What a difference a year makes for this 21-year-old musician. When she turned 20, in fact on the actual day she turned 20, she had a biopsy that showed she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Four to six months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation followed at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence. “Since I was older, I made
friends with the nurses and volunteers. Everything was really colorful and kid-friendly,” says the University of Rhode Island student. “I would sit at these little tables and make crafts with the children. It was actually quite funny.“
Ana was neutropenic, which means she had a weak immune system. At the end of each chemo cycle, she would end up in the hospital, staying anywhere from one to three weeks. She took the treatments in stride.
Because my cancer was not terminal, and 100 percent curable, there wasn’t that much stress around the situation,” she confides.
Ana, an art major, wanted to complete her first course in film. “I was so sick – literally by the time I set the 16mm camera and the lighting, I was exhausted and couldn’t do anymore. I had to do everything in tiny pieces. It took me months to complete.”
Although Ana says her 5-minute documentary about her illness is a bit rough, she’s pleased with the feel of the movie. “I wanted it to be like a scrapbook and just have moments piled together like the viewer was looking at my journal.”
Ana provides the documentary’s background music, playing the guitar and singing an Adele song called Crazy for You. (You can hear more of Ana’s music on her MySpace page.
The documentary was screened at URI and at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, Mass. where her film media instructor Keith Brown took Ana and some of her classmates. This month, the documentary was re-screened at the theater, chosen as one of The Best of Open Screen 2009 in short films.
“Now especially that I’m better, although the bad parts were bad, I remember the good parts the most, and as weird as it sounds, I have fond memories of the experience,” the URI student says. “I learned not to take anything for granted and learned to appreciate simple things like walking outside and running. I used to be dramatic about trivial things, but now I have a much calmer personality.”