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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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7/14/06
Adam Ashcraft
Cincinnati, OH

Thank you Al, Alex, Jen, Tim, and my baby brother, Justin. You have touched the World in ways few have.

Thanks,
Adam Ashcraft
(Justin's Brother)

7/11/06
Mary
Kansas City, MO

It took me a while to watch LION. I lost my father and mother to cancer. And, I lost my oldest brother to Leukemia last August. And although he was 53 years old when he died, the experiences of these children brought it all rushing back to me.

Although painful to watch, this film really shows the blessedly uninitiated what the process is like. The doctor visits, the endless blood tests, the hospital stays. It's difficult to imagine what that's like without being there. Although the film is long, the lenght and the repetitive nature of the treatments and visits is what illustrates this so well.

One of the great lessons... or perhaps questions... of this film, is even though advances in medicine allow us to live longer, is it the kind of life we should want/accept? I don't have the answer, all I know is that in hindsight many of these family members confess to doubt. They made the absolute best decisions they could for their kids at the time. But my heart goes out to Alex's father, for example, when he admits regret aobut his last choice about her treatment.

The other enlightening vision from this film is the differences in "bedside manner" between each doctor, nurse and medical technician. It just reminds me that we all need to be our own advocates about our health care. Go with your gut and stand behind and trust those that show true care when dealing with your health.

God bless the children in this film. And God bless their families, friends, doctors, nurses and especially their parents.

Thank you for making this important film.

7/11/06
Alex's Dad
Cincinnati, Ohio

Tori, I am praying for your sister in her battle of ALL. As a parent with a child diagnosed terminal, I was not sure how to talk to my child about death. My wife did,but I guess I did not have the courage to talk with my little girl about dying. I'm not sure many parents could do this, it's an incredible task to under take.

Also, I want to clear something up. I did not want to amputate my child's nose. The proceedure was to cut out the fungial infection which was in some of her cheek bones. You must have been out of the room, when the film showed the question posed to me of what I thought we should do? My response was " If the Leukemia is back, (which it was) we are not doing anything regarding cutting out anything in my little girls face.

To Dr. Rabkin, the chemotherapy administered to Alex at the end of her life was not your traditional therapy, but an anti- body therapy that did not do the "harm" that traditional chemo's do to a child. Our Dr.(Paul Jubinski) granted my wishes to try and do something that may help her.

And if you cannot understand this, your in the wrong field of work. If I would have listened to Physcians like you, we would have lost Alex 18 months prior. We had a doctor tell us to take her home and enjoy what time we had left.

But, for the grace of God or some other force Dr. Paul Jubinski came into Alex's life and thankfully found an experimental drug that put her in remission. I made mistakes along the way, any parent will tell you that. However, when it gets to the end of a childs life, there is a lot of uncharted waters to sail.

7/10/06
Janice Winston
Philadelphia, PA

I just finished watching "A Lion In The House". I am so thankful for the "TV remote" :-). It took me back to January,1994 when my 24 year old son was diagnosed with cancer. He died in 1995. Because of my son's age he was not considered a child but since he was single I, being his mother, was his caregiver. He had the best care any parent could ask for but at times I wondered what went on behind the scenes of every decision that was made in his care. I knew the end result but not the dicussion. Through this documentary I relived every day of the pain of losing my son to nasophealgeal carcinoma but I am so glad that this documentary took place for other caregivers to understand the love,pain and anguish that goes into the decisions made by the cancer patient, the caregivers, doctors and support staff. A cancer diagnoisis a reality and so was this film. Thank you to the families for letting us into the intimate details of your lives and giving comfort to parents who have lost children to cancer. We understand your pain and your path to a peace that passes all understanding.

7/10/06
M. Altman

Justin's grandmother had the common sense to realize that the female MD plundered his "medical care". Did this doctor really think that doubling or tripling Methotrexate would cure this kid? How can any of these kids possibly beat cancer when their immune systems are destroyed with chemotherapy and/or radiation? Viewers saw for themselves just how "safe and effective" chemo & radiation are. They are effective money makers. Research it. Cancer treatment in the US is a fraud.

