’s vision into a well-organized plan is distributed and hopefully deemed worthy enough for donors to contribute to the project.

Feedback has been positive, but as we tell more people about the film two main questions keep popping up:

  • If The Young Invincibles is a feature film, not a documentary, how are tax-deductible donations possible?
  • If this film is about young adults with cancer why not make a documentary?

Isolation and lack of media presence are two of the main issues within the young adult cancer community, and The Young Invincibles aims to change that. Since the young adult cancer community is underrepresented, we know there is a need and therefore an audience for this film. And, while many other countries have allotted funds for the arts, particularly projects attached to a good cause, Northern American artists have traditionally been funded by private investors or donors. We decided to work with Fractured Atlas because it makes sense that the same audience that would want to see this film would also help fund it, and offering a tax-deductible donation option would help make such funding possible.

So, why not a documentary? The YI’s goal is to create an intimate, entertaining look into the world of the young adult (YA) cancer community. Humans naturally love the story telling process, being able to make a meaningful connection with characters while following their journey to its end. While talking to Aaron about this he said, “Following someone around with a camera changes the nature of the person being filmed.” The reality tv phenomena clearly proves Aaron’s statement true, and is the opposite of what The Young Invincibles hopes to capture. It’s rather impossible to access the most impactful moments in the YA cancer experience in real-time, such as receiving the initial cancer diagnosis or breaking the news to friends and family. In the spirit of independent filmmaking, The YI aims to break ground for both the movie industry and the young adult cancer community!

Curious about Sarah and Aaron’s vision for The Young Invincibles and how they plan to make the film? Check out the Prospectus, and feel free to pass it along to anyone that might be interested in donating.

A Facelift, a Facebook, and a Twitter (oh my!)

Michelle:   Apologies for the lack of updates as of late. The YI team has been quite busy behind the scenes developing our site’s snazzy new look and laying the groundwork for the exciting months ahead of fundraising and film shooting preparation. Among the fancy features we’ve added to the site, check out the full Synopsis and enhanced Donation info sections.

Special thanks to Dana of Dana Tina Graphic Design for the awesome teaser poster and otherwise visual badassery.

We also just launched Facebook and Twitter accounts for The Young Invincibles. Friend us for exclusive content and news!

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:

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