Rappahannock documentary maker uncovers ‘astounding’ fact about mammogram radiation
When Rappahannock resident Megan Smith’s husband passed away from cancer — and then three of her friends died from breast cancer in as many years — she knew she wanted to do something to change the paradigm of a cancer “cure” being defined as a mere five years.
The result is a short documentary film — “bOObs: The War on Women’s Breasts” — that will make its local premiere on Saturday, May 11, at 5 p.m. at the Little Washington Theatre. Following the 27-minute screening there will be an audience Q&A with the filmmaker.
The documentary is about breast cancer screening, according to Smith, who resides in the town of Washington.
“I was editing a larger film on non-conventional cancer therapies when I noticed a large part was on breast cancer screening,” she tells the Rappahannock News. “So I put ‘A New Standard of Care’ aside and made this short documentary, my first film to direct and produce.”
Better yet, Smith is now finalizing a distribution agreement with a company out of Los Angeles that asked her to “expand the short doc into a feature that will be at least 60 minutes in length.”
“I’m glad to have the opportunity to expand the film, as some of the facts are, quite frankly, hard to believe,” she says. “The expanded version will contain the medical literature corroborating what’s said in the interviews, as well as an astounding fact about mammogram radiation I just recently uncovered.”
Featured in the documentary is a former top official in the battle against cancer, who was more forthcoming than Smith originally imagined.
“I was very fortunate to interview Dr. Otis Brawley, former chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, who gave a frank depiction of the truth behind and harms surrounding mammograms — much of which women sadly don’t have a clue.
“He lends much credibility to the film,” she says of the onetime ACS officer.
Smith’s husband, Proctor Jones, died less than a year after being diagnosed with cancer. She believes the chemotherapy he received was so overpowering that it debilitated him, inhibiting his body’s natural ability to fight the cancer.
So she took her grief and turned it into brave, inspirational projects that can educate and perhaps provide hope for the millions of people who are facing a cancer diagnosis. She not only wants to help individuals, she hopes to change the way the medical field approaches disease. Smith feels strongly that when practitioners are devising an individual’s plan of care, a person’s entire body, mind, and spirit must be taken into consideration.
The longer documentary she alluded to regarding the current standard of care remains a work in progress, but will hopefully debut by late 2019. Two local residents are assisting Smith: Roger Piantadosi, the former editor of the Rappahannock News, is her contributing editor and John M. Kirchner her cinematographer.
The shorter documentary to be screened May 11 already has had or will have initial premieres from Montana to Norway to London, garnering juried documentary awards in the process, including in New York City.
If Megan Smith’s name otherwise rings bells, she and her sister, Debi, make up the musical act “The Smith Sisters,” releasing five albums and touring together since the 1980s.
— Veronika Benson contributed to this report