Janice's Journey

One in Eight: Janice's Journey

"With hilarity and intelligence, Janice takes us on the journey of her fight with breast cancer. As she navigates the medical establishment and finds support and challenges in this battle, we learn from her discoveries and appreciate her authenticity and humor. Entertaining, real, funny, illuminating, important, touching and smart."

Women in the Director's Chair International Film and Video Festival, 2004

Film Premiere Slideshow...

The Journey of One in Eight: Janice's Journey

By Cynthia A. McKeown

Back in 1994, I found out that on the eve of her 33rd birthday my friend Janice Fine had been diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. I remember feeling shocked and devastated by the news. My reaction was to immediately write Janice a letter expressing my concern, and in the letter I asked her if she would like to use video as a way to reflect on her feelings about having cancer and what she was about to go through.

Janice responded, saying she did want to document her experience. She said when she was diagnosed, she had been handed a video made by a cancer patient on how to tie scarves when you lose your hair from chemotherapy. And while it was a lovely video, she felt that it didn't’t exactly prepare her for all that lay ahead.

So, Janice decided she wanted to work with me to create something that would help newly diagnosed women and their families and friends through their cancer experiences. This decision resulted in an amazing journey through the world of cancer and the world of independent filmmaking, and I learned much about courage and compassion as well as valuable lessons in how to get an important message out into the world.

I ended up working on this film for almost 10 years, and spent another several years getting it seen. To date it’s been shown at film festivals, conferences, colleges, hospitals, movie theaters, continuing education events, religious groups, public forums, private living rooms and libraries, and it’s had an international television broadcast on the Discovery Health Channel ( where it was renamed I Have Breast Cancer: Janice’s Journey).

The television premiere was in October 2005 (in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month) and it was subsequently rebroadcast over the next two years. In 2007 it was selected for a series called Breast Cancer Hope, and during the month of October of that year, Janice’s Journey was available to all Comcast customers with On Demand service.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film’s journey is that it is one of only a handful of truly independent films that has made it onto television in recent times without major corporate funding, public funding, pharmaceutical funding, foundation support or the backing of a major television entity, like PBS or HBO. It was made, however, through the generous contributions of over 300 individuals – anywhere between $5 - $5,000 and averaging in the $100 range. (You know who you are, and in case you’ve forgotten, you’re listed in the very long end credits of the film.)

I think the reason that this tiny little film has gotten so much exposure is because the story, and Janice’s eloquence and emotional honesty, speak to so many people who are fighting cancer. The story of hope, of finding the right doctor, of trusting your own body and instincts, of refusing to believe that the only outcome is that you get cancer and then you die, of reaching out to family and friends who will help you survive – is a critical story to tell and to hear, and also to believe.

It’s why I made the film, and why it will continue to be seen by many more people in years to come.