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photo How Can We Love You?
By Laura Sky
Sky Works Charitable Foundation

How Can We Love You gives unprecedented voice and presence to women living with metastatic breast cancer (cancer which has spread to other parts of the body: treatable, but rarely curable.) It tells the stories of Mary Sue Douglas and Jan Livingston, who traveled across North America performing in the play, Handle With Care. This moving video explores Mary Sue and Jan's 'backstage' reality, as they struggle to integrate their stage roles with their everyday lives and with the need to cope with cancer treatment. Both women talk frankly about their feelings of mortality, but also about their joy and fulfillment in making a difference for other women in the same situation. "I love it when people say that our play made them feel not so alone," says Jan, "that it validated what they were feeling."

The film is designed to inform and inspire women with breast cancer, their families and their caregivers, as well as healthcare professionals and anyone dealing with a life-threatening illness.

[Note: Jan Livingston and Mary Sue Douglas were tireless advocates for women with cancer. Jan became very ill during the film's production, and died in the fall of 2000. Mary Sue died suddenly in March of 2002. She had lived with cancer for 14 years, and with metastatic cancer for more than seven years.]

Handle With Care's cast included cancer survivors, researchers and professional actors. This innovative play was created in reaction to research studies which demonstrated some central concerns for both cancer survivors and their caregivers: feelings of isolation and social stigmatization, lack of adequate information, and problems of communication between women and their doctors.

71 minutes
© 2001
Purchase $199 DVD
Order No. QA-354

"An important contribution to cancer care. Provides a sensitive and extraordinary tool for training physicians, nurses and other care providers working with people with cancer. A catalyst to discuss issues that are difficult to raise and often left silent." Anne Rochon Ford, health journalist

"An important film for women living with breast cancer as well as for the people who care for and love them. It is first and foremost about relationships and caring for the people we love." Jennifer Keck, breast cancer survivor and advocate

"I need my colleagues to see this film. They always say they're too busy to take time out. If I had seen this film when I was first nursing, I would have been a better nurse." Nurses' comments

"A vivid testament to the power of creativity, affirmation and bonding of women who have metastatic breast cancer. Should be seen by health care students and professionals, hospice patients and workers, religious and community groups, and gerontology faculty teaching courses focusing on older women and gerontology and the arts." The Gerontologist

Related Films
One in Eight: Janice was 33 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is an irreverent and highly personal look at one woman's fight with a disease that affects one in eight women.

At My Mother's Breast: The filmmaker's mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all had breast cancer; she grew up knowing that she might be next. An extraordinary portrait of a family of brave, strong women finding unity in facing a terrifying and tragic genetic legacy.

Our Own Best Advocates: Encourages breast self-examination for women with disabilities, using whatever arm and hand mobility they have, or working with family, partners, or personal care assistants.

Look For Me Here: The final days in the life of a woman with metastatic cancer, who has chosen to forego further treatment, and to face death with friends and hospice care at home.

Tell Them You're Fine: Three fairly young people with cancer confront the day-to-day realities of coping with the impact of the disease, with therapy, and with the attitudes of family, friends and co-workers.


Related Films

Study Guide

Web Resources

To rent or purchase this film, please visit the Icarus Films website