Emerging Horizons, Part Three. Kelsey’s Story: Breaking Cancer’s Grasp





This third installment of the Emerging Horizons series explores Kelsey’s digital storytelling (DST) experience (please see the introductory editorial, Crafting Meaning, Cultivating Understanding, to access the documentary film on which the series is based). In addition to providing a compelling exploration of a relatively common occurrence of Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer survivors, delayed diagnosis, Kelsey’s involvement in the film illustrated the potential for DST to help participants explore, name, and represent their inner emotional experience. Her storyline illuminated how difficult it can be for AYAs to both understand their “true feelings” and share them with others in a way that moves beyond a surface level, “hashtag” description of emotion (e.g. #sad). I (Lang) conclude by discussing how the three primary modes of narrative engagement in the DST process (external, internal, and reflexive) could help AYAs cultivate a deeper understanding of their emotional cancer experiences, and in doing so, break cancer’s grasp on their life, by grasping it instead.

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 four 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.