Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Cancer Documentary Earns Emmy Nomination

“A Journey Through Breast Cancer” is nominated for an Emmy by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Pacific Southwest Region

Cancer Documentary Earns Emmy Nomination

Noelle and Grant Deane meet with Anne Wallace, MD in "A Journey Through Breast Cancer."

by By Gabriela Romero

June 7, 2021

Using decades worth of research on communication and cancer by Dr. Wayne Beach of the SDSU School of Communication, “A Journey Through Breast Cancer,” showcases the communication between patients, family members, and medical teams when managing cancer over time, and has been nominated for a 2021 Emmy Award.

In collaboration with SDSU’s Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Dr. Tim Powell, the documentary follows breast cancer patient Noelle Deane and her husband Grant through every step of the couple’s journey – from diagnosis through surgery, chemotherapy, breast reconstruction, and on to remission.

In weaving together social sciences, humanities, medicine, and the arts, this film increases public awareness and stimulates innovative education about the need for enhanced communication when facing illness and disease.

Beach notes, “having the film nominated for an Emmy is an entirely new experience for me. Whenever you give your heart and soul to a long-term project such as this, it is more than rewarding to receive such recognition - especially from blind, external reviewers who hold such rigorous review standards. I am thankful because I have learned so much throughout this process, knowledge which can now be applied to whatever visions are pursued next.”

Powell says, “one of the main challenges of this film is that we, the filmmakers, went through this journey together with the patient and her family. We never knew what the outcomes would be. I believe the Emmy judges included this unique factor in their decision to recognize and honor this film.”

Also integral to the project were oncology surgeon Anne Wallace, Director of UCSD’s Comprehensive Breast Health Center, a variety of undergraduate and graduate students, medical providers (doctors, nurses, and other key team members), and administrators at both SDSU and UCSD. This project was supported by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society,

Director of the School of Communication Dr. Heather Canary says that this nomination is a significant achievement for both the professors and their schools as “they spent years putting this documentary together to connect basic health communication research with a broader public audience. We are thrilled that the courage of the patient, her spouse, and her doctor who were the subjects of this documentary are recognized with this nomination.”

Canary continues “communication research rarely gets translated into public products such as this television documentary. This documentary is an exemplar of how we can connect basic scholarly research to educate broader audiences and enhance their health-related experiences.”

Powell says “Through screenings and feedback from the KPBS broadcasts, we know that this film has a significant impact on audience members, especially families touched by cancer. However, it adds another dimension to receive significant recognition from our professional peers and colleagues of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences through this nomination.”

“This film has already been viewed and experienced by more than 30,000 persons during screenings, and on KPBS in the Southern California region. And it is now being made available for dissemination to over 500 PBS affiliate stations nationwide. “Can you imagine how many persons’ lives might be touched in meaningful ways?” Beach says.

The SDSU School of Communication is home to the Center for Communication, Health, & the Public Good, an innovative hub for investigating critical relationships between communication and health that shape the human social condition in contemporary society.

Stream the documentary on the PBS website.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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