Conejo Valley film festival has special purpose. It's also a fundraiser for breast cancer prevention
Two friends who became breast cancer survivors are bringing Lunafest to Conejo Valley Thursday night.
They are two good friends who live in the Conejo Valley. The two women were brought even closer together when they were both diagnosed with the same disease. They are now both breast cancer survivors.
Within a few weeks of each other in 2019, both Heidi Hinrichs and Sarah Reines of Westlake Village were both diagnosed with breast cancer. Hinrichs says nothing prepares you for that kind of news.
"I found the fall of 2019, and I actually learned I had it two weeks after Sarah herself was diagnosed with breast cancer, so we were going through this together." said Hinrichs.
She admits it was scary, especially because she lost her mother, and a cousin to breast cancer.
"You automatically go to the worst case," said Hinrichs.
It was a double dose of bad news for Reines, because it wasn’t her first bout with cancer.
"My first diagnosis was with a form of lymphoma in 2017," said Reines. "Completely out of the blue, as did the second diagnosis with breast cancer in 2019, that's unrelated to the first cancer."
Reines underwent surgery, and chemotherapy. She responded well to the treatment, and is now undergoing hormone treatment. Her friend Heidi had surgery, but didn’t need chemotherapy. She’s also doing well with hormone treatment.
The two women are trying to make something good come out of their experiences, becoming advocates for prevention.
On Thursday night, they are hosting a mini-film festival to raise money for breast cancer prevention. Lunafest is a traveling film festival featuring women filmmakers, which helps raise money for women's causes.
It includes seven short films made by female filmmakers, as well as a feature length documentary about the origins of Wonder Woman as a superhero character.
Lunafest takes place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Agoura Hills 8 theaters. And, the women are planning another ambitious fundraiser. This summer, they want to hike to the top of Mount Shasta, in Northern California.
They have both retired from their jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, and say they are focused on family, friends, and making a difference with their lives.
"You really think about what you've done in life, who's in your life, and what you might want to change about your life as a survivor," said Hinrichs.