Every Tuesday, Chris Robinson digests and dissects (relatively) new indie animation short films. Today’s Layla Atkinson and Trunk animation serve up, Radiation, a new short aimed at kids with cancer.
The week before I started chemotherapy I was asked to attend ‘chemo classes’ with other cancer patients. The aim was to guide patients through the process and to let them know what to expect during their chemo treatments. Mine also happened to coincide with the 2011 Ottawa International Animation Festival. Racing back and forth between festival duties, CT scans, blood tests, and ‘chemo classes’ was, well, not remotely enjoyable. And while the sessions were well-intended, it’s pretty hard to sit in a class room like environment and process the information while you (and everyone else in attendance) are scared out of your fucking mind. And frankly, the classes had limited effect. While they warned about potential side effects (nails falling off, loss of hearing, nauseous) … they never really prepared you for the full onslaught of not just chemo but the effects of the drugs you had to take (include a steroid that made me Hulk-like in temperament, having to stab yourself in the stomach with a needle to fend off a low white blood cell count that chemo can cause, or nurses coming over to your home to stab you in the ass because of bouts of severe nausea) to counter the chemo side effects.
I was in my mid-40s and terrified, although those emotions remained cloistered in a stone faced Buster Keaton look that I’d learned to master over the years. People confused this with calm and stoicism when really it was shock and a fear that was so prevailing it just numbed me of expressions.
I can’t imagine what it must be like for a child to endure chemo or radiation. With so little life experience, with a not quite sense of mortality, maybe it’s not quite a terrifying for them as they enter treatment. Maybe not. I don’t know, but I actually kinda wish that in lieu of classes they’d just commissioned some animators to make some ‘What to expect when you’re expecting chemo’ videos. Something visual…and hell…I’d have appreciated something with a sense of humour. It doesn’t have to be presented as something so dark … even if its terminal… well…why not laugh on the way out the door?
So…this short…well it’s cool…it’s well done, funny, calming and about as informative as any of chemo classes I took – yet much shorter.