Feature Video Series

Team Phillips Battles Breast Cancer

Nicole Phillips, wife of Ohio University Men’s Basketball Head Coach Saul Phillips, and their three children were floored with her breast cancer diagnosis. It came less than a year after they moved to Athens. Watch Team Phillips demonstrate how it takes an entire community to beat the odds.
For 12-year-old Jordan Phillips, her mother Nicole’s breast cancer diagnosis was a call to action. Partnering with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Jordan has used her sewing skills to raise funds and spread awareness for breast cancer across the United States.

Written Article

Cancer is a word that means many things to many people – it is simultaneously a reminder of the frailty of life and an aggressive call to action. It is a term loaded with emotion, experience, memories good and bad, and it makes for challenging subject matter. When I first met Nicole and took on the assignment of capturing her story she was newly cancer free and moving into the reconstruction phase of her recovery. She welcomed me into doctor’s appointments, physical scans and even her home during the days after her procedure. As both a writer and a videographer, it is very rare that I am able to have the level of access to the intimate moments that Nicole so generously gave me.

In between takes we talked about my experience as a young woman during my own mom’s diagnosis with breast cancer. Nicole wanted to know how I coped, how I struggled and how I felt more than a decade into her fortunate remission. This personal connection we made helped to put the entire family at ease, and resulted in a more authentic, rich story for print and online.

This was a project that I was very grateful to have both mediums to tell the story. Navigating what content was covered in my strict two-page spread word count for print is always easier when I know that the story can continue online in video form. What started as a single video merged into three – two relating to different aspects of the family’s journey through breast cancer and the third was a social media cut for promotion.

Screen shot of story above as it appears in the print magazine.
© Ohio Today magazine | Winter 2017 issue

From this undertaking I learned to approach my video storytelling with still frame and written word in mind as I captured motion, audio and interactions. I also learned the importance of compromise with your editor. My initial story only had a couple of basketball puns, but my editor liked them so well he wanted to work that theme throughout the entire story with subheads and additional references to the basketball team. While I wanted the article to center on Nicole, he helped me to understand that our readers were interested in Nicole because of who she was to the Bobcat community. This process and compromise showed me that it takes diversity of thought and an editor that will challenge your perspective in order to grow as a writer and tell stories that will resonate with your audience.

Role call: Storyboard, directing, production and editing by Hailee Tavoian. Assistant production and editing by Mallory Golski.

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