The resilient story of colorectal cancer victim, Drew Lewis, aired on NASDAQ Tower earlier this month on iconic jumbo screens in Times Square and Grand Central Station, above bustling New York City.The man behind the lens of this Fight Colorectal Cancer video is Old Dominion University film professor, Christopher Free. With an M.F.A. in producing for cinema and television from Regent University, Free currently teaches video editing at the ODU College of Arts and Letters. Free said he accepted a teaching position at ODU because he “was aware of ODU’s excellent reputation.”According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer starts in the inner lining of the colon or rectum and grows towards the center. The symptoms are numerous and nonspecific, but are part of a deteriorating thread in cancer victims.The American Cancer Society estimates that there are currently 136,830 American citizens with colorectal cancer, and 50,310 will die from it in 2014. These staggering facts and figures have silently crept onto medical stat sheets, making colorectal cancer the third leading cause of death and diagnosis in the United States.Founded by Nancy Roach in 2006, Fight Colorectal Cancer is a growing national advocacy organization, providing a voice for individuals whom have been impacted by the cancer. Their presence has strengthened policies and has motivated innovative research.
“Fight Colorectal Cancer demands a cure for colon and rectum cancer,” vice president of programs, Anjee Davis, said on an FCC video.FCC recognizes the power of social media and uses it to educate and spread awareness. Instagram and Twitter have been essential social platforms, creating (@FightCRC) for Instagram users, and (#MarchForCRC) for Twitter to illustrate their support.The developments of professional videos have additionally been vital streams of communication. Videos that include heart-wrenching stories have collected sponsors, talented scriptwriters and filmmakers, such as Free.Free’s history in humanitarian, documentary and non-profit filmmaking has garnered him several unique experiences with rooted in stories with powerful elements, whether it’s faith-based, medical or humanitarian.
“These are also the stories that are close to my heart,” Free said.Free’s work with Fight Colorectal Cancer was produced through a personal connection. A fellow humanitarian filmmaker “threw my name in the hat for the gig,” Free said.The focus of his video was colorectal cancer victim, Drew Lewis. Lewis’s touching story attracted the attention of FCC and singer-songwriter Sheryl Crowe.
“Having been through that process, I wanted to help him and Amy [his wife] figure out what to do next. With cancer diagnosis, everyone is diagnosed. The whole family is diagnosed,” said Crowe in an FCC video.A massive collaboration between the Lewis family, Crowe and the FCC led to the production of Free’s work, a video advocating cancer awareness and screen testing’s for the disease that injected itself on a global scale when it was showcased onto the big screens, in the big city.As a filmmaker, Free has committed to a piece of advice given to him by Ohio University film professor, Thomas Hayes. “Harness the passions and demons that live inside you,” he said. Free understood that a combination of the best of you, and the worst of you define who you are.The message conveyed by FCC through Lewis story is a blending of Hayes’s advice to Free. Colorectal cancer has plagued the lives of men and women and their families but the driving determination of victims like Lewis and supporting organizations delivers hope.“It’s an honor to have the work showcased,” Free said. “Drew Lewis, who is in the commercial, lost his life to colorectal cancer, and I’m sure he would want his legacy to serve as a very loud reminder that this type of cancer is highly preventable and highly treatable. I hope this honors his legacy.”You can watch Free’s video and learn more about the cancer on the Fight Colorectal Cancer website, at www.FightColorectalCancer.org.
By Maria Creamer Contributing Writer