By Casey Peacock, PNT Staff Writer
Cancer survivor Kevin Gardels is working to turn his experience with cancer into one that will help others struggling with the disease.
“It changes your outlook if you have some kind of hope and empathy,” Gardels said.
Gardels, who is pursuing a masters degree in religion at Eastern New Mexico University, has been battling a rare form of cancer, myelofibrosis, since his diagnosis in July of 2002.
“I want to teach what I’ve learned,” Gardels said.
As an outlet to deal with his experience, Gardels has written a book. Now he is taking the process one step further and filming a documentary on cancer and those it affects for his master’s thesis, Gardels said.
“I didn’t really want it to be about me, I want it to be about the hope of survivors,” Gardels said of the documentary.
Gardels describes his battle with cancer as a process that can be disheartening. Over the course of his diagnosis and treatment, he has lost over 100 pounds, has become emaciated and fatigued from the chemotherapy. He gained hope from a woman who shared her story of battling the disease, something that encouraged Gardels to continue his fight with cancer, he said.
“From one human being to another, she told her story. If you tell the story and people realize you can get through it, it provides hope,” Gardels said.
Portales resident Angela Lovato has recently learned what going through the cancer process is. Her mom was recently diagnosed with bone marrow cancer and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments, Lovato said.
“It takes a lot of faith, family and friends to get through,” Lovato said.
Lovato feels by having something such as a documentary on cancer would be a big help for families and those that are dealing with the disease. In time, Lovato has plans to participate in the documentary and share her family’s story to help others, she said.
“It’s pretty neat when you can help somebody, it changes your life,” Lovato said.
Gardels is hoping that by producing the documentary, it will provide hope and help for others, and an outlet for others to share the cancer experience, he said.
“Having somebody to talk to or people that know about it helps. It gives you hope to know that others are going through it. If they are a survivor they understand it and want to get their story out,” Gardels said.
Gardels is seeking cancer survivors, family members and caregivers to participate in the documentary who would like to share their experiences with others. When filming, Gardels would like to do it in a non-invasive manner that makes everyone involved feel comfortable, he said.
“It’s a delicate matter,” Gardels said.
If you are interested in being a part of the documentary or would like more information or just someone to talk to about the cancer experience, Gardels may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org