Breast cancer is a highly visible disease at the population level, but knowledge of individual experience is often either lost or generalised. The research questioned how film-makers and researchers without experience of illness investigate the lives of others and make them public. Often patients are interviewed using themes, questionnaires and even scripts that are determined in advance of any encounter. Their words are used to carve persuasive narratives to appeal to audiences and broadcasters. Testimonies are bolstered using 'expert' voices or even by our own views subjugating the lived experiences to external arguments and to easily consumed sound bites.
This project invited nine women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer to tell their story and represent their experiences. Each woman took home broadcast-quality video cameras and filmed their lives over a 10-month period. The films were edited with the women and revealed that much of what is experienced by women with breast cancer goes unseen and unsaid.
The film-making process demonstrated that approaches using 'snapshots' such as those often used in conventional research studies may fail to garner a true insight into the reality of living with breast cancer.