A powerful new documentary by Griffith Film School alumnus Guy Mansfield tells the stories of the “forgotten women” living with advanced breast cancer.
The documentary follows women who attend the Advanced Breast Cancer Group (ABCG) – a support group for women across Queensland with advanced breast cancer, an illness for which there is still no cure.
Post Pink features candid interviews with six women and their children, partners and parents. It was shot over six months and provides an honest account of their experiences, from dealing with the diagnosis to living with a terminal disease.
A cathartic experience
Guy Mansfield, who undertook a Masters in Screen Production at GFS, said the shoot was “an amazing experience”.
“I didn’t know how each woman would react to the ‘straight to the bone’ questions I was asking,” he said.
“What we managed to get was beyond my expectations – I was absolutely stunned by how they opened up on camera about love, life, death.
“I think it helps to know you can talk about these things – it’s been cathartic.
“Many of the women told me afterwards that the filming process had helped their family overcome a lot of the fear and anxiety associated with the diagnosis.”
A fantastic relationship
Acting Head of Griffith Film School Professor Trish FitzSimons said GFS was pleased to support the launch of Post Pink next month, which will be attended by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Health Minister Cameron Dick.
“We respect their important work and value the professional opportunities they provide to our students and graduates,” she said.
“Griffith Film School is proud to be associated with the premiere of Post Pink.”
ABCG facilitator Mary O’Brien has worked for Griffith University’s Counselling and Wellbeing Service for many years, and said that ABCG has had a long association with Griffith Film School.
“The faculty and students at Griffith Film School have collaborated with us on several films,” she said.
“It has been a fantastic relationship.”
A devastating diagnosis
The Advanced Breast Cancer Group was founded in 1999 and supports women across the state who have been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.
The service helps women to find a way of living in the face of this devastating diagnosis, and allows them to connect with other women in the same situation.
“Advanced breast cancer is not a cancer many people like to engage with, as it is not about positive thinking, changing diet, or surviving – this is about the day to day of living with an incurable illness,” Ms O’Brien said.
The forgotten women
Post Pink director Guy Mansfield said the film’s title highlighted the difference between the successful campaign to battle primary breast cancer, and the challenges faced by women living with a disease for which there is no cure.
“A lot of events that are part of the ‘pink movement’ have an almost carnival atmosphere. It’s all about beating breast cancer, which is overcome by many women thanks to major advances in modern medicine,” he said.
“However this is not a place for those with advanced stage breast cancer, which is terminal.
“The Advanced Breast Cancer Group is one of the very few groups that offer support to these forgotten women.”
Hope in the face of adversity
ABCG facilitator Mary O’Brien said the film showed women who had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer that they didn’t have to travel the journey alone.
“For many of these women, they don’t know anyone in this situation, and it makes them feel more isolated and alone,” she said.
“When they see their experience reflected on screen, it makes them feel more connected.
“This is actually a film with a lot of hope.
“People grow through adversity, and learn things about themselves and each other along the way.
“This disease makes people view their life in a different way – you can’t take it for granted, which is very inspiring.”
A valuable resource
The film will be launched at Griffith Film School on 21 April.
Post Pink is designed as a free resource for anyone around Australia dealing with terminal breast cancer.
After the launch, it will be available online and in oncology wards and clinics across the state, and will also be used in universities across Australia for social work and psychotherapy students.
The film was produced by ABCG facilitators Mary O’Brien and Pia Hirsch with GFS Masters student Mircha Mangiacotti. GFS doctoral candidate Carey Ryan is overseeing marketing and event management.