Saffron Cassaday directed her first documentary feature film called Cyber-Seniors in 2014. The film followed a group of senior citizens as they learned about the internet from teenage mentors and the connections made both on and offline. The film has been broadcast in 40 countries including on PBS, Netflix and CBC in North America. Cyber-Seniors screening events were supported by over 900 partners including AARP Foundation, Best Buy Foundation, BlueCross BlueShield Mn, and hundreds of schools, universities, and libraries.

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I want to start this reflection by thanking our guest, Saffron, for sharing her personal journey with the world. So many people suffer with their disease in silence, and it is never easy to open your entire self up to others so that may learn from your experience, share in your suffering, and rejoice in your triumphs. Saffron gave us a window into her world and what it means to live with a disease like UC. And perhaps by doing so, she will provide some hope and comfort to some of the 1 million people, in the US alone, who also live with this disease.

She also gave us a new perspective on our own biases and how afraid we are of the unfamiliar and unspoken. It’s so easy to discount the lived experience of an individual when you are trained to trust the science created by the many. An N of 1 doesn't make for good science, but it doesn’t mean that a person's experience and perspectives aren’t valid. This is one of the great challenges of those who practice medicine. I fully believe that the people who tried to dissuade Saffron from seeking “alternative” treatment did so because of genuine concern for her safety, but in an attempt to protect those we care for from further disappointment and harm, are we also respecting individual autonomy and making sure that we validate their lived experience?

Saffron is a true maven. Someone who is willing to take the first steps down an untrodden path and then share their journey with others so that their journey may be easier. As Bon said in this week’s episode, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a Designer Shit documentary for every chronic disease?

Oh! BTW…I got to watch the screener of Designer Shit so here’s my extremely novice and totally unbiased review:

Designer Shit is the shit! If you like this show, you’ll definitely like the documentary. There is something there for everyone. Want a great human story? Want to learn how to be your own healthcare advocate? Want to learn how to be a supportive partner for someone with a chronic disease? Want to geek out about the gut microbiome? Want a primer on how to communicate heavy health topics in a fun and easy-to-understand way? Like poop jokes? Designer Shit has it all! This is a documentary about life, with all of its ups, downs, worries, and laughs. Saffron’s authenticity shines throughout in how she handles her shitty situation and it somehow makes our own challenges seem a little less insurmountable. Saffron didn’t have to share it all, but we’re glad she did.

Written by Rob Pugliese

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