A Lion in the House Talkback
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Visit our archived discussion forum to read posts from viewers, the filmmakers and family members from A LION IN THE HOUSE.

People have been asking how they can help or contact the families in A LION IN THE HOUSE. For more information, contact independentlens@pbs.org

This comment area is closed to new submissions. Visit ITVS.org to continue the conversation about this film.

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Andrea Mahyari
Indianapolis, Indiana

i have just finished watching this eye opening documentary and i can truly say i feel i have been given true insight on the word "bravery"! i have always know the "c" word to be a scary thing, but seeing the pain and suffering it afflicted on these beautiful children "it" the "c" word suddenly became pure "Evil"!i cried and prayed and suffered along with the families as i watched, and felt a peace come over me when they no longer had to suffer and were at peace.i fell in love with u all! i will walk away from this documentary being changed not momentarily, but forever knowing what life is all about and never having to determine what's superficial,because my whole life will be built around what really matters.love,spirituality,family,and good will for all of mankind.....dedicated to my beloved sister, toni ann payton, who bravely fought and lost her battle to fanconi's anemia......forever loved, never forgotten,and in my heart mind and soul for eternity.

Ginger Domer RN
Kettering, OH

What a moving film!! I love documentaries to start with and this was one of my favorites. It brought me to tears at times. It reminded me how truly blessed we are to just have a life with normal everyday problems. The film demonstrated how unfair, random, and ruthless the disease of cancer really is. These were such brave families and I thank them for allowing us to see how awful cancer can be even to children. It is not just an adult disease. As a nurse, it challenges me to my career options. I applaud the nurses who allow their hearts to be touched and broken by the disease of cancer as they have to watch it cause pain on those lovely little ones. They have a unique opportunity to ease the suffering of the children and their families just a little. God bless them and the physicians as well.

Oberlin, OH

I have just finished watching Part 1 of "A Lion in the House",because of my family history there is a good chance that I may have to endure what these brave families have gone through. I have read through the previous comments and I'll be honest,I am really scared to watch Part 2,but then I just think about "What would Justin do" and then I see what the real message is. Its about love and not fear. I want to say thank you to the families, and everyone else who was involved with this very special project. It has taught me more then I can every write in words,and I am so grateful for your strength and honesty.


so i watched a lion in the house last week during school my great grandmother had died so i wasent at school for the first part but i was for the last and when i seen them kids it totally touched my heart and i couldnt belive how good they were doing and everything kept going up hill then down and i know how hard that is but i hope the familys are recovering and are doing better i know it isnt easy loosing the ones you loved but i have all you familys in my heart and in my prays and im sorry about your loss.

NY, New York

I cried for an hour watching the first part of this film. The children and families are so strong, I kept on thinking to myself - how does one summon the strength to carry on boldly and gracefully. May they all rest in peace. Thank you for showing us how we should aspire to live.


I came across A Lion in the House when reading about Julia Reichert on the Internet Movie Database - was surprised to see that it has almost the same name as an award-winning documentary from Norway on young people with cancer, made by Sigve Endresen in 1998. It's called 'Å leve blant løver' which means 'to live among lions' and they also refer to the Isak Dinesen quote as their source. Could be that it is mentioned in one of the comments in TalkBack but I couldn't face reading through all of them.


Mr.& Mrs. Lougheed:

I stumbled upon the documentary "A Lion in the house" yesterday night while surfing channels and after watching the first segment felt compelled to contact you personally. I cannot overemphasize to you how much watching your particular story has impacted me. I felt my heart breaking while watching Alex in the ICU.

I don't know how old this documentary is. I spent some time researching it online; enough to know that it's been a while since it first aired, and even longer since Alex passed. But I don't believe that can ever "dull" your pain, or make you any less aware of her absence. I fell in love with your daughter almost immediately, and to watch her many struggles and triumphs seems to have turned me inside out. I almost wish I hadn't watched TV last night - I could have spared myself some pain, but I also know, with much conviction, that watching has changed me in some form, to some extent. I'm a mother too, and if faced with your experiences I'm not sure I could live pa st the conclusion. I'm not sure if there is a conclusion.

I'm thrilled to hear that your other daughters are blossoming, and in doing so are validating Alex and keeping her love alive, in ways they can't fathom. I don't know about heaven (or it's opposite) but I have to believe that Alex is in her own heaven, surrounded by love and happiness and warmth. I will NOT be watching the second segment; quite frankly I'm not strong enough. I know how it ends, and I don't need visual reminders of all the pain I am currently feeling. That's what made me reach out to you. If I'm feeling so much loss, what on earth can you possibly be experiencing? I don't dare to use the past tense. Grief is this thick rope that can strangle. How are you managing?

