advisory board member Susan Cartsonis honored


Faculty and advisory board member Susan Cartsonis was recently honored for her accomplishments in film by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America at their 6th Annual Women of Distinction luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Susan offered this speech at the luncheon:

Thank you so much for this honor. I’m excited to be sharing this day with Lisa Greer and Amy Brenneman. While I’ve been TOLD I’m being honored as a Woman of Distinction for my accomplishments in film, if we’re being really honest here, it’s about Stan. Stan Seidel was my life partner of seventeen years, and all around great guy, who died suddenly in 2000 and way too young at 48 of the complications Crohn’s Disease. Stan’s the real reason I’m being honored. And I’m more than ok with that.

Susan Cartsonis

Susan Cartsonis

I’m proud of the role I played in helping Stan prevail over his disease to become as he always said with truth behind the joke: a “well respected member of his chosen profession”. Which was screenwriting.

Stan used to call me, his “helpmeet”, which I thought was a word he just made up until I looked it up, Googled it last night, and found it is a combination of two roots from Hebrew, one meaning “to rescue” or “to save,” and the other meaning “to be strong.” The roots merged into one word, so did their meanings.

So I’d like to share this lovely award with all of the Women and Men of Distinction and helpmeets who have been and are caretakers for people with Crohn’s and Colitis and other debilitating diseases.

Those caretakers include people here like Miriam Scharf, who was Stan’s therapist. Miriam helped him break through creative barriers so that he got to see his work on the big screen, and got to be a well respected member of his chosen profession. Also, Dr. Ed Feldman, who reassured and comforted Stan about his condition from the moment Stan arrived in L.A. and encouraged him to go on adventures around the world, even when it presented a logistical nightmare due to shipments of medications, refrigeration, and risks. Under his care in the 90’s we went to London, Paris, Milan and Florence and the South Pacific—but not to Thailand or Mexico… (for those who weren’t there, there was a big laugh here—because it’s widely known that you have to be extremely careful about travel in these and certain other countries if you are vulnerable to these diseases.)

I share this also with friends like Kevin Goetz, whose late mother had M.S. and who takes care of others with M.S. now through a foundation he established in his mother’s name. And with friends with aging parents who are dealing with the challenges of giving and getting them help.

And I share the award with those of you who are caretakers I haven’t met or I don’t know about because you quietly, even secretly take care of someone in your life.

Secrecy is a big thing with bowel disease especially in the movie business. Not very glam. When Stan died it was a huge shock to people who knew us well. That’s because Stan didn’t want anyone to know anything about it. I respected Stan’s wishes not to discuss his disease publicly —which was hard. But I did it.

As a caretaker you gain a lot of wisdom and perspective along with the feeling that you too are sick without actually BEING sick. Caretaking taught me a lot about the nature of illness and life and death.

But once someone is gone, how do you continue to care for them? Well, in my case it’s by accepting this honor, and supporting important research about what ultimately killed Stan. That’s what he would have wanted. So thanks to you all for shedding light so that Crohn’s and Colitis can get the attention and funding it so deserves. I accept this award on behalf of all of the caretakers in the audience today and beyond. Thank you.


To learn more or to make a donation to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, visit the CCFA website.


One Response to “advisory board member Susan Cartsonis honored”

  1. Robert Says:

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this post
    and the rest of the site is extremely good.

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