"The Connection" screens at Gallagher

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Courtesy of Shannon Harvey

In a still from Shannon Harvey’s 2014 documentary, ʺThe Connection,ʺ a woman meditates by the seaside. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Harvey sought methods of integrative medicine as a potential cure.

“The Connection” is an independent documentary that brings to light how powerful the mind can be when it comes to curing detrimental diseases. The documentary had its Tucson premiere last night in the Student Union Memorial Center’s Gallagher Theater.

Integrative medicine is a field of medical research focusing on how the mind and body intertwine with one another. Conventional treatments involving medications, operations and procedures, as well as alternative methods, have been important in managing illnesses, but advancements in integrative medicine are also proving to be an essential part of the health care process.

“The Connection” is directed and produced by Shannon Harvey, an Australian filmmaker and journalist who was diagnosed with Lupus at age 24. Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system becomes hyperactive and destroys healthy tissue, causing damage to skin, joints and organs.

“Although my doctors meant the best for me, none of them could offer me a cause or a cure,” Harvey said. “There was one thing I did know — when I was stressed, my symptoms were worse — and as a journalist, I started asking questions.” Harvey searched the globe for world-leading experts in the study of integrative medicine and learned as much as she could about the connection between the body and the mind and what it could mean for her situation.

As she began utilizing the advice the experts had given her, Harvey noticed that her condition improved greatly.

“I no longer take medication, and I haven’t seen a doctor for my autoimmune disease in years,” Harvey said.

Wanting to spread the knowledge that she gathered and help others in similar situations, Harvey began working on the documentary. After three years of production and a delay after Harvey became pregnant, the documentary launched its world tour earlier this month.

Featuring a background of the connection between the mind and body, experts sharing their work and research and success stories from patients who have been cured of disease through integrative medicine, “The Connection” is the film that Harvey “wanted to see when [she] got sick.”

Two members of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Esther Sternberg, are both featured as experts in “The Connection,” and each has an extensive background in integrative medicine research.

“Whenever you give a treatment and there’s a positive response, it’s impossible to know how much of that response is due to the direct effect of the treatment and how much is an indirect effect that is mediated by the mind,” says Weil, the founder and director of AzCIM, in the documentary.

A graduate of Harvard University, Weil has written many books on medical research, been named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2005 and been an extremely important force in the world of integrative medicine.

Sternberg is a physician, medical researcher, professor and author. She is a research director at AzCIM and a director at The University of Arizona Institute on Place and Wellbeing, has written two books about her findings in the integrated medical field and created and hosted a Public Broadcasting Service television special on the topic.

Sternberg said she loves helping others through her work and making a difference in other people’s lives. When asked why she does what she does, she said, “To help people. To change the landscape of health and wellbeing ... and to make a difference in the health of our community, nation and world.”

The only screening of “The Connection” in Tucson took place last night at Gallagher Theater, with the screening also functioning as a fundraiser for AzCIM. The film is continuing its tour in New York and London and had sold out showings in both of the premieres in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.

The documentary will be available for purchase starting on Oct. 15. _______________

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