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Documentary on Ewing's cancer screened in Labrador West

From left, producer Brad Dillon, Gail Hodge, director of Eastern Development with Ewing's cancer foundation of Canada, and producer Josh Bingle.
From left, producer Brad Dillon, Gail Hodge, director of Eastern Development with Ewing's cancer foundation of Canada, and producer Josh Bingle.

LAB WEST - A documentary about a little known cancer, Ewing's Sarcoma, made its debut September 7 at the Labrador West Arts and Culture Centre.

The documentary was produced by Brad Dillon and Josh Bingle of Labrador City, along with Danny Bailey of Kitchener Ontario, an experienced filmmaker.

It came about as a project from the Ewing's Cancer Foundation of Canada. Dillon's mother-in-law Gail Hodge is the foundations director of eastern development.

Hodge became involved with the foundation when she went looking for information about the disease that her son was diagnosed with. Her son is a survivor, but the founders of the foundation Tina and Bernie Pernica lost their son to the disease. Little was known about Ewing's, so they decided to embark upon a project of awareness and education about the disease.

“At a brainstorming session Brad and Josh put forward the idea of a documentary and it just blossomed from there. We had about 150 people turn out for the event, which is amazing,” Hodge told the Aurora.

The documentary takes viewers through information about the disease, how difficult it can be to diagnose, why early detection is important, and why it's important to take a closer look if people are complaining about pain or discomfort that can easily be brushed off as a sports injury or growing pains.

The documentary becomes extremely powerful when it turns to personal stories of people who have been affected. Families, parents, and those who were diagnosed. Not all the stories have a happy ending; there are survivors, and those who did not. But the essence of the story shows what it's like for people and families who are diagnosed and must go through the ordeal.

However, it's not all negative, the documentary shows the increase in the number of survivors, and the fact that more research projects are underway.

Before the screening Hodge, as well as producers Brad Dillon and Josh Bingle took to the stage to talk about Ewing's, and their own personal experiences and involvement related to the disease and the documentary.

“Both I and Josh were humbled by the people we met and how open they were with us,” Dillon said. "Then we were humbled again to see this huge turnout for the screening.”

Dillon told the Aurora there were friends and family, but also a lot of people who were interested in this and in learning more and helping raise awareness.

Audience members experienced mixed emotions throughout the evening as the testimony at times lifted spirits, and at others caused a few tears to flow.

Applause resounded throughout the hall as the documentary ended and the audience raised to its feet to acknowledge the work.

Following the screening, a reception gave the audience a chance to meet with the producers, Brad Dillon and Josh Bingle with Gail Hodge.

"Josh and myself were pleased so many people stayed to speak with us about the documentary and what it was like to make it," Dillon said.

Gail Hodge says the initial response to the documentary is very encouraging.

“We did this to raise awareness, educate and show what's being done in the field of research,” she told the Aurora.

“Now we hope people will use this information to go an extra step, to advocate for young people if things don't seem normal after the pain or illness doesn't seem to go away. One person who was a survivor was misdiagnosed for almost three years.”

 The screening has shown great interest in its next showing in St. Johns, with 220 people already booked to attend.

"After the screenings the real work begins," Hodge explained.

The documentary will be offered free of charge to people who deal with young people, schools, sports teams, chiropractors , family physicians, anybody who can help make a difference .

"I am optimistic this documentary will make a difference, it's a great first step," said Hodge.

Hodge also acknowledged the support and assistance of the volunteers who helped with the planning and showing of the event in Labrador City.

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