We use cookies to help us understand how you use our site, and make your experience better. To find out more read our privacy policy.




Full screen
Video quality

Low 0 MB

High 0 MB


Hero image for Titless Wonders

Titless Wonders

Television (Full Length) – 2001

The most terrible thing about breast cancer is that you can have this life-threatening disease and not feel sick.
– Jan Bolwell in The NZ Herald, 10 October 2002
I just thought 'this is it'. I knew at that moment that my life was going to change. I just knew, I hadn't had a diagnosis...but something deep inside me told me there's something here that is going to change my life. And it did.
– Dancer and choreographer Jan Bolwell on discovering a tumour in her breast
...cancer thrives in secrecy, hence the film.
– Director Gaylene Preston in an interview with Today Live's Susan Wood, 9 July 2001
...I thought 'do I really say goodbye now, or am I gonna fight this?' And thought, 'I'm not saying goodbye.'
– Interviewee Kay Larking describes a key moment from her fight with cancer
It scares the people around you. My children were really upset, you know. I don't think I'd ever been sick; I don't think they'd ever had to worry about me. It was kind of a novelty too, having your children worry about you.
– One of the breast cancer survivors interviewed
...she's a dancer, and actually it was from seeing Jan's dance, that's what made me make the film. Because Jan has choreographed a dance that tells her story through the whole journey.
– Director Gaylene Preston on dancer Jan Bolwell having inspired the film, in an interview with Today Live's Susan Wood. 9 July 2001
The only way I can reconnect with my body in some way is to dance.
– Dancer and breast cancer survivor Jan Bolwell on her relationship with her body after surgery
She didn't really wanna acknowledge it in a lot of ways. That got worse and worse too, as time went on, because she felt like even if she acknowledged it in any kind of a way, she would be giving in to it ... She didn't even like saying 'cancer.'
– Aimee Gruar on how her late mother Shirley Grace reacted to being diagnosed with cancer
I'm taking myself back into the parlousness of being on that hospital bed, being wheeled into a theatre where you are completely in the hands of other people.
– Jan Bolwell on creating her 2001 solo dance work Off My Chest, which features in the film
...I started to tell everybody. And then one day, I said to my husband, 'I can't tell another soul.' Because I was dying as far as they were concerned; I was dead. And they were going to bury me. And I wasn’t ready for this. So I'd stopped talking about it.
– Interviewee Ruth Bly on some of the reactions to her cancer diagnosis

If you liked this, you might also like...

Collection image for The Gaylene Preston Collection

The Gaylene Preston Collection

A collection full of riches, devoted to the work of Dame...

Thumbnail image for Today Live - Gaylene Preston on Titless Wonders

Today Live - Gaylene Preston on Titless Wonders

Gaylene Preston talks about Titless Wonders

Thumbnail image for NZ Story - Helena McAlpine, Living Every Moment

NZ Story - Helena McAlpine, Living Every Moment

Interview with a woman who has breast cancer

Thumbnail image for Gordon Bennett

Gordon Bennett

Interviewee Shirley Grace co-starred in this comedy short

Thumbnail image for He Oranga He Oranga - Healing Journeys

He Oranga He Oranga - Healing Journeys

Another documentary which interviews cancer survivors

Thumbnail image for Open Door - Sweet Louise

Open Door - Sweet Louise

Documentary about a breast cancer charitable trust

Thumbnail image for War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us

War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us

Another female-focused documentary from Gaylene Preston

Thumbnail image for My Name is Jane

My Name is Jane

Documentary about a woman facing death

Thumbnail image for Crisis: One Man's Fight

Crisis: One Man's Fight

Douccentary about a man battling bowel cancer

Thumbnail image for The Most Fun You Can Have Dying

The Most Fun You Can Have Dying

Feature about a young man with cancer

Thumbnail image for A Death in the Family

A Death in the Family

Acclaimed drama about a man suffering from AIDS

Thumbnail image for Strike Zone

Strike Zone

Short film made by a young director suffering from cancer

Thumbnail image for Wahine Requiem

Wahine Requiem

Director Gaylene Preston looks back at the Wahine disaster

Thumbnail image for Strongman - The Tragedy

Strongman - The Tragedy

Doco drama from this director

Thumbnail image for Haunting Douglas

Haunting Douglas

Kiwi choreographer Douglas Wright talks about illness

Thumbnail image for Mr Wrong

Mr Wrong

Early feature from director Gaylene Preston

Thumbnail image for Shirley Grace Puts Out the Washing

Shirley Grace Puts Out the Washing

A home movie of Shirley Grace by Gaylene Preston

Thumbnail image for Nuclear Horror Show Parade

Nuclear Horror Show Parade

Director Gaylene Preston captures a 1980s anti-nuclear march

Thumbnail image for Sunday - Brave Heart

Sunday - Brave Heart

The Topp Twins discuss breast cancer in 2007