“Sick to Death”: Local Filmmaker Brings Advocacy to N.O. Film Fest

Sick to Death!

Review by Claire Dinwiddie

Sick to Death by Maggie Hadleigh-West

In her fifth and latest feature film “Sick to Death!”, local film writer and producer Maggie Hadleigh-West exposes the struggles of hypothyroidism that have affected herself and millions of other individuals over the years. Hadleigh-West, who currently resides in New Orleans, has been writing and producing films since 1991 and has appeared on shows such as the Today Show, ABC’s 20/20 and CBS.

In the educational film that premiered at the 28th annual New Orleans film festival on October 14, and nominated as an audience award, Hadleigh-West opens up about her thirty-year struggle with hypothyroidism while sharing the stories of other women. On the film’s official website www.sick2death.com, Hadleigh-West says, “The purpose of this project is not to supply all of the answers, but rather create a resource for health seekers that can assist in confirming that what they are experiencing may in fact be thyroid related and to pose the question why is it that patient advocates are taking on the roles and responsibilities of the medical community?”

The film opens with clips of different women who experience the same symptoms talking about their illness. Hadleigh-West makes it a point to show that these women were never given answers about their conditions just as she wasn’t. Hadleigh-West goes back and forth from sit-down clips to live footage from her life showing the endless treatments such as radioactive light treatment and acupuncture she entails.

Throughout the film, the audience can see Hadleigh-West’s growing frustration as she attends numerous doctor’s appointments without receiving answers about her health condition. Amidst her pain, Hadleigh-West gives the film a lighter aspect by mixing in her own personal humor which is refreshing for the audience.


Hadleigh-West had the film’s executive producer Dr. Kent Holtorf speak out about hypothyroidism. Holtorf, who is the medical director of non-profit National Academy of Hypothyroidism, exposes the truth about the American Medical Association and its lack of caring about the health of Americans.

Hadleigh-West’s determination to find a cure for hypothyroidism is shown in the time and effort it took to make this film. From the range of people interviewed, to the quality and information the film contains, Sick to Death! is a medical textbook that educates the audience on this “silenced” disease. At the end of the film, Holtorf agrees to go to Amsterdam with Hadleigh-West as she gets medication for hypothyroidism that is not supplied in the US.

The film ends abruptly giving the audience hope that Hadleigh-West has finally found an answer to a problem that has affected her in every way for her entire life. This radical, raw and compelling film gives a firsthand look into the lives of those who struggle with hypothyroidism while educating those who might not be getting answers to their symptoms.

The New Orleans Film Festival allows filmmakers, both local and national, to debut their films that might not have made it on the big screen. Over the course of October 11-19, more than 200 films were shown from over 400 filmmakers. Further information about hypothyroidism and the full length 86-minute film can be found on the website www.sick2death.org.