Narrated by Dee Wallace and directed by Darla Rae, Courageous Warriors: Beauty from the Ashes is a raw, candid collection of stories from those who have been affected by breast cancer; from diagnosis to recovery, the documentary covers all aspects of the disease as told by patients, survivors, spouses, caregivers, and medical professionals.

This isn’t a documentary on breast cancer. Rather, the film is about the battles of those affected by it. Interviewees recall first learning of their diagnosis, the immediate aftermath, medical treatment and alternative therapies, and – perhaps most interestingly – survivors’ individual paths to healing and acceptance of their new bodies.

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Also explored is the broader impact cancer can have beyond the one person it afflicts. Family members and caregivers discuss the emotional and physical toll that helping loved ones battle their illness has on their own mental wellbeing, and the lack of support given to them from within the healthcare system.

Beyond the unflinching look at the ravaging impact of the disease, Courageous Warriors also celebrates the strength and enduring hope of its subjects, as they regain agency over their lives through tattoos, journaling, horse therapy, and more.  

As far as filmmaking goes, Courageous Warriors is not constructed particularly well nor with much artistic creativity, and as a documentary it veers on the thin side. However, where it succeeds is in establishing a vulnerable, emotional connection between viewer and subject, humanising the survivors and their loved ones when the disease dehumanises them.  

Courageous Warriors: Beauty from the Ashes releases February 24th.