Doctors told this single mother she was dying at 45. She had an important mission to complete first…
(CNN) — “I had to film her death,” Frederic Lumiere says softly. “In the film, I’m behind the camera, and you can hear me crying.”
This is a man who makes documentaries for a living, who shoots World War II specials on Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge for the History Channel.
But he broke down telling Michele Baldwin’s story.
Baldwin, a 45-year-old single mother, was diagnosed with late-stage cervical cancer in 2011. Doctors gave her just a few months to live. So she decided to use the time she had left to make a difference.
Lumiere met Baldwin shortly after she returned from India, where she broke a world record paddle boarding more than 700 miles down the Ganges River to raise awareness of cervical cancer. The first time they spoke it was for hours, and the pair became instant friends. Baldwin was originally supposed to be a part of Lumiere’s documentary, “Someone You Love: The HPV Epidemic,” but her story was “too amazing and too epic,” he says.
He decided instead to use footage a freelancer cameraman Nat Stone had shot of Baldwin’s journey down the Ganges to create another documentary called “Lady Ganga.”
Cervical cancer is a highly preventable cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which has a vaccine. Yet every year more than 270,000 women die worldwide from the disease.
Baldwin passed away in February 2012. After her death, Lumiere couldn’t bring himself to work on the film.
“Any time I tried to start it, I felt incredibly inadequate. Whatever I did, it wasn’t good enough for her,” he says.
His wife finally convinced him to see a therapist, who helped him realize his grieving was normal.
As Lumiere spoke early Thursday afternoon, the number of donations on his Kickstarter page continued to climb. In less than 12 hours, his project had raised more than $12,000.
Lumiere, who has contributed to CNN iReport since 2008, hopes to have the film out by summer 2015. He is writing Baldwin’s story now “as if this is the last film I’ll ever make.”
By Jacque Wilson, CNN
Additional Updated posted on 2 November 2014
It’s more than a film now – it’s a movement…
INCREDIBLE! We made our $50,000 goal in less than 48 hours. The outpouring of support from people from all over the world is making it very clear that this is more than just a film. It’s a movement. A movement that somehow Michele knew would happen. She had such a peace when she got back from India.
It’s hard to express in words how immense the level of gratitude Mark and I are feeling. As we write this update we can see pledges to our campaign streaming in steadily. We realize that each one of you are generously entrusting your hard earned money with us so we can launch this movement.
We have no idea how many more pledges will come in, but we guarantee that every penny will go towards making sure the scope of this movement matches the support we receive.
Mark and I want Michele’s story to resonate and inspire around the Globe. Because too many children are left without mothers and too many women will never have children because of a cancer that is PREVENTABLE!
Michele’s legacy will shine in every corner of the World because of YOU. This is your movement. So please keep spreading the word if you can!!