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Documentary features 20 cancer survivors

CASSIE TOMLIN/Arizona Daily Wildcat
David Horner, with his dog Roxy and his skateboard, has survived testicular and brain cancer and will be featured in a KUAT documentary airing tonight.
By Anthony D. Ávila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, February 18, 2005
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When David Horner, a pharmacology Ph.D. student, was finishing his chemotherapy treatments for testicular cancer last summer, he did not imagine he'd be strutting down the runway in a fashion show.

Horner is one of 20 cancer patients who participated in the fifth annual fashion show created for cancer survivors to celebrate their lives, said Cathy Parsons, a registered nurse with the Southern Arizona Oncology Nursing Society, which organized the show.

The show on Oct. 2 is featured in the documentary "A Show of Courage," which will premiere on KUAT-TV tonight at 9 and will repeat on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The hourlong documentary shows the struggles and survival of 20 cancer patients in Tucson, ranging from a 69-year-old cancer patient to 26–year-old Horner.

Horner was approached by Parsons in June to participate in the fashion show and thought, "Why not? It'll be fun," he said.

"A Show of Courage," produced by Martín Rubio, KUAT senior videographer, and Tom Kleespie, KUAT producer, was intended to be a keepsake for the patients, but the producers realized the patients' stories warranted more exposure, Kleespie said.

The documentary follows seven people from April to October through their chemotherapy treatments.

The patients can be seen in their homes, with their families and finally on the runway in front of 600 people at The Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa, 3800 E. Sunrise Drive, dancing to songs by Sheryl Crow, the Bee Gees and Pink.

The show was much fancier than Horner expected, but he said it was a lot of fun getting to know the other patients and hearing everyone's stories.

However, a few weeks after the fashion show, cancer spread to Horner's head and he had to have brain surgery and begin radiation.

"It's been long," Horner said about the radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Cancer is a relevant issue for students because they are still at risk for cancer, Horner said. Testicular cancer is most common among males between 15 and 45, according to the American Cancer Society Web site.

Horner, who said his faith helps him to get through the treatment, said he wants students to appreciate what they have, and most importantly, enjoy their health.

"It's not about how long you live, but how you live it," Horner said.

Kleespie and Rubio, the co-producers, agreed they received as much from the documentary as they put into it.

"It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done," Kleespie said.

Kleespie said after "A Show of Courage" airs, he and Rubio will discuss the possibility of making a similar documentary.

"Unfortunately, there won't be a shortage of stories of courage because of how much cancer is growing," Kleespie said.

The producers were also aided by the help of UA students like Rebecca Skeels, a media arts junior and member of the KUAT student crew.

Skeels volunteered to help with filming on the day of the fashion show along with four or five other students. After meeting the patients, Skeels said it was good to see them celebrating afterward.

Though she doesn't know too many people who have cancer, Skeels said just seeing people who are survivors is inspirational.

"I think (the documentary) will move anyone whether they have been affected by cancer or not," Skeels said.

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