Emerging Horizons, Part Two. Harmony’s Story: Answering the Big Question


  • Dr. Michael J Lang University of Calgary
  • Dr. Catherine M Laing University of Calgary, Faculty of Nursing




This second installment of the Emerging Horizons series explores Harmony’s digital storytelling (DST) experience (please see the introductory editorial to the series, Crafting Meaning, Cultivating Understanding, to access the film). In this article I lean on the philosophy of Paul Ricœur to suggest that 1) the metaphorical possibilities of DST could enable Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer survivors to come to a deeper understanding of their own cancer experiences and 2) the process of “emplotment” in the creation of a digital story has the power to transform the random and coincidental, pre-narrative experience of cancer into a meaningful whole. I conclude by discussing how attaching meaning to, and learning from, an otherwise meaningless cancer experience through the DST process, can help AYA cancer survivors construct their own answer to the “big question” of cancer in young adulthood.

Author Biographies

Dr. Michael J Lang, University of Calgary

Dr. Mike Lang is a health researcher, filmmaker, and Level 3 facilitator with Common Language Digital Storytelling. He has directed and produced five feature-length documentaries and three web series about the human health experience, in addition to publishing academic research articles and facilitating the creation of over 800 digital stories with a diverse cross-section of patients, family caregivers, and healthcare professionals. Mike’s professional and research focus is on using digital storytelling and documentary filmmaking in education, advocacy, research, and a therapeutic capacity within healthcare and wellness contexts. Connect with him on all socials @mikelangstories or via www.mikelangstories.com or commonlanguagedst.org.

Dr. Catherine M Laing, University of Calgary, Faculty of Nursing

Catherine M Laing is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs. She was Michael's PhD supervisor and has conducted her own prior studies in the area of digital storytelling in oncology.