There are small moments in life with cancer that many people don’t see—losing a sense of taste, or losing bladder control—but a new web series, “Homesick,” brings those moments to light with compassion and humor.
An American moves to London for graduate school and shares a house with a young mother, newly diagnosed with cancer, and her nine-year-old daughter. In the six short scenes that make up the series, they adapt awkwardly to life together from the initial revelation of cancer to the young girl’s antics. And each of these situations was inspired by real life events.
When a former co-worker told Pat Giguere about an open room in London, where he was moving for a Master’s degree at the London Film School, he was set up for much more than a place to sleep. His host, Kiren Lall, discovered she had breast cancer shortly after Pat moved in, and her daughter, Elise Lall-Rothera, relentlessly (and hilariously) bullied Pat since his arrival on their doorstep. Over the course of his stay, Pat not only gained an extended family (he refers to Kiren and Elise as his “London family”), but also found inspiration for a web series.
Pat teamed up with fellow London Film School student Benjamin Dujardin to co-write and co-direct “Homesick,” in which he, Kiren, and Elise would play versions of themselves—in their own home. It was a stressful shooting schedule—during the week of filming, another housemate, Penny Edwards, was herself battling her last days with cancer—but these housemates were determined to see it through. Kiren wanted people to see the sides of cancer that many people wouldn’t know, like her battle with weight gain rather than weight loss. Elise embraced her role as Pat’s tormentor and became the star of the series. Finally, they all wanted to raise money to combat cancer.
Pat came across Cancer Research Institute (CRI) through our Better Business Bureau and Charity Watchdog ratings, and was impressed with not only our enthusiasm to find cures, but also the transparency and accountability to our donors. Pat, Kiren, and Elise could rest assured that the money generated by the series would go to lifesaving cancer immunotherapy research.
In fact, the experience has given Pat a new sense of purpose in his filmmaking. His next project follows the life of a man struggling with Parkinson’s disease, which, like cancer, has affected his family. He wants to work on projects that have the ability to enlighten people on the potential for better treatments and cures. He is also, of course, planning a trip back to London to see Kiren and Elise soon. Kiren, now in remission, plans to open a restaurant in the near future.
“Homesick” the series is also thriving; it was selected for this year’s Los Angeles Web Series Festival, and Pat and Elise are nominated for Best Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series respectively. If given the opportunity, the crew would be excited to do a second season of the series. Pat and Benjamin already have material and would love to get the chance to film again.
In the meantime, you can join over 20,000 others in watching the show on YouTube and raising money for CRI. The YouTube channel's profits will be gifted as a donation to us, and an additional fundraising page on our website has already accumulated over $1,500. The more the show is watched, and views are generated, the more help we receive to support scientists, health care professionals, and patients in our pursuit of a future immune to cancer.