Upcoming Short Documentary: MADE STRONG
For my latest short documentary “Made Strong,” my team and I investigate the effect of ‘Multiple Sclerosis’ (MS) on patients and their caregivers of Hispanic origin. Specifically, diving into the impact on Latino communities (both native US citizens and immigrants) where misinformation pervades.
During my last few months researching for “Made Strong”, the team and I have met with support groups and individuals with MS, learning how they processed and persevered through this intense diagnosis and treatment. For those first diagnosed with MS, and their families, it can be a frightening and disorienting time.
Though MS can seem daunting, it is important to bring light to how treatment and being proactive can transform the trajectory of the disease.
The Primary Goal of the film is to address common misperceptions that patients and their families struggle with in the space of a complex disease, ultimately providing information and guidance essential for those living with MS. That through the disease, you still can be strong.
The film will be a fusion of documentary and experimental narrative.
Through the support of Biogen, USC Hispanic MS Registry and Immigration Health Initiative, I’m not only collaborating with a fantastic film team (Shout out to Producer Bryce Morgan , Cinematographer Casey Stolberg and Editor Monica Salazar) but with leading experts of immigrant and minority healthcare from the University of Southern California. The research team is led by Dr. Lilyana Amezcua, Neurologist, MS expert and principal investigator of the USC Hispanic MS Registry and Dr. Lihua Liu, founder of a public health initiative to promote healthy behaviors and lifestyles in immigrants (USC’s Immigrant Health Initiative -IHI). (Above is a photo from our last meeting including both the production and medical teams!).
Dr. Amezcua’s team has found that:
- Hispanics on average start with MS 2-3 years younger than their Caucasian counterparts but yet have a a longer time between first symptom and diagnosis. This can prove detrimental for a condition that needs to be addressed with early intervention and treatment.
- Hispanics with MS immigrating to the US at a later age had twice the risk of having walking difficulty due to MS compared to US-born
- It is estimated that the number of Hispanics with MS in the US will increase, given the estimates that the proportion of Hispanics in the US population will rise from 14% in 2005 to 29% by 2050.
It is exciting to be challenged to translate medicine into art, research and technicalities into human emotion. Through this connection, the complexities of MS can be more palatable and universal.