CANCER/EVOLUTION Episode 1: The Dustbin of History, 60min., USA
Directed by Maggie Jones, Brad Jones
The newest hope for cancer is actually one of the oldest.
Buried for a century, the metabolic theory of cancer is overturning entrenched dogma and reshaping the future of cancer treatment.
Episode 1 of this 5-part docuseries addresses the history of the metabolic theory of cancer through the story of Nobel laureate Otto Warburg, a gay, Jewish scientist under aegis of the Nazis.
One month after my 40th birthday I was diagnosed with terminal, stage 4 lung cancer that had spread to my left eye, my liver, a dozen lymph nodes throughout my chest, neck and abdomen, and four tumors in my brain. My prognosis of six to eight months with conventional treatment seemed optimistic. My doctors were focused on making me comfortable. I was dying.
One year later I was cancer free.
In that intervening year I devoted myself to studying the metabolic theory of cancer and researching the cutting-edge, evidence-based therapies that are just now being published. I contacted the heads of promising studies and was a nagging voice in their email inbox. I attended scientific conferences and met with the doctors and scientists who are shifting the cancer paradigm. I'm proud to now consider them my friends and am deeply grateful for their participation in this film.
When I finally achieved no evidence of disease, coloring my overwhelming joy was burning anger that so few people are aware of these published, lifesaving treatments -- including most oncologists. It's not their fault. Current metabolic therapies involve lifestyle treatments that can't be patented and inexpensive, off-label drugs whose patents have already expired. There are no cute pharmaceutical reps to evangelize them to doctors or conglomerates paying for slick TV ads with terrifying disclaimers. Instead, there is study after study quietly published in journals some doctors probably haven't read since medical school.
Unfortunately, even the doctors who are aware of this research are unable to recommend therapies that aren't FDA approved "standard of care" without risks to their practice. And, new therapies cannot become standard of care without hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trials. Trials that are not even considered unless there's a chance of recouping the millions spent.
I recognize that I am incredibly privileged to have the background, education and interest that allowed me to wade through oceans of research to find this largely unknown, evidence-based approach to cancer that saved my life.
Survival should not be reserved for the privileged.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
The month of my 40th birthday, I was diagnosed with terminal, stage 4 lung cancer that had spread to my eye, liver, four tumors in my brain, and more than a dozen lymph nodes throughout my chest, neck and abdomen. My prognosis of six to eight months with conventional treatment seemed optimistic. My doctors were focused on making me comfortable. I was dying.
One year later I was cancer free.
In that intervening year I devoted myself to studying the metabolic theory of cancer and researching the cutting-edge, evidence-based therapies that are just now being published. I contacted the heads of promising studies and was a nagging voice in their email inbox. I attended scientific conferences and met with the doctors and scientists who are shifting the cancer paradigm. I'm proud to now consider them my friends.
I'm honored to use my extra years to spread word of the published, peer-reviewed research that is saving lives like mine. I started with a blog, then a cancer coaching practice, but realized more change is needed than I can accomplish one-on-one.
Fortunately, my husband's background is filmmaking and he had the idea to simplify the research into an engaging, easily digestible documentary.
I recognize that I am incredibly privileged to have the background, education and interest that allowed me to wade through oceans of research to find the science that works. Survival shouldn't only be for the privileged and CANCER/EVOLUTION makes it accessible to all.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
After a few months of planning and outreach, my husband, Brad, and I packed up our little car and left Seattle before sunrise January 2020. We spent a month on the road driving from Washington to Boston to Florida and back, interviewing leading scientists and doctors.
Originally we were planning on a feature documentary but, after the initial rough cut and test screening, we realized we needed a 5 part docuseries to contain the amazing story of advancement from the 1920s to today.
It took 2 years to complete Episode 1 at the end of 2022. We expect to have at least Episode 2 complete at the series World Premiere September 20, 2023. [https://cancerevolution.events]
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Informative. Inspiring. (That was hard.)
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The vast majority of production took place at the peak of COVID in the US so ensuring the safety of our interview subjects was paramount. There were also some travel complications for our interviewees outside the US.
On a personal level, I have a brain injury caused by my past cancer radiation treatment that causes seizures, aphasia, and overall makes travel and interviewing tricky. All the challenges were well worth the result.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
The audience reactions were more than we'd hoped - if fact, we watched them twice the first day. We're just amazed and grateful that the audience understood the message and drew attention to aspects we are especially proud of like the pace and editing quality. It was a euphoric feeling and I wish I could hug each of the reviews personally.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
Brad was living as a snowboard bum in Telluride, Colorado after college and started volunteering at the Telluride Film Festival. He fell in love with the art of filmmaking and moved to Los Angeles for film school. He spent 20 years as an editor (you might recognize his handiwork in shows like Jersey Shore, Party Down South, and Ninja Warrior) but, like many in Hollywood, always wanted to direct.
After our cancer experience and the depths of research, the need to make this particular project became urgent.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
For Maggie, it has to be Beastmaster with The Princess Bride and Willow close behind. Yes, I was a "sword and sandals" '80s kid who only read books with maps in the front. As soon as I found out Brad had worked on the Willow DVD Behind the Scenes, I knew I had to marry him.
Brad's most frequently viewed film is probably Tombstone, another movie Maggie loves.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
Being able to watch the audience reactions was just magical. It would be lovely if the festival were IMDB-certified so we could brag about our inclusion more widely.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
10. What is your favorite meal?
Those who have watched CANCER/EVOLUTION can probably guess that therapeutic diet is very important to my continued healing. After a year of eating a strict ketogenic, plant-based diet until my no evidence of disease diagnosis, we both continue to eat low carb real food - zero sugar or processed food. A favorite weekend meal is pasture-raised eggs cooked in coconut oil with a side of sauteed mushrooms, onions, peppers and spinach served with avocado and smoked salmon.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
We're deep in post-production for the remaining episodes of CANCER/EVOLUTION. The synopses are at cancerevolution.film. Once those are complete, we're already talking about Season 2 and Diabetes Revolution.