Penn Medicine News Blog

August 28, 2014 // By Steve Graff // Comments

Cancer Patient Shows Us Radiation Therapy through a Different Lens

Cancer // Patient Stories

Thomas Ashley, a seasoned Philadelphia filmmaker, has a message for anyone dealing with a cancer diagnosis and the prospect of undergoing radiation therapy: It's not as scary as it seems. He's telling his story in the form of a new video he produced that documents his own experience as a patient undergoing treatment in Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.

For about four and half minutes, Ashely, who was diagnosed with head and neck cancer last year and treated at the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, takes us through that first day to the end of his treatment: from filling out forms to getting fitted for his mask (“Like a warm facial…it felt great!”) to the actual treatments—the camera angles make you feel like you are heading into the treatment bays with him. And the music playing over it makes for a nice touch.

The video—which has over 100,000 views on Vimeo and over 6,000 views Facebook—actually started out as a way to share the experience with his family, but it quickly morphed into something much more.  “I was surprised that the video took off like it did,” said Ashley, who is also the CEO of a Netflix-type of on-demand movie service. “But it’s been great. Doctors and patients were contacting me telling me how helpful it was to them.”

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