‘ONE IN EIGHT: JANICE'S JOURNEY’
Directed and produced by Cynthia McKeown; distributed by Fanlight Productions; VHS, color, 57 minutes
The market often seems to be flooded with breast cancer videos that don't contribute anything new to the community's need for information. One in Eight: Janice's Journey is different. This is a fine film that educates, entertains, stimulates, and touches its viewers while raising important questions about breast cancer diagnosis and treatment and possible environmental risks.
This documentary follows Janice for more than 10 years, beginning with her diagnosis of high-risk breast cancer when she is only 33.
We meet her doctors and watch her hair fall out, and her body react to chemotherapy. We see her friends and her family rally to her side and provide just the right support and direction. We listen to her fear, her grief, and her anguish about whether she can or should ever risk parenthood—believing that she might not live to raise children to adulthood.
Her experience of treatment is portrayed honestly and irreverently; there are no walks on the beach or furry puppies in this story. Instead, we are privileged to meet an intelligent, intense young woman who brings her considerable personal resources to the battle for her life.
Janice's mother died of uterine cancer when Janice was 17. Her mother's story, the family's stresses, and her lifelong fears that she would have the same history are woven through the current tale of Janice's own cancer. As we watch, we understand the generational impact of cancer and the legacy it leaves for both the patient and her family.
Following the completion of her chemotherapy and radiation, Janice travels to Long Island to visit her childhood home and try to better understand her memories and her heritage. While there, she learns of the area's high breast cancer incidence and the many unanswered questions about possible environmental risk factors.
The film is careful not to proselytize, but the very real worries about environmental changes and impact on health are thoughtfully explored.
Appropriately, it raises more questions than it answers and leaves viewers motivated to learn more and perhaps even become involved in the advocacy movement.
Best of all, the film has a happy ending: Janice is shown, 10 years after her breast cancer treatment, with her two healthy children and a new MIT PhD.
This documentary is very special and will be appreciated by other women living with breast cancer, their families, advocates, and health care providers.