What Chris Hennessy experienced in 2009, he wouldn't wish on anyone. He would, however, like to share it with everyone. (Published Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014)
From the moment he bought his first video camera, more than 25 years ago, Chris Hennessy says he has felt right at home behind the lens.
"I pretty much became addicted right away to telling stories with it," Chris says.
It was such a good fit for Chris, now 57 and living in San Jose, that he soon left his career as a carpeting and fabric salesman to strike out as an independent video producer.
Chris has since made his living telling the stories of other people's lives, using his talents as an amateur improv comic to infuse humor in the wedding, bar mitzvah, and corporate videos he creates.
Lately, though, Chris has been consumed with creating a film to tell his own story. One he says that millions of people could benefit from hearing.
Chris Hennessy has been an independent video producer for the past 25 years.
"This is not the story I want to tell," Chris says. "This is the story I have to tell."
The story Chris wants to share focuses on a three-week period in the late summer of 2009. After being diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer, Chris underwent major surgery to remove the tumor.
Just three weeks later, while Chris was still recovering, his wife, Betsy, went into labor three months before her due date. When Chris and Betsy's daughter, Hannah, was born she weighed 1 pound and 9 ounces.
Within a span of 3 weeks in 2009, Chris had surgery to remove his cancerous prostate, and his daughter, Hannah, was born three months premature, weighing 1 pound 9 ounces.
"Immediately I was thrust into this situation: not only did I have a life-threatening situation," Chris says, "my daughter weighed a pound and a half."
Chris says he doesn't know why, but despair and hopelessness never seemed like an option to him. He decided to tackle the situation with a sense of humor and a positive attitude.
"This was one of the most brutal times of my life," Chris recalls, "and I had people around me laughing and feeling loose and relaxed."
Chris is convinced the positive atmosphere he created helped Hannah not just survive, but grow into the thriving four-year-old that she is.
Chris is on a mission to create an inspirational film, called Touched By Hannah, that will share his belief that humor and a positive attitude helped both he, and his daughter, survive.
It is that message of the power of humor and positive thinking that Chris wants to get across with the docudrama film, Touched By Hannah, he is trying to create. Chris also hopes the film, recreating some of the darkest hours of his life, will lead people to learn more about ways to reduce the instances of prostate cancer and premature births.
Chris is now in the fund-raising stage, hoping to get the film made as quickly as possible. That is because, while Hannah is doing well, there are signs that Chris' cancer may be returning.
"Every second that I am going to be here I am going to be passionate about what I do and try to make a difference. Even if it is only another five years or 10 years."