7/10/06
Mary Ellen
Pittsburgh PA

The backgrounds of the families revealed more similarities than differences. The main difference was the resources available to more middle and upper class families. The main similarities were the parents' love for their children and the incredible bravery and resilience of the children.

The relationship between Al and Regina was wonderful. Her ability to be alternately loving, funny, tough and her utter devotion to him were wonderful to behold.

I learned that the teamwork of the doctors and medical staff is the closest thing to blessed I have seen - the thoughtful care of the medical team was miraculous. I am not religious, but I am sure they are doing God's work.

7/10/06
Elizabeth J. Rabkin, M.D.
Cincinnati, OH

I felt compelled to watch "A Lion in the House" for many reasons: I am a physician who specializes in palliative care, I am a Cincinnatian and I am a pediatric and adult cancer survivor. So I had many perspectives from which to analyze this documentary. I felt that the raw, honest and unvarnished portrayal by the directors was important for the public to see. Everyone needs to see that taking care of the dying, especially children is hard, emotionally taxing and not always predictable. That medical decision making is not often black or white, especially at the end of life and that most physicians, nurses and health care providers truly want the best for their patients. However,sometimes medical professionals, in their zeal to try "one last thing" go too far and do not provide adequate or aggressive palliation and support at the end.

So, from my perspective I was disappointed but not surprised by the discomfort most of the oncologists had communicating with their patients and their families when the patients were clearly reaching the end of their lives. Only the palliative care physician and Dr. Arceci really exemplified how a physician should communicate with family members and patients. I especially found Dr. Arceci's interaction with Tim's mother to be appropriate. He gently guided her into a place where she could make a plan to let Tim die a natural and dignified death. Contrast this with the death of Justin, who suffered through a brain biopsy and weeks of coma while his parents and family agonized, only for him to die anyway as expected. Or worse, compare his death to that of Alex's. I can understand what torment drove Alex's father to take her to get chemotherapy on her death bed, but I cannot understand or condone the physician's ordering or the nurse's administering the chemotherapy.

I hope to use this documentary for teaching purposes to help other physicians and students to understand that we can improve the quality of the end of life first by becoming comfortable ourselves with our limitations as physicians and human beings and by learning better and more effective ways to communicate prognoses and treatment options. Perhaps then, we can help to reduce not only the suffering of the patients, but also of the family. A suffering that as "A Lion in the House" demonstrates, does not end with the death of the patient but lingers for years, perhaps generations.

I was lucky enough to be a very early(1961) childhood cancer survivor, thanks to the Children's Hospital in Cincinnati. I know that miracles can happen but I know that realistically, we do not cure all children or adults with cancer or the many other diseases which afflict humans and will ultimately take us all to make room for the future generations. All physicians strive to had quantity and quality life to their patients, but at the end of life, we need to have a clearer understanding of life's goals and meaning and strive for a peaceful death.

7/10/06
Tori

My adult sister is 15 months into treatment for ALL, and she's been near death several times. She spent most of the first nine months in the hospital. The Chemo caused multiple strokes, neurological damage, and so damaged her stomach, that she was placed on a feeding tube. Unfortunately, I work in hospice, and I know what her odds look like. The treatment for the acute forms of leukemia and lymphomas, basically bring you to the edge of death in the hopes of a little more time, although the outcomes for children have improved greatly.

What troubled me most about A Lion in the House, was that none of the parents ever seemed to talk to their children about death. The Hospice doctor was even referred to as Dr. Negativity, by one of the parents. They were willing to keep subjecting them to endless painful and debilitating treatments, and even in the face of paralysis, and with the thought of amputating Alexis' nose, couldn't face they're own fears enough to talk to their kids. (Maybe I'm wrong, and these conversations happened off camera == but I don't think so.)

