Chasing Rainbows: Pat & Sara’s Story
Pat Taylor (director of Chasing Rainbows: Young Adults Living With Cancer) says:
On October 10, 1997, my daughter, Sara (aged 23) was diagnosed with cancer – Intra-abdominal desmoplastic small round blue cell tumour, a sarcoma. She immediately went to the BC Cancer Agency library in search of information on what she was about to face as a young adult with cancer. Finding nothing directed specifically to her age group, Sara agreed to have her 2 year journey with cancer documented by filmmaker Shel Piercy. That resulted in a documentary entitled “Sara’s Story” which played on BCTV Global, Women’s Network, Knowledge Network, and Vision TV.
During the filming of “Sara’s Story”, we shot a three hour roundtable discussion with Sara and 5 other young people, ages 19 to 29, candidly discussing what it was like to have cancer as a young adult. (Only a few seconds of that three hour shoot ended up in “Sara’s Story”.) Sara knew that that roundtable session addressed the very questions she was looking for answers for when she was first diagnosed. She knew others who found themselves in a similar life threatening situation could benefit from such a film. Then and there, Sara made it her goal to find a way to package those 3 hours into a manageable length to put onto a DVD, to be distributed to: all the cancer agency libraries and resource centres throughout B.C., Canada, USA and, “if we have time”, she said, Europe. I offered to help her reach that goal.
In the spring of 2000, on the very day a scan revealed that Sara’s cancer had reached her liver, we were turned down for funding for the film. The reason given – there were no “experts” speaking on camera thus making the film less “saleable”. Sara, shook her head in disbelief, and said, “I think we are the experts” and then burst into tears. It was in that moment that I committed to making Sara’s dream come true no matter what it took. We would find a way. Together.
However, from that day onward, Sara’s health began to rapidly decline and her focus became all about living life while fighting for it. Our priority shifted from funding the film to caring for Sara.
Sara died on July 17, 2000 at home with her cat, Paxil and her husband, Brad at her side. Just the way she wanted it. Her father, Lee, and sister Jenny, a close friend, Megan and I helped Brad bathe Sara that day. We gently dressed her in the beautiful white silk wedding gown that Sara had worn on October 10, 1998, “to reclaim the day”, and laid her out for friends and family to come and pay their last respects.
In the documentary “Sara’s Story” there is a moment caught on camera where I am asked what would I do, if Sara died. I just shake my head, and say, “How does a mother let go? I just don’t know.” And, I guess, my answer now is: You don’t. You keep them alive in any way you can, you relive their every waking moment. Every memory plays over and over in your brain so you can remember how they looked laughing, crying, yelling, smiling or triumphant! You recall the scent of their baby hair, their toothy grins and their chubby little arms wrapping around your neck and holding on tight, secure in the knowledge that you will protect them with your life. Forever!
Well, I couldn’t protect Sara forever. But I can certainly help her reach one of the goals she had before she died. Finish the film and make sure it reached the very people Sara intended it for.
It has taken me six years, but I saved the money so I could transcribe, edit, and reduce those three hours of the roundtable footage into a manageable length and put it onto a DVD. When I asked my business partner, singer-songwriter, Michael Booth Palmer to write the theme song for the film, I read him a quote about what rainbows represent; “the bridge between Heaven and Earth; the bridge between your earthly self and the higher enlightened self. It symbolizes good news and Hope!” Michael and I felt that the six young adults in the film epitomized all of that. Michael wrote a theme song entitled “Chasing Rainbows”. And that is how “Chasing Rainbows – Young Adults Living With cancer” became the title for the film.
Once I had completed the film I needed to find a way to distribute it to those who needed it: and to reach out to all young adults living with cancer in hopes of making them feel less alone. That is why Sara wanted to make the film. I approached the BC Cancer Foundation for help. They immediately got on board, and with the BC Cancer Agency, have generously helped fund the pressing, packaging and distribution of 3000 copies of “Chasing Rainbows” to: all the cancer agency libraries, most public regional libraries and oncologist networks throughout British Columbia.
They have created a webpage linked to the Foundation’s website (www.bccancerfoundation.com/Chasing Rainbows) where people can purchase copies of the film or donate to research or support systems for young adults living with cancer.
The BCCF made Sara’s BC goal a reality. I can’t thank them enough.
Now I just have Canada, USA and Europe to distribute to. I am also actively searching for a television broadcaster and I will submit to as many documentary film festivals around the world that I can find.
My hope is that now that “Chasing Rainbows” is finished it can be used as a tool to bring public awareness to the unique challenges facing young adults living with cancer.
Our first private screening was hosted by the YACN (Young Adults Cancer Network – http://www.yacn.ca) members at the Callanish Society (www.callanish.org) for family, friends, medical and emotional support teams for young adults with cancer.
“…in B.C. in 2003, 1284 young adults (ages 20-44) were diagnosed with some form of cancer. This age group represented just over 8% of the total number of BC residents diagnosed that year. The particular issues that young adults face when dealing with a life threatening illness like cancer are often not addressed by the patient education resources available…There is frequently no age-appropriate support available to young adults in Canadian communities. “Chasing Rainbows” addresses their need.” — Catherine Rayment, Provincial Library Leader, BC Cancer Agency
Young adults living with cancer need help in getting their needs heard and met. They need financial as well as emotional help. I will continue to do what I can to make that happen. One of my new plans is to produce a fundraising concert. Music and youth go together. Stay tuned for news on that front!
I will also continue to make “Chasing Rainbows” available for screenings to promote public awareness.
Please feel free to contact me for more information or if you have connections to further promote awareness. Thank you for your time and interest in Sara’s story and mine…we are both still Chasing Rainbows.
Stay well; stay true!