About However Long

Synopsis

However Long addresses the question that all human beings need to ask themselves: how do you want to live the rest of your life? The film is an intimate portrait of four women living with incurable (metastatic) cancer and the unique support group that connects them all. As these women process challenging questions about how to live the rest of their lives, themes like resiliency, hope, and ferocious honesty emerge as they gain clarity and begin to accept their terminal diagnosis. 

Film Goal

We hope that by watching this film, and seeing these women talk honestly about living with an incurable disease as they face their own mortality it will give viewers a chance to live life with a different awareness and consciousness. Through community outreach and engagement, we hope that However Long will bring awareness and understanding to a disease that continues to kill close to 40,000 women each year.

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The Creative Team

A Note from the Director

Cancer is a deeply personal issue. I lost my aunt Bev to Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2004. A decade later, when my dear friend Barbara Chatfield was diagnosed. As a physician, Barb helped to educate me. She shared that 40,000 women continue to die each year from the disease, the median survival rate is three years, and not enough funding is used to support research on the metastatic disease process.

I was a part of Barb’s chemotherapy support team, and would take turns driving and keeping her company during her treatment. During my visits with Barb, she told me about a unique monthly support group that had just started for women with stage 4 breast cancer. She described the group as a sanctuary for her and the other members. Despite the empathy and support she received from her family and friends, the women in this group “just got it”. They became a critical life line to Barb as her disease progressed. In the widely visible pink landscape of breast cancer, here was a population of women who had to face their journey without treatment that would cure them.

I was fascinated by that experience and had so many questions: How would you live your life with an incurable disease? How would you face your friends and families? Do you create a bucket list? How would you navigate end of life concerns? Barb graciously acknowledged my interest in this story as a possible film, and introduced me to the Social Worker and Oncologist who ran the monthly support group. This was the beginning of the filming process of However Long.

We filmed five of the monthly support groups over a two-year period and followed 4 of the group members outside of group. These women allowed me and my small crew into their lives to tell the story of their cancer journey. The film gives us an intimate window into their experience. We were able to observe the way they approached their diagnoses with grace, courage, and honesty.

We hope that However Long and our online educational guide will give oncology teams, medical students, graduate students, and patients & families living with incurable cancer an opportunity to dive deeper into the experience and talk about the issues they face. As we continue to develop better and more effective treatments, it’s essential that we prioritize more funding for metastatic disease. We hope that the film can be used as a tool to look at the importance of fundraising for metastatic disease.

Spending time with the women in this group and their remarkable social work/oncology team has been a profound experience for our entire team. Talking about end of life issues is difficult, and these conversations are often avoided. We are proud and humbled to share However Long with audiences, and we hope that you will learn and grow from what they share. These women have helped me to live in a way that is stronger, and more present. Life is precious, and the time to live fully is now.