I offer you my most sincere condolences and also my sincere praise and awe - for having loved your daughter in the best most complete way you could. For having held yourselves together when your world was falling apart around you. What a testament to your power - what a wonderful little girl Alex was. And what a wonderful little angel she is now. Your daughter has, and I know I seem as if I'm speaking prematurely, touched my heart very deeply and permanently. God bless her. And God bless you and your family.

Lubna Khan
Ottawa Canada

My heart aches for the Lougheed family. My heart just aches for you all. What a beautiful special little girl Alex was. I can't believe how painful it was to watch. My life has only ever been marginally touched by such loss and I cannot express to you my condolences. You are so strong. You are so blessed and I hope you know how much I am thinking of your little girl and how touched I am by her.

sue m
manchester, UK

I guess the BBC showed an edited version as it ran for under 3 hours, so I hope what I say isn't because of this? Firstly, it was an incredible piece of film-making. I was worried about watching it because I didn't want to invade private moments. I didn't want to feel I was using the film for personal reasons.

I came away, however,feeling I understood a lot more about families in crisis and about medical ethics. There was, for me, a subtle difference in the way choices were given to some families (more drugs) and not to others: possibly Tim's mother here. But I didn't feel any judgement was made, or could be made, on the families and health professionals involved. What I did feel is the complexity of ethics and money driving some of these decisions to try treatment or not (the drug companies), but the simplicity of love stands out as being at the core of all who cared for the children.

The hospice nurse who spoke about Alex's anxiety moved me, but so did Alex's parents who were in an impossible bind. Tim's final days were difficult - this will haunt me. But all the families and children were so strong. Deeply amazing experience. Thank you.

Jamie Svatos
Omaha, NE

I would just like to say thank you to the Lion families. This is such a personal journey and you helped open the doors so the rest of us can get a small glimpse of what you and your Lions were up against.

I am upset that anyone would dare judge any decision that was made in the care of these brave soldiers. All decisions were made from love. I pray that anyone that judges these amazingly impossible decisions will never be faced with them in their own lives.

I'm so greatful that both Justin and Alex knew they were loved. Ashcraft and Lougheed families you are my heroes. My heart breaks for Tim. He was loved, but not given the attention he so deseperatly craved. I am haunted by his statement saying it was not so bad being diagnosed with cancer because he at least received attention now. I still cry thinking how alone this young man was.

I will forever be touched by Alex's infectious smile, Justin's determination, and Tim's courage. Our family has a lion in the house. My 5 year old nephew has brain cancer and I pray for a day when no families have to hear their son/daughter has cancer. To see the courage these children exhibit is overwhelming. They are all heroes!

Kaitlyn Igel

To everyone, Alex was my best friend growing up and i miss her everyday. But her family surrounded her with so much love and support, her spirit never died. One thing we can all learn form her is to live for right now, not for the future. One person with this attitude affected so many people's lives in an amazing way. we can only hope to do the same. To Scott and Judy and Jackie, i love you all and i miss her too

Toronto ON Canada

The first time I saw „A Lion in the House‰ I was deeply touched by Tim. I will never forget Tim, and his family. There was something in his eyes and his amazing smile, a sadness that still haunts me. Marieta is such a wonderful mother. I found it heartbreaking that she had to go through so much without what I thought was a sufficient support team. Having a child with cancer is every parent‚s nightmare, having a child with cancer when you are financially poor is unbearable. Tim and Marieta seemed so alone, which is probably why their story affected me so much. A day does not go by without a thought or prayer for all the children who suffer so much. I am blessed with a healthy child, and I am grateful for that every moment. Tim lives on in my heart and in my thoughts. I hope that Marieta‚s life is full of love and support. Namaste.


You know, I thought I was a tough kid and I would never cry in any circumstances but when I watch this movie, I cry for the victim of cancer espeicially for Timothy Woods 'cause he is such a great kid, energetic and fun. It shows me how life can just end in a second...You just have to make the most out of your life and be the best that you can be 'cause once you gone, you won't be back... Thanks "A Lion in the House"!

London England

What an amazing documentry, thank you to all the families who took part in the film. Letting us share with you the good and bad times. Tim, Alex and Justin you make what living is all about. All your fights for survival. I cried and laughed with you through out the film. May you all rest in peace. Having had a close friend go through Lukemia, I found this film touched on some many emtions. To the staff at the hospital what amazing, wonderful professionals you are. So much love and giving to all the patients.

