Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Apr 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Film Issue 08

CoverImageFILMFEST08

Santa Cruzan Robin Janiszeufski Hesson of the documentary Surfin’ Thru, leads the way in our annual film issue, in which we salute the season’s most memorable celluloid players.

Editor's note: GT's annual film issue is loaded with plenty of cinematic fodder to keep you busy for quite some time. Here, we spotlight some of the locals that have been making a difference in the film world at home, beginning with ... Robin Janiszeufski Hesson, The Rising Star. (Read more film stories here.)

We don’t come into the world with a movie script that tells us what we’re supposed to do or how we’re supposed to act. But, the more conscious we become, the deeper we look within ourselves for answers, we do realize we have the extreme pleasure of casting anybody we want to be the main star in the moving picture known as our life. We can take on the lead role, but sometimes, try as we might, our “co-stars” still want to steal the show.

Robin Janiszeufski Hesson knows this all too well. For 15 years, the Santa Cruzan has had to keep a curious neighbor known as cancer from robbing her of the spotlight—not once, not twice, but three times. But at 49, even though her cancer has moved into stage 4, Janiszeufski Hesson, more fondly known as Zeuf, is nowhere close to the final credits.

For starters, she’s currently one part of a winning trifecta found in the heartwarming 24-minute documentary Surfin’ Thru, which premieres in the Santa Cruz Film Festival this week. Directed by actress-filmmaker Chloe Webb (Sid and Nancy, Tales of the City), the film chronicles the unique bond three female surfers with stage 4 cancer share with each other and the ocean. Webb, who was inspired to make the film when her friend, xxxx, was diagnosed with cancer, decided to include Zeuf in the doc after meeting the local at a 2002 Ride-A-Wave event. The end result on screen is a life-affirming, often humorous tale about three unconventional women whose seemingly insurmountable health problems only fuel them to further master the art of living.

Lean and athletic, Zeuf has been an avid surfer in the area for 18 years. She says surfing has been one her strongest tools in keeping the cancer at bay.

“What I love the most about surfing is the unadulterated joy I get from just being in the ocean,” she says. “It has made a rough day smooth, a good day fantastic, and sometimes just one wave, well-surfed, takes my mind to the Zen place needed with a great smile to accompany.

“Having cancer, I know well how difficult it is to have the desire to stay strong. Surfing is that for me. It feeds my desire when I feel like I have nothing left.”

The first wave of cancer hit Zeuf in 1993. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had a mastectomy but didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy. Time passed. She had a good position as a nurse at Community Hospital in Monterey and found great support within the Santa Cruz community. Then, in 2000, the cancer had moved into the lymph nodes of her other breast. Another mastectomy followed and this time, chemotherapy entered the picture. Then came another surgery, this time to remove her ovaries because the tumor that was discovered was estrogen-receptive. The less estrogen she had, the less tumor growth would occur.

cover_RisingStarBut that second bout with cancer came at pivotal interval in 2000—she had been married to her husband just three months. “We were just starting a new life together, and our new life began with me being bald, sick and a surgical mess,” Zeuf recalls. “But he is an amazing individual. We talked about it before we got married and I was like, ‘If you want to back out, I have no issue with this because this may get way worse before it gets better.’”

Curiously, Zeuf’s husband, Richard “Frosty” Hesson, is one-time surfer of Mavericks. The couple resides in Pleasure Point with several of Hesson’s children.

Then, last year, the cancer returned. Zeuf had been doing a great deal of surfing at the time. She thought she had pulled a muscle in her chest but when she had it checked out it, she discovered she had  “a big fat tumor” on her sternum. That’s not the only place the doctors found something. There was also a tumor in the ball and socket joint of her hip. She underwent six months of radiation—not to shrink the tumor, she says, but to kill the cancer, because the tumor was in the bone.

“I was shocked. I felt like I had escaped a Stage 4 tumor—twice,” she says. “But I never had this ‘How can this be happening to me?’ moment. It was more like, “OK, the cancer is visiting again what do I need to do? And it was actually through Bikram yoga and surfing that I discovered it. It would have been a lot longer had I not been a physically active person.”

The prognosis from the doctors: three to five years. At Currently, everything is in a holding pattern. There is no new tumor growth. She receives monthly infusions that are hard-core bone strengthening medications, which keep the cancer spreading to the bones.

In between, Zeuf’s attention, much like the documentary Surfin Thru illuminates, is all about living even more consciously. To that end, a recent trip to South America proved enlightening. There, she met with a shaman whose age-old medicinal treatments made her realize there are, indeed,  “other avenues” to living with an illness.

“I leave no stone unturned, she says. “And I hope this doesn’t sound totally cliché, but now I take absolutely nothing for granted. Having a chronic, and in this case, terminal, illness, heightens your awareness of your ‘living.’  Dying is something we all know that we are going to do, so it is in our living that we make that day, a happy one.

“And I don’t mean that morbidly,” she adds. “This has made me tremendously grateful and you get a real clarity about what you want to do and what you want be about, but you also have to go into some sort of denial and then acceptance … I am planning to move through. And who knows how long I can keep this at bay, but I am planning on doing this for a long time. That is my hope and that is my will. You do some breathing … and then you keep on going …”

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Dark Magic

40 years on the movie beat in Santa Cruz
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

If you could live in Santa Cruz in any era besides now, which would you choose?

Probably the ’70s, because Santa Cruz is such a fly-your-freak-flag place. That was when free love and hippiness was in vogue. Shane Reber, Santa Cruz, Caretaker

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise