“Cowboy. Rebel. Survivor. Grandmother. You’ll never forget meeting Isla.”
And Marion is pretty memorable too. The first-time director of Isla’s Way, a cathartic documentary set to premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival, Marion Pilowsky is living proof that the a person with Crohn’s can do anything.
“As someone living with Crohn’s, you become used to dealing with the inevitable symptoms of pain and shattering fatigue,” she says. “Like many people, I was diagnosed after years of obstructions and illness, and two emergency surgeries. During the filming I had my biggest surgery of all, a full ileum resection. Because it was planned, I was able to schedule the operation during a lull in the filming, but also it was weirdly terrifying because unlike the previous interventions … it was planned!
“In the beginning I used to feel incredibly downhearted if I had relapses and hospital ED visits but gradually I realised that everyone has something! And Crohn’s was my something. So over time I became quite positive and very grateful that I had access to such wonderful care. My doctors and many of the nurses were so kind, so in the end how could I be anything other than grateful? That attitude shift helped my recovery times and definitely my mental health.”
“There were also many other younger people I met along the way with much worse symptoms than mine. They were very inspiring to me. Crohn’s taught me that everyone has struggled, and there are so many extraordinary people living ordinary lives amongst us.”
“Isla Roberts, the subject of my documentary is surely one of those people. I hope that people will be inspired by Isla’s story and give themselves permission to take risks or do things they didn’t think were possible. Crohn’s disease is often invisible, and many people were shocked when I said I had to have an operation, but those ‘hiccups’ are all part of managing the illness. We all cope with things differently and my way of coping is to try and enjoy my work as much as I can, and to tell stories that might make us all feel a little bit better in this tough old world.”
Isla’s Way is in cinemas from November 9th.