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'I hope my gift signals the confidence I have in our students, our faculty and our university and inspires others in nursing to give' 

Nursing PhD student tackles one family's cancer journey in new film

Nursing PhD student, filmmaker and cancer survivor Mike Lang chronicled alum Brock Ramsay's experience with metastatic cancer.

Capturing life’s moments on video is part of what most of us do in this digital age. But imagine if you were conscious that every moving image would become the living legacy for your spouse and your child, soon struggling to be without you. That is the story of How to Have a Tickle Fight, a film that director Mike Lang says is not about death and dying, but about living and all its possibilities.

Lang is the co-founder of Survive & Thrive Cancer Programs,a not-for-profit organization for young adults with cancer that uses adventure expeditions, films, experiential workshops and retreats to encourage and inspire those touched by cancer to live well. He met Brock Ramsay, the focus of the film, on one such trip in 2013.

“I sensed a deep wisdom in the story of Brock, his wife Kristen and their son, Ben,” says Lang, currently a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Nursing and himself a cancer survivor. “I wanted to learn from them and thought others would benefit too.”

Ramsay, a UCalgary alum, was diagnosed in 2012 with metastatic cancer. An avid adventurer and outdoorsman, he wanted to continue to experience life as he had always done and not be overshadowed by the undeniable future. Lang followed Ramsay and his family for two years, chronicling their ups and downs in moving images and resulting in the celebratory How to Win a Tickle Fight, completed just two days before Ramsay died.

“I saw in this family that life is not either ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ but that it can be both at the same time,” explains Lang. “I think we’ve forgotten this truth in North America. I hope through Brock’s story we are all encouraged to not let our spirit die before our bodies do.”

A free screening of How to Win a Tickle Fight, sponsored by the Faculty of Nursing and the Health Humanities @ the University of Calgary (an inter-disciplinary group promoting humanities scholarship in health-care settings), takes place in the TFDL Gallery Hall on Tuesday, March 14 beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Please RSVP by March 10. Following the 50-minute film, there will be refreshments and a Q&A. Learn more about the film and register your attendance.