Lung about the film
Maja is a passionate farmer. Even at the age of 70 she proudly manages her farm on her own, never asking for help. Old habits are hard to break for Maja. Every day she drives her old and reliable tractor Evia to the dairy facility where she lifts the heavy milk containers from her trailer without the help from worker Beat. Maja’s heavy breathing and persistent cough does not distract her from her routine. After all, Evia also sometimes puffs and splutters irregularly but still manages the drives. Her daughter Sarah has just given birth to her first grandchild and Maja would very much like to visit her in the hospital. How can she leave her farm for so many hours? Determined, Maja decides to go but little does she realize how much her routine life will start to change when Evia suddenly breaks down and backpacker Luca joins the journey.
Insights: The view of a neuroscientist
Martin studied neurobiology at the ETH Zurich and did his PhD in Neuroscience at UPF Barcelona. His thesis focused on the understanding of stress and emotions and how they affect learning and behaviour. After his studies, Martin worked as media producer for the Zurich based film company PANIMAGE GmbH. In 2012, his dreams of a successful career were destroyed by a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. While in treatment, Martin decided to sign up for a triathlon despite never have practiced this sport before. Based on his personal experience, he founded MySurvivalStory.org, a non-profit initiative that documents inspiring cancer survival stories around the globe with the goal to help other patients and families to cope better with the illness and its psychological side effects.
Maja is proudly and stubbornly used to doing all the chores on the farm by herself. Even though she is clearly tired and has a persistent cough, she wants to continue living life as she has so far.
The fact that Maja is ignoring her symptoms is completely normal and something that happens to many patients. On the one hand, we do not want to think about it possibly being something serious and, on the other hand, we do not want to admit that we have a problem.
Even though Maja’s daughter, Beat and Luca offer to help Maja with some of her daily chores and problems, Maja finds excuses and rejects their help.
What we are seeing here with Maja is a classic phenomenon in those who are affected. While we are happy to help others, we often find it difficult to accept help ourselves.Accepting help is something that needs to be learned, which is not just difficult for Maja, but for many patients. They confuse showing strength with being strong. True strength, however, lies in recognising one’s weaknesses and precisely addressing them. But that requires quite a bit of courage.
Maja has never told her daughter about her diagnosis.
Maja is probably thinking that she can protect her environment through her behaviour. However, the ‘exclusion’ of one’s environment often results in exactly the opposite. Daring to talk honestly and openly with others is not always easy, but essential to making sure we understand each other better.
A turning point comes when Luca reminds Maja that strength lies in trusting others. Maja decides to take backpacker Luca with her on the tractor and lets him drive when she is too weak.
A wonderful scenario where Maja takes the first step towards selfempowerment: She accepts her situation. Though acceptance must not be confused with resignation here. Acceptance means not giving up. Acceptance means taking a conscious decision to accept the situation as it is and make the best of it.