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.

 

10 Q&A’s: DanaTina, Designer Extraordinaire

Michelle:  Dana, of DanaTina Graphic Design, is the talented artist who created the teaser poster for The Young Invincibles. This week I had the pleasure of getting to know her professional and fanciful inclinations a little bit better.
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1. How did you become involved with The Young Invincibles, and what made you want to work with a project about young adults with cancer?
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DanaTina: I found the project on an online posting and it immediately caught my attention, especially because it is an independent film.  I love independent movies and am always eager to support their making. After I found out its subject and read the script, I was inspired by this character-driven story; I saw the need to portray the hardships and challenges of life paralleled by cancer. Family experience made me quite sensitive to the movie’s subject as well. To be honest with you the script made me tear up. And that was my sign: THIS is my project!

2. What was the process in creating the teaser poster?

DanaTina: The process from start to end was quite smooth. It is a pleasure working with Sarah and Aaron. They are warm people and are able to express and exemplify their vision. The communication between us was clear and this is something that is valued in any collaboration.

I constructed a visual concept around the medical bracelet, an item that all people who have been in a hospital have in common. Although it identifies you, it doesn’t say who you are outside of the hospital.  As many things in graphic design/visual arts, it breaks down to the representation of the common denominator of which all people can understand. Just as a smile is recognized across all cultures to be a sign of joy, so the hospital bracelet understood to be a symbol of medical care in a hospital just as other universal symbols such as gender specification on the bathroom door, or the arrow pointing for safety during a fire, or the crosswalk light that guides us safely through the intersection.

The poster’s execution started with a photo-shoot, which thanks to my model, Ana, turned out fabulous. After the best shot was chosen, it was a question of choosing the right typeface and editing the images digitally so that everything comes together perfectly. Working with Bhati Beads really made the difference in the finishing touches of the poster; it shows the elegance in the bohemian style of facing the seriousness of life head-on with a triumphant attitude. I love the bracelets; they are really fashionable and bring out the spirit of today’s youth. Working with the company was really great, a smooth collaboration, no complaints. 🙂

3. Do you sing in the shower, in the car, or both?

DanaTina: Neither, haha… unless my husbands does and I join him. I do sing when I cook though, and randomly burst into singing while moving around the apartment.

The YI: Funny you should say that. Apparently Sarah has similar singing habits!

4. How did you get into the visual design business?

DanaTina: I was always attracted to visuals. When I was in high school I wanted to go into advertising. I was fascinated by it. But after working with an advertising agency in college, I saw the process of art change into something solely commercial and sales-oriented. I found my passion directing me somewhere else.

Having always created visual presentations for various purposes, I naturally found myself in the field of photography, quite amateurishly, but with great results. For some reason I thought it would be challenging to establish myself solely as a photographer, however I found myself incorporating my photographs into various layouts using different artistic techniques. It was a natural evolution into the realm of what I call broad-spectrum visual design.

5. If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be and why?

DanaTina: hmmm… I have so many favorite fruits… It’s hard. Raspberry: tastes great and is healthy, looks hard but is delicate to the touch, grows wild and independent, it is hard to get rid of, but who would want to anyway? What else… Bears love them!!!

The YI: That’s one of the best answers I’ve ever heard to that question. High Five!

6. Is being an artist in New York difficult or easy?

DanaTina: It is not easy, although easier than other places, probably. People in NYC are open to artistry and they appreciate it. One of the good things about being an artist in NYC is that you have the opportunity to let your individual style flourish.  Plus there is so much inspiration all around you! What is hard about being a graphic artist is the fact that work is sometimes taken for granted and not appreciated at its real value. However, if one is passionate and dedicated, that won’t slow them down; if anything that will make them even more determined.

7. Browsing your website you’ve worked with a wide variety of projects and organizations, which is pretty awesome. Care to tell us a bit more about your work?

DanaTina: Yes, I love variety! I am what I like to call a broad spectrum designer. While others strive to find a niche to be successful, I feel that variety is good for the soul and keeps your skill-set sharp and fresh; experimentation with one mode of working expands one’s understanding of the others, integrating knowledge and unique creativity. Also, it is the nature of freelance work that allows you to expand into new territories  with an vast array of people from all walks of life and cultures.

8. What 5 people, alive or dead, would you want to have over for a dinner party?

DanaTina: My husband, Karl Jung, Paolo Coelho, Buddha, DaVinci.

9. Do you have a favorite piece you’ve made, professional or otherwise?

DanaTina: Yes, I knew that would come up in conversation …besides the teaser poster for The Young Invincibles you mean? I think one of my favorites would be “Geisha” –  an illustration I created based on a novel that I love, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I read the book when it first came out and I kept a fond memory of it. The movie made it more popular, I assume. It was a project I worked on with a lot of passion.

10. Do you have a favorite quote?

DanaTina: “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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The YI: Awesome, Dana. Thank you so much for sharing your time and answers with us!

DanaTina: Thank you, Michelle! It’s been a pleasure.

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!

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.

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