Mirelle Sutton
Melbourne, Australia

Dale sent me a copy of the film and it truly is so amazing, more so on the second viewing. I will raise money Dale!!! To all the families, I am, as a cancer survivor, so happy that you all are using your experiences as a positive and powerful way. You have all inspired me to use my experience to help others. So thank you Justin, Alex, Tim, Jennifer, and Alex F, for your strength, spirit, laughter, and inspiration to someone you have never met. My 5 hero's keep me fighting... Thank you again, Mirelle Sutton

Dale Ashcraf
Villa Hills, Ky

The main reason our family was in the film was Justin. Justin loved being on TV and after he met Julia and Steve it took about two minutes for him to say "sure" he wanted to be in the film. Justin was a true Lion in every sense of the word. He wanted to make the film not only to see himself but he wanted to help all of the kids who were and are facing the terrible cancer war.

The Ashcraft family is truly proud of "A Lion in The House" and we feel the compassion and love of Steve and Julia for our children and families comes through in the film. Dale Ashcraft.

Carrie Black
Oklahoma City

Alex's dad,

Alex truely touched my heart. As the parent of a child with cancer (now a survivor) I understood all the ups and downs you went through. I applaud you for doing everything you did to try and make her well. I cried with and for you when she lost her battle.

Scott Lougheed

To all that have seen the film, and posted the moving comments, I thank you! This was a difficult journey for all the children,family,and people involved with the prodution of "A Lion in the House". If this film even impacts just one person, then it was worth the difficult journey. I miss my little "Alex" so much every day, she sure made an impact on my life! Alex's Dad cincykid57@aol.com


My heart goes out to all the families with sick children. Thank you for being such brave little ones, we can all learn alot from you. After watching this, my heart goes out to poor Tim. Seeing him in the hospital alone, never wanting to give up...and really no support behind him. How could anyone have sat and watched this happen? I am 20 years old, and if I could have been there for that little boy like people should have been, I would have done everything in my power to make that little boys dreams come true. It makes me sick to see what Tim had to go through, with only the doctors really by his side. Having him take a cab home by himself, being in the hospital alone, where was his family?? He deserved so much more, unfortunately its too late. We all need to take this as a Lesson Learned, the sad part is, its at the expense of a innocent little boy.

Malisha Sabeti
Lexington Kentucky

I would just like to thank the film makers of this eye opening documentary. It was very difficult for me to watch the death of the Justin, Tim and Alex. I myself am terrified of death, but watching these brave children face death has given me strength and courage. It just made me realise more and more that death is something that is apart of all our lives, but it breaks my heart that those 3 children had to pass away under such circumstances.It's not fair that they did not get a chance to live thier lives to a full. My heart goes out to all the families that participated in this film, this film has changed my life and I will never forget it. God Bless you all and Rest in peace Justin, Tim and Alex.

Hannah Gow
Australia NSW

this was truly inspiring. I am so glad i watched this..even tho it was very sad and i cried alot..it was so touching and showed how strong some people can be..not only the kids but their families aswell. i will never forget it. thankyou for this experience.

Pauline Kynaston
Brisbane QLD

Watching the film was very moving and so close to home. I myself is affecting by the disease. Watching these children is so sad for what they been thru in their young lives and also the support from their loved ones. God bless them. I have a 12 year old son I prayed to God to give me more years so I can see him growing. Each day is a blessing. Well done please put some more documentary like these to help educated more people about life threatning diseases.


Wow, where do you start, thank you so much for making this film. I personally will never forget little Alex. What an amazing child I weep as I write this and think of her tears of joy as she left hospital for what? A better life? No more suffering? An inspiration person just 8 years old. Alex you have humbled me and I will never understand for you and for all the others why? I wish your wonderful parents and sister a happy and healthy life. May you be at peace. I will never forget you.

Dale Ashcraft
Villa Hills, Ky

Marielle from Austrailia, Please email me at dash484@yahoo.com and I would be glad to let you know how to obtain a copy of the film. Thanks for the kind words about the film. Dale Ashcraft (Justin's dad)

Mirelle Sutton
Melbourne, Victoria, Aust

"A lion in the house" is an amazing film. As a cancer surviver, I see for the first time what my parents went through during my illness. You're film shows the raw emotions of paediatrics oncology and is an amazing piece of work. Your film made me laugh, cry and angry and these are the things that I look for in a great documentary. I hope that you receive the acclaim the you deserve as you have captured for the first time, the effects that cancer has on the patient, their families, friends, nurses and doctors.

Thank you for telling this story with compassion, integrity and honesty. I hope this documentary is made available here in Australia soon, as I would like to purchase it.Thank you so much for this film.

Inbal Derhy
Jerusalem, Israel

I'm not sure of how to start. My hands are shacking just from the thought of making contact with the families I've just saw. I must tell you, I've been dreading of watching this film. I wasn't intending to watch it. It was too hard for me, since my brother had cancer as well. He got sick at 95' and thank God had pull out of it after about a year. He was 12 when he got sick, I was 10. The five families had touched me in so many ways. But I think the most significant thing for me, was the humanity of the situation. I think all of them dealt with what had happened to them, in the most good way they could. And in some ways, it makes all families as one family. Cancer dealing family.

There were a lot of moments when I felt uplifted by the kids and the families. When Alex got out of the nose surgery and started walking slowly, trembling, and yet, smiling. holding to her father. When Tim was better and was happy and doing all of his funny and humorous things.

The thing that I learn from that film, was a life changing thing for me. It was a personal affect that I got from watching that film. I understood my battle of coping with the trauma as a sister. as another child of the family. I understood that the most dificult thing for me, was, at the age of ten, understanding what death is. And how helpless a human is, facing death. during the years I've dealed with lots of problems. At 17, I tried to put an end of my life. Now I understand, it mite have been my way to deal with the fear of death.

I thank those families. I put a spot on my blog for Justin, Alex and Tim. I thank for the peek that was given to me in their lives. and wish the families, lots of strength.

(the page in my blog) http://my.area.co.il/view.php?siteid=188524=page=0=1163057773656086974

Heather Benjamin

I sat and watched this episode of Independent Lens, crying and saddened by what I saw thinking this could never happen to us. Unfortunately, last week my 4 year old was diagonsed with Leukemia. Thank you for the information I learned on this program, it helped prepare me for the next 3-1/2 years of our lives.

Anissa Mayhew
Brandon, FL

Shows like this are so vital and I am so thankful to every person involved in getting it to our eyes. We are a family currently fighting leukemia with our three year old daughter, and it is a daily struggle, but it is an experience that makes you love deeper, feel stronger and care more intensely every day. I wish it wasn't my child, that she was still healthy and didn't have to go through all the painful procedures and uncertainty of cancer, but we find the strength to do it. All the families that go through this do, and I pray for the families of this show, for continued comfort and strength and grace of God on them and in their lives. ---Anissa Mayhew www.hope4peyton.org


Thank you for running this program. I have never been so touched emotionally in years until I watched the devastation cancer was doing to these young kids. "Independent Lens" opened my eyes up to the struggle of those suffering from cancer and the parents who are willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to pay large medical bills.


i was reading over these comments and now i have realized what these storyies are meant to teach us.thank you for the support and eye opener that you have provided.

Silvia Ochoa
Kansas Ks


Carolyn Love
Kenai, Alaska

I wanted to say thank you for A LION IN THE HOUSE. My husband and I came across it by accident one evening, and both of us sat there, unable to peel our eyes away. We were deeply moved by these kids and their families. Specifically, we were amazed with Alex's upbeat sweetness, Tim's insightful wisdom, and Justin's perserverant attitude. As parents, we are dumbfounded by the strength of the families, how inspiring you were to these children, as well as the doctors and hospital staff treating them. Thank you for letting us share in your experience. The first thing I did went I went to bed the evening I watched was pray for every family out there experiencing circumstances such as these. Watching the love and human spirit within LION has, honestly, made me a better person. Words could never express what I felt by the ability to see a brief part of these people's lives. All I can say is THANK YOU for that gift.

Topeka, KS

This is the first time I've ever posted to a message board like this, but "A Lion in the House" so deeply and profoundly touched me. For the rest of my life I will have the memory of 8-year-old Alex leaving the hospital after treatment options were exhausted. She was crying because she was so happy to be going home. I have never known a thankful heart like hers.

I am so grateful and so changed by this experience of turning on PBS at the right time.

Victoria Faber
Kansas City, MO

I am not sure where to begin. Watching the film "A Lion in the House" touched my heart in more ways then I can mention. I recently just started working at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as the Patient Services Manager. Everyday that I come into work, I think of the families from the film. In particular, I think of Tim. In fact, I think of Tim everyday. I would like to tell Tim's mother how proud I am of her. You raised an amazing human being. Although I did not know Tim personally, I believe that he is w/ me as I continue to try and help other children and families afflicted w/ cancer. Recently, I decided to train for a marathon. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has a program called Team in Training. Individuals are trained to run marathons, triathlons and bike races all over the world to benefit patients w/ a blood cancer. Everyday that I start out to run- I think of Tim and the other children from the film. I think of how hard they fought and how they never gave up. This in turn keeps me running! I wanted to let you know that I will be running in honor of Tim this year. I will never forget him. His memory will live on through all that were touched by his life. I believe that he is in a better place and is surrounded by angels. Thank you for sharing his story.

East Bethel, Minnesota

For about 7 or 8 months I worked at one of the children's hospitals here in MN. The department in which I worked was the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) I had to leave because I could not handle it emotionally. After leaving I naturally thought that it would all go away. How wrong could I be? I still to this day follow the stories of the little ones I met while in the PICU. Most of which are cancer kids........over half of which have passed away.
I couldn't help but tune in to Lion, as I thought it would give me some more insight as to what the families of my new little buddies were going through. But it did so much more. It has been a month now since I saw the program and I am anxiously awaiting the DVD to become available to the public so I may own my own copy. I want to never forget all that I have learned, loved and lost through my experience in the PICU and this film.
My mother always says I am too emotionally involved in things that aren't directly related to me, but I hope that this involvement will lead me to one day make a difference for someone, much like Steven and Julia have done by making this film.
I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to the families of these wonderful children for sharing their stories with us. As a mother, and community member I will never forget you and will continue to try to make a difference in all of your names...............

Debbie Ashcraft Kenner

Dear Families & Friends,

I can't thank you all enough for your stories of your loved ones.They also have touched my life and will continue to pray for them and you. To Dr.Mazewski,I wish I could've heard from you, I hope you and your family are doing well. To my children Adam & Jennifer, I love you for who you are,and the gift of being a grandmother.
Justin's Mom Debbie

sandra strother
marshfield, MO

Dear friends: I just finished watching A Lion In The House. I Tivo'd it and it took me a month to watch. A little at a time. I had a student that went to be with his Lord at the age of 8 due to cancer. I remember going to the hospital(Loma Linda Childrens in So Calif) twice a week and visiting, bringing messages from his classmate or school work. I would watch the parents of the cancer ward going in and out.Changing shifts so to speak. Coming in with the 2 or 3 yr old in tow. Pillows in hand. I would have this thought. "This is their world right now" and here we are going on with our day without a clue that this community is happening. When I first started watching Lion It immediatly made me think of my little student Kelsey. I wondered if I would be able to stand remebering what he went through. I watched so I would remember and not ever forget this community of parents and children. I thank all the people that made this truly great film. I hope it helps us to all know and not just go on about our days and forget. You have helped that to happen. May the good Lord bless you all the producers team, parents,children,and hospital staff. Very sincerely, Sandra Strother


I too am yet another viewer who discovered this documentary purely by accident, and I haven't been the same since. I saw Part I but almost missed Part II. Thank goodness I caught a very late night re-broadcast--although I was left sobbing and unable to sleep afterward.

As odd as it is to say about a film depicting suffering and death, this was a profoundly beautiful work. Deeply human, indelibly moving. And I thank the families, doctors, and filmmakers for allowing it to be made. Everyone, healthy or sick, should see this fim. There is so much to be learned from here.

I must admit I think about this film and the people in it frequently. I remember the tears of joy little Alex shed upon going home from the hospital; Tim's pride in working at McDonald's and the fun he had frolicking in the surf with his family during their Chicago trip; and stalwart Justin accepting whatever came toward him with such incredible strength.

I wish all of the doctors, nurses, and families -- Jen and Al's too -- the best

. And I also wish filmmaker Julia Reichert, now fighting cancer herself, the utmost strength and courage in her battle. She and Steve Bognar have made the best and most important documentary I have ever seen, one I will remember the rest of my life.

Rhoda Pelliccia
Acra, NY

Thank you to the film crew who made this film possible. I am still thinking of Justin, Tim and Alex to this day and can't get them out of my mind.

To Justin's parents who lived with his disease since Justin was 9 years old. Justin put up a long hard fight. It was very hard for him and his family. You did the best you knew how to do and tried to get him the best medical care. You could not have done more than you did. May you know only happiness with your grandchildren. God bless you all.

To Alex's Dad. You did what any parent would do. Try, try, try to do the best no matter what other people say. We want our children to have the best and even if some people do not agree we do what we must do.

God bless you and your family.

To Marietha, Tim's Mom. You had the whole world on your shoulder with no other support. How I wish that you had someone to confide in and a shoulder to cry on. You were all alone in this with your son and you did the best you could. You showed courage and fortitude.

How I wish that Tim could have gotten all is wishes. His beautiful face, eyes that lit up when he smiled will never be forgotten. May you only know happiness with your grandson. God bless you and your family.

dale ashcraft
villa hills, ky
And thank you Adam and Jennifer for being such great kids and helping the memory of your brother and my son Justin live on. I love all three of you very very much. Dad