‘My Quarter-Life Cancer’—from treatment to remission


Courtesy Touchvision

“My Quarter-Life Cancer” is a documentary about being a young person dealing with a cancer diagnosis, said alumna Brianna Wellen, the subject of the film.


Being a recent college graduate and trying to build a career worries most young people, but having a documentary made about one’s cancer diagnosis is not the route most people would choose while handling everything else.

Brianna Wellen, a 2012 journalism alumna and former editor-in-chief of The Chronicle, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in April, and on Dec. 8, the documentary “My Quarter-Life Cancer” came out detailing her six-month journey.

TouchVision, a Chicago-based programming service, signed on to produce the documentary after Jessica Galliart—a TouchVision digital managing editor, 2009 journalism alumna and a former editor-in chief of The Chronicle—pitched the idea. She coproduced the film with Kerri Pang, TouchVision producer and editor.

“I heard through the grapevine that [Wellen] was sick, and I started looking at everything she was doing to tackle this big thing ahead of her,” Galliart said. “I wanted to hear more of her story, and she seemed interested in letting us follow her around for six months with a camera.”

The documentary contains three parts and runs about a half hour, Galliart said.

“[Wellen] is a very intriguing, intelligent, thoughtful young woman, and I couldn’t imagine doing a documentary like this on anyone else,” Galliart said. “She’s a journalist, and I think she was eager to tell her own story.”

Galliart said the documentary shows Wellen going through chemotherapy, dealing with financial problems and talking about the emotional and physical strain she was going through.

“I was really open with them, and I kind of forgot that it was all going to be a movie everyone can watch,” Wellen said. “People are going to learn a lot about me.”

Wellen said the filming was a form of therapy, and it helped her talk through some of her issues.

“It made me think about everything I was going through in a different way than if I was doing it on my own,” Wellen said.

Wellen said her family and friends helped her through the diagnosis, especially her younger sister, Madeline, who moved in with her. She added that she does not think she could have handled everything without her sister.

“[Brianna] doesn’t really talk about things much, so I think it has been helpful to talk to someone about everything that’s been happening and to process it,” said Madeline Wellen, a freshman art & art history major. “It’s been tough for her to rewatch it, but during the process, it really helped her.”

Madeline said the documentary will help other young people who have been diagnosed with a malignancy because her sister normalizes having cancer, and people have reached out recently to thank her for allowing for the film to be made.

“I think for other people who are young and going through that, [the documentary will] make them not throw a pity party for themselves,” Madeline said.

Brianna Wellen said she has been in remission since Oct. 27.

Her sister said since being diagnosed, going through treatments and finding out she was in remission, Brianna has become a more confident person.

“It’s going to be so interesting to watch [the documentary] because I feel so great now, and I definitely am recovering really well,” Brianna Wellen said. “To revisit the times I wasn’t feeling so good is going to be interesting.”

“My Quarter-Life Cancer” is available at TouchVision.com.