Seeking to understand & change corrupt medical practices around thyroid disease.

About Maggie Hadleigh-West
Director, Sick to Death!

Maggie Hadleigh-West, director, filmmaker, artist, Sick to Death!, documentary, STD!

Over the course of her career, Maggie Hadleigh-West has been internationally recognized as an activist, independent filmmaker, public speaker and the founder of the corporation, Film Fatale. She has been writing, directing and producing in film and television since 1991. Her work is often considered to be controversial, provocative, radical and irreverent. Through her company and the mediums of film, television, and public speaking, Maggie focuses on developing social justice projects related to various forms of “violence”, which have been previously unrecognized or under-examined.

Currently Maggie is production on her fifth film and website project, Sick to Death!, which explores the testing, diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease and the medical industries worldwide failure to attend to the nearly 59 million individuals that suffer from thyroid diseases.

Her fourth film, and second feature documentary Player Hating: A Love Story which follows the life of hip-hop artist Half-a-Mill as he struggles to escape ghetto obscurity for fame. This intimate and controversial film explores issues of race, “thug life”, cultural / government neglect, the far-reaching impact of extreme trauma and cultural culpability

In her well known feature length documentary, War Zone, about the public harassment of women, Maggie turns the lens of her camera on her harassers, in much the same way that they turn their aggression on her. Using a combination of black and white and color images, she creates a film that is immediate, disturbing, beautiful and historic.

Maggie has appeared on numerous national and international television and radio programs including ABC’s news magazine show 20/20, The Today Show, CBS News, The Oprah Show, Lifetime Live, Oxygen Media, BBC, NPR, and CNN. Articles on Maggie have been published in such periodicals as USA Today, New York Times, San Francisco Examiner, New York Observer, Chicago Tribune, Village Voice, New York Daily News, Ms. Magazine, Glamour Magazine, London Times, South African Elle, the Swedish papers Aftonbladet and Dagens Nyheter, Australia’s Exposure Magazine and more.

Maggie Hadleigh-West is a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow Award Winner, 2010 Indie Fest: Audience Impact Merit Award Winner, 2010 Accolade Merit Award Winner, 2009, 2006, and 2005 Alcyon Foundation Fellow, a 2004 New York State Council on the Arts Fellow, 2001 University of Louisville Distinguished Professor Nominee, 2000 Rockefeller Fellow Nominee and a 1998 Berlin Film Festival Caligari Nominee.

Film Fatale, Inc. was formed in New York City, where Maggie lived for twenty-four years. She currently resides in New Orleans, where she has deep roots and plans to remain forever.

Maggie’s Thyroid Backstory

For most of my adult life I have known that there was something radically wrong with me, which impacted my health on a daily basis. But it wasn’t until I was 32 that I was diagnosed with something concrete and treatable: Graves Disease. That diagnoses scared the shit out of me. But, being the health sleuth that I am, I hurried down to what was known as the People’s Medical Library in Manhattan and began researching my affliction.

Graves Disease is a form of hyperthyroidism, which had thrown my body into massive overdrive, shaking, sweating, crazy emotions, and a metabolism running at an insane speed, which in fact had to be stopped or I could go into what’s called thyroid storm and have a heart attack and die.

So after more research and multiple opinions, I did something that felt incredibly archaic: I drank radioactive iodine and killed my thyroid. My endocrinologist at the time assured me it was safe. However, he said, I should stay away from pregnant women and flush the toilet three or four times after peeing for the entire week following drinking that “benign” concoction.

As my thyroid died its slow death, my endocrinologist assured me that all was well, that all I’d have to do was take Levothyroxine also know as Synthroid– a synthetic thyroid replacement drug – forever, to replace what my gland was no longer producing, and I would function as a normal person. So off I went into twenty-some-odd years of Synthroid-dosing, convinced my thyroid issue was taken care of, even as a myriad of symptoms developed. And they got worse as the years rolled along. Doctor after doctor sent me from one specialist to the next. By the time I was in my mid 40’s I rode my bike all over Manhattan and Brooklyn because it hurt to walk. I had scoliosis, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, low blood pressure, low-grade fever, the inability to sleep, constant infections, bizarre allergies, and a malfunctioning brain, among a zillion other symptoms. And when my heart started beating erratically and I was depressed beyond belief, I thought–I am not going to survive this body. It’s time to get the fuck outta New York City because I’ve got to slow down and get some help, somehow.

So I moved back to New Orleans, where my family is from. By now, I was certain that my lack of thyroid was the culprit and the medication wasn’t helping me. Neither were the doctors-so I totally gave up on the medical community from sheer physical and mental exhaustion. Then on a blind referral, and only looking for an increase in the natural thyroid medication that I had started taking, I walked into the office of Dr. Chuck Mary, an Internist and Integrative Medicine Doctor, who immediately understood that I had been suffering with thyroid disease long before Graves Disease even came into play. Chuck pointed out all of the clinical signs that had existed since my childhood, including scoliosis as a symptom of thyroid disease!

After a few months of taking an increased dosage of medication, the carpal tunnel in my arms disappeared, and I was astounded. I voiced my shock to Chuck and he showed me one of his primary medical references that he used for treating thyroid disease clinically. It looked like a road map of my life. Unbelievably the book was printed in 1943. Two hours later when I stopped crying, I became enraged and against my better judgment, decided to make yet another film, because I was in fact, Sick to Death!”  – Maggie Hadleigh-West

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