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Challenging the "Lance Armstong Myth" About Cancer

Our film, The Truth About Cancer, which includes my husband's story, played at the Reel Lives Film Festival in Geneva, Switzerland, and it won Best Film in the Reportage Category. The current issue of Cancer World writes about the festival and our film, in particular.

"Linda Garmon started to make a film with her husband Larry when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2000, confident it would be an upbeat story. When, after waves of treatment, he died, what Linda calls her 'naive faith in medical progress' was swept away.

"'As the daughter of a space programme engineer, I had grown up with an unquestioning faith in America's abbility to solve problems with science and technology. So nothing, nothing at all preparedd me for what happened 30 years later when my husband died of cancer.'...

"[Garmon's] 90-minute film is relentlessly honest....Mostly, it challenges what Garmon calls the 'Lance Armstrong myth' that if you fight hard enough and throw enough resources at a problem you will conquer it.

"Linda Garmon says her main aim was to challenge media myths. 'We have a cancer industrial complex here in the United States and the media feed into it, helping the cancer field to hype things that shouldn't be hyped. You have really irresponsible coverage of so called breakthroughs. I am old enough to have lived through several of them, interleukin, interferon, Glivec. If is not that those drugs did not prove to have utility for a small window of cancers; it is just that the way that we cover that in the media is so over the top, and the coverage does not ask the right questions.'

"'At the other end of the spectrum is the media as personified by the Oprah Winfreys of the world. They invite cancer patients onto their show who say the reason they are alive is because they practice yoga and churn up green drinks in the blender every morning, when in fact those people have treatable forms of cancer with the best that medicine can offer right now.

"'At either end of the spectrum, you are doing a huge disservice to the cancer field, to patients and to the decision we make as a society about resources and what we should focus on.'"

"The Truth About Cancer is also a story of love, family life and patient-doctor relationships, Linda says. 'When theey awarded and recognised my film when there were so many other good ones in the festival, I was really overcome. It honours my husband's memory and his family. It was a magic moment.'"

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