Facing Life’s Decisions: The Search for Truth in Alternative Medicine May 7, 2013

After learning of my mother’s cancer diagnosis in January, I went into panic mode. Pretty normal, right? As an only-child living in a foreign country thousands of miles away, I felt immediately helpless. To top it off, my mother was adamant about pursuing alternative therapy. She didn’t want any chemo or radiation. That was her final decision. Period. 

I found myself suddenly facing a big fat moral dilemma: Do I support what my mother wants simply because that’s what she wants or do I convince her to go with what science says is most effective? Moreover, what is the worth of overall happiness when facing possible death? And what is my responsibility as a daughter? Do I even have a say? Another issue, will insurance cover the alternative therapies my mother wants to pursue? And how much will this all cost? Frankly, my head was spinning!

Out of this confusion however arose the need to understand how we humans deal with decisions under extreme pressure. More importantly, I became interested in my role as ‘family member’ during this process. I believe that many people can relate to this exact problem, and so I decided to open myself up to the world and to publicly meditate on this universal dilemma through the medium of film. I am hoping for my story to be a source of help for others when dealing with stressful, scary life-threatening situations.

Tackling the world of alternative medicine is a very hairy business. There are a lot of theories out there – most of which are based on one individual’s experience. The majority of Americans want facts and figures – scientific proof that something works, a golden seal of approval if you will. Considering this fact, I was quite nervous when I began my campaign. Opening up to my network however has surprisingly given me enormous strength! The support from my friends and colleagues is humbling and powerful. I am thankful that my experience thus far has been so positive. Starting a crowdfunding campaign was possibly the best decision I could have made considering my current position.

Within the last few weeks I have talked with hundreds of people and no matter what their stance is on alternative cancer treatment, there has been a general consensus: patients should have the right to choose how they want to be treated, and this decision needs to be supported and respected by our healthcare providers. I believe that because my film’s investigation is about decision-making rather than proving what is ‘better,’ I have been able to remain in a middle-of-the-road position, which has the power to persuade even strict believers of traditional therapy into supporting my project.

For success, don’t go out there prophesizing what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ Passion is essential don’t get me wrong, but tact is also a major key to gaining support! Find an angle which hasn’t been tackled before, and get your supporters excited enough about your project so that they want to start telling others about it. Fighting for something as taboo as alternative cancer treatment can be alienating to many. I was weary when I first decided to stand by my mother’s decision, but since then I have become a real believer in the power that nutrition and detox have in helping a body heal. I am open about this fact when I am campaigning and my honesty has won me the support of many non-alternative believers. Like I already mentioned, this campaign has given me a lot of strength as well as wisdom. Even my mother has been reaping the benefits of this campaign. She is in high spirits and ready to beat this thing! And I will be there to document her journey.

Sarah Volage Bellin, Director, Filmmaker, International Crowdfunder