A Yorkshire-based project which aims to allow cancer patients to share their experiences of illness in a creative and innovative way has been celebrating its 10th birthday in style, throwing a birthday party at the Leeds Royal Armouries earlier this year.
JTV cancer support, previously known as Jimmy Teens TV, was founded in 2005 and initially allowed young cancer patients from Leeds to film, document and animate their feelings or experiences with cancer. The project was founded by Mark Wilkinson, a film maker who had previously made a film entitled 'To Courtney with Love', which was made for a young patient called Becky, who wanted to leave a legacy for her daughter for after she passed away from her illness. It was from here that JTV cancer support was born, and has since grown to a worldwide scale.
While originally the project was Leeds-based, a website was soon built and it went nationwide. Currently, JTV has over 560 film makers in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada and Europe. As well as various regions. the website also has films broken up into categories of different cancer types or topic of film (such as hair loss or relationships).
I have been a film maker for JTV cancer support for around 18 months, and feel very fortunate to have been offered this platform to share my experiences, feelings and hardest emotions with people who genuinely understand. The project has allowed me to feel as though there was meaning behind my illness and knowing that my struggles have helped other people makes it feel worth it. It is a truthful, raw and shows the reality of cancer, through the good times and the hard times.
In February, cancer patients and film makers from around the country joined the JTV team in celebrating the milestone of the project's 10th birthday in Leeds. It was a night to catch-up, dance, be merry and reminisce over the last 10 years. While it was an amazing night for the team and film makers, our thoughts were never far away from members of the JTV 'family' that are no longer with us. What makes the website extra special is that it becomes a legacy for the people who have passed, as their videos can still be viewed by friends and loved ones; something that I personally find very special, as I am still able to hear their voices and remember them.
However JTV is not just a project and a platform for patients, but a family and a support system, and I personally feel very fortunate to know the people involved. The recognition they deserve is indescribable, but if you don't just take the word of a single person writing from behind a computer screen, then go to www.jtvcancersupport.com and find out for yourselves.
If you are a young cancer patient, or know one, then tell them about the project and urge them to browse through videos because I can tell you from first hand experience that they bring you out of the isolation that hospital can bring. We want to make sure this project reaches everyone that could benefit from it.
I want to thank you Mark, thank you for creating such an amazing project. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.