In a moving, 30-minute documentary called “Close to Home: Cancer Survivorship,” now available on YouTube, survivors, caregivers and physicians describe their personal experiences with cancer. They talk about how their lives were affected, challenged and changed, and how they navigated those challenges. The result is a rich tapestry of collected wisdom spoken by those who live it each day.
“Many people with cancer are quietly and completely transformed,” says Rick Boulay, M.D., director of the division of Gynecologic Oncology. Boulay is also director, Cancer Survivorship, Lehigh Valley Health Network Cancer Institute, and the founder of the Catherine Boulay Foundation.
Boulay knows firsthand how cancer can affect one’s entire life. His wife, Julie Bolton, was diagnosed with leukemia nine years ago.
Talking to his patients helped him through it. They shared with him their wisdom of the cancer journey. How to talk to his children. How to ask for and accept help. How to breathe.
“I began to realize that [my patients] knew far more than I about managing a cancer diagnosis,” he said. “I had the degree, but they had the wisdom. I had the books, but they had the practicality.”
And, so, the idea for “Close to Home” was born. The film provided a forum for people to talk about various aspects of their survivorship: caregiving, spirituality, hope and “cancer as a journey.” They share their fears and anxieties. Boulay’s wife, Julie, now a cancer survivor, appears in the film, along with many other cancer survivors who explain how they cope with uncertainty, and how they find the strength to keep going.
A collaborative project between the Catherine Boulay Foundation (named after Boulay’s grandmother), WLVT PBS39, and community partners from the Lehigh Valley, “Close to Home” captures the transformative power of shared stories.
Boulay, a classically trained singer, also co-wrote and recorded a CD of 11 songs as a companion musical collection to the videos. The CD is available from the Catherine Boulay Foundation and may be downloaded from iTunes.