7/10/06
Ellen

I was touched by the children and families in this show, but no more than I am touched daily by all the kids I know with cancer. The majority of whom have passed away in only a years time. My son unfortunately has a rare abdominal sarcoma that very few survive. We live in a totally different world than most people. We live one precious day at a time. I wish that more people could understand how desperately we need more research into the rare childhood cancers. Even this program which was excellent did not delve into the bottomless pit of the families dealing with rare and unresearched cancers. Cancers that have no standard protocol. Cancers in which insurance companies have never heard of, so they routinely deny treatment as being 'medically unnecessary'. The daily living with the fear that treatment options will run out and than there will be no choice but to watch your child die. We have often heard about courage, but we are experiencing is not courage. We have no choice but to continue on. We only have hope that the treatments will continue to work.

My heart goes out to the families of these special kids. I understand.

7/7/06
donna brese
eden, new york

what can i say!!! i just finished watching this production and it is 3 am. i am the mother of one, and the grandmother of 2 children who have been blessed with good health. i am truly gratful.
watching these families go through the hell of dealing with cancer makes me thank God even more.
thank you for this wonderful documentary. every person should watch this and really see the whole story of pain, and sickness and agony of hard decisions that is all a part of this horrible disease.
God bless you and again please know that this has touched me and awakend a realization that life is so precious and only God is in control.
meds and treatments help for awhile but only God chooses when it is time.
why...the pain?? the sadness??.. that is a conversation i plan to have when i get to heaven.
i truly can not believe that children should ever suffer.
keep up the great work. the hospital personel, doctors, nurses, all showed such compassion and love it touched me deeply. again God bless and know this did make a difference,a good difference.

7/7/06
aprilann
niagara falls canada

Now there is a great Question , one thing i learned from A LION IN THE HOUSE? I guess it could only be that with beauty comes chaos. Some one else said this film was haunting and that it is i cant get Alex out of my mind what an Angel !

7/5/06
RUBY D. THOMAS

My heart was torned apart as I watch this show. I cried with the families. My dad(71) and brother(58) died of cancer. It never gets easy, no matter what age you are.

To see the children go through pain and one treatment after another and realize they just want to be children. Then to see the parent make decision to prolong their children life or just to let them go(we always think of our children out living us). That's a hard position to be put in. We all know dying is apart of life, but when it comes,it is never easy.

All we can do is put our life in god's hand and he shall comfort us. Families should always pull together, not just when sickness or death comes.

7/5/06
Debbie
Tulsa, Oklahoma

I loved the show it broke my heart, i also have non-hodkins lymphoma-cutanious t-cell. Maybe one day someone might do a film about-people who don't have money, or insurance,etc. And theres no hope so much red-tape thru the dhs-offices. For example i can't get a medical card thru the dhs because i'm married and i don't have breast,ovarian cancer thats all they cover for women in tulsa,oklahoma.
thats a crying shame. I thank god that all the children can get help regardless them poor or rich,etc. I'll never forget these kids they are on my mind alot, and i've put them in my journal so that maybe after i'm gone someone will read about them and be blessed like i was.
thanks again for a wonderful show.

7/5/06
Katie
New York, NY

This was an absolutely amazing film. It has stayed with me in a way that no other documentary has. I have lost sleep thinking about these children. Their varied backgrounds had no bearing, to me, on the message that each of their stories told. They were all incredible fighters and taught me so much about how life should be lived.

Alex's story and life especially touched me. Her incredible "cutest" personality and her strength throughout her fight were awe-inspiring. Also, her parents were solid rocks of support for her. I watched them with amazement, thinking, "I could never keep it together like that if my child were going through this." My heart goes out to them, and I will always remember Alex and all of the children in the film.

7/5/06
Claire Layman
East Lansing, Michigan

Two weeks later, and I still can't stop thinking about this film. I know many people commented on the way families were able to find joy and love in some of the suffering, but I keep thinking about the terrible loss everyone endured-- well, especially the three families who lost their children. I think the oncologist who quoted Camus said, "What is the meaning of all this suffering?" and I wish I had an answer. I think, in a way, watching these children suffer from cancer is a harsh reminder that somehow we humans have polluted our world to the point that we are inflicting sickness on the most innocent of its residents. (I keep seeing Alex's swollen face, videotaping her dad and saying in her cheerful, congested voice, "Hi Daddy!") Finding a cure for cancer would be great-- but even better would be to find out what causes these cancers. Surely it must be environmental, with Hodgkins, Non-Hodgkins, and leukemia increasing so dramatically?

