I met Sophie Trew in Utrecht in 2014. We were at the same closing event for One World Media, an organization that has for years supported young creators and directors of documentary film, which was the reason why we were both there.
The two of us had individually received a fund from them to film a short documentary in Latin America and it was during the screening for one of them that we met. It was perhaps during this time that Sophie had just finished chemotherapy, her hair was very short and she was very thin. I remember her ease and maturity when she spoke about the subject.
We shared a taxi back to our hostel and it was then that she told me that she had been filming a documentary in Colombia and when she got back to London she started to feel unwell, symptoms she thought were a hangover from being away. Then she was diagnosed with hodgkin's lymphoma. Far from being the end, her diagnosis became the beginning to her story. And that was precisely what caught my attention: her ability to reinvent herself in the face of adversity becoming an inspiration for those living with cancer - and without it.
The next day we ran into each other again and we went to a cafe by the canal alongside other One World Media participants. It was then when she told us about Trew Talks. Sophie was planning to start a social media channel to tell her story and inspire others like her that were going through the same thing.
Sophie highlighted the lack of information available to those diagnosed with cancer. She spoke about how vulnerable she felt when the doctors told her to leave everything in their hands, and that there was nothing she could do to help her situation. No one advised her that a change in her diet, exercising, and embracing a healthy lifestyle would make the big difference during her treatment and recovery.
That was what motivated her to be proactive, she was convinced there was something she could do to make things better. It became a full-time job of researching and collecting information that helped her cope with her treatment and recovery. Sophie refused to let her illness define her and took control of her situation.
We didn't see each other after Utrecht but I started following her on social media and slowly began changing a few habits of mine based on her tips. Reading about meditating, a diet abundant in plant based food and detoxing made me change some of my daily routines and adapt to new ones. I began researching more about these things and recommending Trew Talks to my friends and family.
Since then I’d been thinking of the best way to tell Sophie’s story and it was during this time that Loubna, Victoria and I decided to start The Doc Collective and developed the idea of creating DOCCOS. A DOCCO seemed like the perfect way to tell her story: short videos each about a different theme that she talks about in her blog:
Her personal story
Tips and advice on cancer prevention by learning how to stop living inside our heads, taking responsibility over what we eat and the way in which we live and reconnecting with our mind, body and soul.
Tips on recovery.
Information about cancer, reflecting on the language used to talk about the illness. What role does social media play in shaping our perception about cancer?
Last year in February, I got back in touch with Sophie and proposed this film idea to her. We began filming the first episode of this DOCCO in April. When I returned to London, my mum was diagnosed with rectal cancer. So the production of this DOCCO became personal.
Cancer has become an epidemic that surrounds us. Unfortunately, there are alot of us that know someone close that is going through or has been through cancer. So many cases can’t be the result of chance, perhaps it's time for us to to start thinking about the causes.
At The Doc Collective we hope that her story inspires you as much as it has inspired us and that you enjoy her experience as much as we did. Thank you for your generosity and for sharing so much with us Sophie!
Watch the first episode of our Trew Talks DOCCO here: