The idea for this film came out of Mike and Bonnie Lang’s experiences facilitating adventure trips, retreats and conferences with young adult survivors. Through the many conversations and group discussions with survivors, they realized how much each person’s story was able to help others and they were always amazed at the wisdom that came from the sharing those stories. Mike and Bonnie recognized that many young adult survivors didn’t realize they had a profound story or did not know where to start when sharing their story.
The goal of this film is to look at the stories of young adults with cancer using the concrete five phase story structure as the framework. Through the film we hope to encourage survivors to view their lives as epic stories; stories that need to be told to others so that the wisdom gained from the journey will not be lost. We understand that life is complicated and cannot always be categorized into five simple phases, but we think it is a good place to start.
We hope you enjoy the film. Know that your level of connectedness with the film may depend on where you are at in your cancer journey. We encourage you to come back and watch the film periodically and join the conversation with your comments and thoughts on the Survive & Thrive Facebook page. Thanks for watching!
The film was shot over a weeklong sailing trip with Survive & Thrive Expeditions in the Discovery Islands off Vancouver Island, BC. If you are finished active treatments and feel lost in your life post cancer or simply want to meet and have an amazing adventure with other young adult cancer survivors, visit the "Your Own Adventure" tab.
In the first phase of a story, the hero discovers his/her purpose. In looking at our lives as a story, it is vital that we know who we are and what our direction, goals, and dreams are because otherwise our story doesn’t truly matter. Creating a life mission statement will help you set the direction of your story.
It is in this phase where conflict is first introduced. Although it can be difficult, conflict creates momentum and moves our stories along. Conflict causes motion and change, which is never purposeless because it always leads us to a different place. We have been taught to avoid conflict, but embracing it fosters movement in your story.
The climax is not the point where everything “turns around” for the hero but rather where he/she makes an intentional decision about the conflict being experienced. This often involves a change in attitude or shift in perspective and a commitment to step out boldly and live differently. This decision ultimately sets the course for the rest of the story.
This phase of the story has the most tension. The conflict reaches its highest point and things look hopeless for the hero to ever accomplish his/her goal. The hero is tested past his/her limit but does not waiver from the climax decision. This phase ends with the hero letting go of everything; it ends with acceptance.
"Resolution" here is not finite or complete, but rather the process of accepting the way things are now. It is not a defeated acceptance but instead one that causes us to act and think and live in light of the lessons learned from the conflict in our stories. Life is not predictable and does not close neatly like the end of a fictional story, but acceptance leads to peace no matter the ultimate outcome of the story.
Many young adults feel they have missed out on some of the best years of their lives and feel intense pressure to “get on with it” once they have finished treatments. They often jump right back on the path they were following pre-diagnosis just to realize that so much has changed and what they thought was important to them is not so important anymore.
In order to move forward in a healthy way it is important for survivors to feel like they have permission to stop and reflect on the past, refocus on the present, and rebuild their lives in light of what they have learned about themselves through cancer.
Survive and Thrive Expeditions Inc. is dedicated to combining travel, adventure and in-depth reflection and exploration of the cancer journey into one unique life changing experience.