7/5/06
Malcolm Carmichael
El Cajon, California

We lost our eleven year old Raymond to ALL on Fathers Day 2006 after his heroic five year battle with that pernicious disease.

Never did we expect the disease to win the battle for Raymond. We had too much going for us i.e.dedicated doctors,nurses, support of staff,family and friends and Raymonds fighting spirit heros all but,not to no avail.

Through all the trials and tribulations,the joys the sadness the loveing and hateing and the death we grew and our resolve to see this through to closure made us stronger.

For all involved death is only the end of one way of life and the beginning of another.

As a friend of Raymonds I will proudly carry the banner of his resolve as far as possible into the future.

What a wonderful documentry! It hit the nail on the head. It's amazing how Leukemia can attack and harm a childs body but can't touch touch their fighting spirit.

7/5/06

Tim - You are the most awesome kid and individual I had ever seen. EVER!

You are an angel even before you reached heaven. You made me laugh, smile and feel good about life.

You are a shining example for all young people.

Although you didn't get to do all the good things you would have wanted in this world, I truly believe that you are doing them through those that remain here.

7/5/06
Pam
Cincinnati, OH

I just finished watching "Lion" for the 2nd time tonight, and was just as moved by it as the first time I viewed it. What touched me was when Tim was dying and some of the nurses were crying. I think it showed how much they care about their patients. Tim was so likeable and funny, and I wept when he died, as I did when Justin and Alex died. This is so hard to understand. A little boy from my children's school, a kindergartener, died from an inoperable brain tumor a few years ago, and then friends of mine lost their daughter, also a kindergartener, from the same brain tumor. Their lives will never be the same although they do go on. I can't begin to imagine that pain. God bless you for opening our eyes to see a glimpse of what these families go through, and how different people deal with things differently. Everyone needs to see this amazing documentary.

7/5/06
Katherine Upshaw
Cincinnati, Ohio

I watched the film and I was admired by all of the courage it took for all of the families to be filmed at the worst moments of their children's lives. I was the young woman on the film who sung to Tim before his death. I was twenty-two at the time with two young children that Tim had the opportunity to play with. I never saw Tim sick. That was my first time. He was always happy and cracking jokes, but when I realized that he was dying I had to go and see him. I thought that the way the film was done was excellent. I truelly thank the filmakers for doing such a wonderful job. My heart goes out to the families of Justin, Alex and Tim. I love you Tim!

7/5/06
Sandra Cherry
New York, N.Y.

Thank you for showing that cancer does not disciminate and all can be treated equally. The doctors and staff that cared for these children are very special people. Not everyone can do this kind of work. Alex's death taught a valuable lesson, and that is, some poeple will not transition when there loved ones are around, they wait until they leave. The one night Alex's Mom and Dad decided to leave his stepmother to look after him, is the one night he decided to leave. These young people taught us a lot, their focus was not on dieing, but on living. The one lesson we can all learn from these young people is to appreciate each day, appreciate each other, and just enjoy life. Please show this one again.

7/5/06
Donna R Culliver
Brenham, Texas

Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to see the movie. However, several people have taped it for us. We feel we will have to be in "the right place" to watch it. We lost our 4 yr. old son to AML. Only 4 short hours after diagnosis, he went into a coma, was declared brain dead, and was left on life support for 4 days at which time he was removed.

We were not able to watch the movie because we were actually in Washington D.C. "on Capitol Hill" as Team Leaders for the State of Texas for CureSearch-National Childhood Cancer Foundation. This organization has a Gold Ribbon Days every June where childhood cancer families come together to fight for more funding from our federal government. Our group actually had a rally on the steps of the Capitol at 11:00am on the morning the show was due to air. This rally was a kick-off to this documentary and to focus on the efforts CureSearch is making on "the Hill". My husband and I were very honored to be able to speak on the Capitol steps and share our short, tragic story of our son, Adam.

