About Me

My photo
Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
I completed the 2016 Summer Program in the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. I received a BS Degree in Radio/TV from ASU and a MA Degree in Technical and Expository Writing from UALR. As a Cancer Survivor and a Widow, I hope I can help others through my Blog http://leslieinlittlerock.blogspot.com/ Twitter @leslieinlr and Instagram @leslieinlittlerock accounts.

Friday, September 30, 2016

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Earlier this summer, I learned about the Cancer Moonshot 2020, a new cancer research project that aims to accelerate different types of cancer treatment. I had learned a lot about the initiative in June, Cancer Immunotherapy month. I had just started my Cinematic Arts classes in the summer program at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and wasn't able to write the entry at that time. It's now September, which is also Blood Cancer Awareness Month (Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma) and I want to share some of the Cancer Moonshot 2020 findings on my blog.

As a 15-year cancer survivor, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma at age 39 on November 8, 2000 after suffering multiple symptoms, including chest pains, weight loss, fatigue and night sweats, for almost one year. Three days after I was hospitalized and received my cancer diagnosis, I began chemotherapy and three months later started radiation treatment.

You can read about my cancer treatment experience in this blog entry that appeared on LymphomaInfo.net in July 2013 - http://www.lymphomainfo.net/share/surviving-lymphoma/surviving-lymphoma-and-life-s-challenges-leslie-s-story

Family Photo Christmas Card 2000
Photo taken in November 2000, a few weeks after I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
My husband, Stewart, and I started a family tradition after the birth of our oldest daughter, Lauren, in 1993, of having an annual Christmas card photo taken and mailed to all our family and friends. In the 2000 Christmas card photo, Lauren is 7 years old and Sara is 3 years old.

Easter Day 2001
Sara (4) & Lauren (8)
and I'm wearing my
'Laura Bush" wig
Throughout my life, I can remember cancer affecting friends and family members. Friends from high school and college, co-workers and relatives. It seems that everyone has been affected in one way or another by cancer. And then came my cancer diagnosis in November 2000, eight days after I turned 39 years old. I then spent the next seven months going through cancer treatment and approximately two years recovering and gaining my strength back. I tried to maintain positive, reading as much as I could about Lymphoma, and continued to create special moments with my two daughters and husband. On May 17, 2001, I was declared 'in remission' by my Oncologist, Dr. Lawrence Mendelsohn. My husband Stewart took me to Fort Walton, Florida for a week to celebrate. After we returned from the beach, I was able to spend the summer with our two daughters, going to parks and picnics, and sometimes just staying in the house, watching videos and playing with Beanie Babies! I also discovered that I had some additional  medical issues, including digestive problems and osteoporosis. Cancer doesn't just affect the patient, it affects the whole family. I was so lucky to have the love and support of my family and friends during the time before, during and after my diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

My husband, Stewart, with our two daughters, Sara & Lauren,
on Easter Day 2001.

The Cancer Moonshot initiative will try and break the mold of traditional cancer treatment. The chemotherapy treatments will be replaced by vaccine based immunotherapy tailored to each individual. Even rare cancers like mesothelioma and lymphoma see hope with the immunotherapy treatments. Many new treatments for these cancers have seen promise with immune targeting. The following video explains about the Cancer Moonshot.

You can read more about the establishment of Cancer Moonshot, which was led by Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau Biden to brain cancer in 2015, by clicking on this link to an online article from the National Cancer Institute.

On November 8, 2016 (Election Day!) it will be 16 years since I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. I'm proud to be a cancer survivor and have volunteered for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the American Cancer Society and Race For The Cure. I've written a newsletter for the families of children fighting cancer and several blog entries for different cancer support groups.

In the years since I went into remission from cancer, my husband and I watched our two daughters grow up from little girls into kind, smart and beautiful young women. Tragically, Stewart passed away suddenly at age 52 from an undiagnosed pulmonary embolism on May 10, 2012, when I was 50 and our daughters were only 19 and 15 years old. In May 2015, my oldest daughter graduated from college and now lives and works out of state and my youngest daughter graduated from high school and is currently a sophomore in college.

Leslie, Sara and Lauren Doan
Christmas 2015

For more information about Cancer Moonshot 2020, please see the Medium page dedicated to the mission, this blog post, the Facebook page, or the Twitter feed.

Cancer Moonshot 2020 Graphic

Friday, September 9, 2016

Movie Review - Sully (2016)

Photos from IMDb

Movie Description:  The story of Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, who became a hero after gliding his plane along the water in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009, saving all of the airplane flight's 155 crew and passengers, also known as "The Miracle on the Hudson".

Release Date
:  Friday, September 9, 2016

Running Time
:  1 hour and 35 minutes

Biography and Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): 
Rated PG-13 for some peril and brief strong language.

  Clint Eastwood


Todd Komarnicki (screenplay)
Chelsey Sullenberger (based on the book "Highest Duty")
Jeffrey Zaslow (based on the book "Highest Duty")


Tom Hanks as Chesley 'Sully" Sullenberger

Aaron Eckhart as Jeff Skiles

Laura Linney as Lorraine Sullenberger

Mike O'Malley as Charles Porter

Leslie's Notes

I saw this movie last night at a special preview showing at 7 pm in Little Rock. The theater was about half full but the audience was very enthusiastic! This is my first movie review I've written since I completed the summer program at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I always watch movies with an eye for all aspects of production - costumes, lighting, sound, and camera angles - along with the acting and dialogue. But for this movie, I was especially tuned in to how much a great production it is along with being a wonderful movie. Director Clint Eastwood had the daunting task of recreating an actual event with actual people and to make it look realistic without looking fake or deceptive. The result is a very suspenseful, astonishing and factual movie that kept my interest from the very first scene to the credits, which resulted in clapping from the small but enthusiastic audience I was a member of.

While I was in California this summer I met a man who "recreates" airplane scenes for movies and television shows. He was involved in aircraft production for many years and was asked to help with a project because real airplanes can not be used, so he has a new career designing aircraft for film and television productions. I wonder if he worked on this movie. I thought the entire movie was great, from the acting to the scenes shot in New York City. I can remember when this actual event occurred, and I can remember my late husband, Stewart Doan, talking to me about it because he was able to watch the rescue process live on television at the time. I think he would have loved this movie too.