I invite everyone out there who may be reading these comments and if the stories of these families touched you in the way you say they have to log onto CureSearch.org and become involved.

I also echo the comments of another person by asking that this show be reaired in the month of September "Childhood Cancer Awareness Month". True the stories are tough, but real. Let the public have another brief glimpse of 4 hrs. into the lives of families who fear what their child with cancer faces everyday. I did not have that fear but only 4 short days. God Bless the families who walk in fear for years, even after the child is supposedly "cancer-free" there are still hurdles following them the rest of their days as a result of chemo and radiation.

Thank you for entering the lives of children with cancer.

7/5/06
OGKelley
Winthrop, MA

Truly a remarkable look into the world of pediatric cancer and its terrible effect on those involved with it. My heart goes out to all the families and caregivers. Such unselfish, dedicated people you are. I could feel Connie's pain so much at Tim's passing. This film should be shown in each middle school and high school in America. The results would undoubtedly change many lives watching for the positive. We need this in our youth today. I hope this film earns every award possible..so deserving.

7/5/06
washigton state

I love this independent lens program. A Lion In The House was one of the best shows because it had great kids on the show with great stories. It made me realize how bad cancer is and also made me realize that I am a very lucky person. My favriote part was learning more on Tim Woods he was my favorite person because he was a great person and was very interresting to learn about. I have put two mailbox letters on the back of my hockey stick that say tw which stands for Tim Woods so every time I play hockey I can remember Tim Woods who died at the age of 15 because of cancer.

6/30/06
Tammy
Colorado

I watched A LION IN THE HOUSE with my husband. Our son is a cancer survivor. I agree that 3 of the 5 children followed dying is not an accurate representation of survival statistics. I feel that at the onset of any cancer diagnosis we don't know who will survive. Sadly many (almost 40%) of the children at my son's cancer center who were diagnosed the same year as my son, have relapsed or died. The program told of the raw, honest, truth and because of that it showed that ALL pediatric cancer is serious, heart-breaking and effects the entire family. Cancer patient's are not the only ones who suffer. Parents and especially siblings have to make sacrifices also.
Thank you for showing a documentary that tells a story few dare to share. PLEASE RE-AIR it in September, CHILDHOOD CANCER MONTH, so others who missed it might see it.
Thank you!

6/30/06
RW
North Carolina

I am a fan and supporter of the Independent Lens series and watch often. A Lion In The House was one of the most powerful and thought provoking series I've seen in a long time. I found myself becoming so attached to these children almost immediately, especially like lots of others who watched, Tim really tore at my heart. After the first night I absolutely had to watch the next night because I simply had to know, even though I had a very good idea, how things would end. The children were on my mind the whole day after the first night. I shared the stories with all my co-workers that next day. I must admit that as I watched the second night I held my own child's hand and sobbed as each storyline was revealed. I experienced losing both my parents to cancer when I was a child but now that I am a mother to watch these families lose their children just is undescribable. May we not take a day of our lives for granted and love our children and make sure that we let them know that they are loved, no matter what. Thanks PBS for quality, insightful television.

6/30/06

Although she wasn't aware of it, my daughter was a resident at CHMC during the time of the filming. She took care of Alex from time to time, was, like everyone who knew her, touched by her spirit, and was so glad that through this film, so many others will be touched by it also.

I think it was a remarkable film and hope it will make a real impact, especially in making support available for families like Tim's, who have so few resources with which to face daily struggles, much less catastrophic ones.

6/30/06
Margaret Moody
Lakeland, FL

Your documentary touched me in such a way that I think about the children every day. I think about the lonliness in Timothy's eyes and the lack of faith in the patients'and families' lives. Maybe there were a lot of church support and clergymen and women visiting the children but I just didn't see it and it bothered me a great deal.

In the last days of Timothy's life the nurse said, "he is very scared." What better time would it have been then to talk to Timothy about God's grace and peace and that heaven is a place where there is no suffering. Maybe, he would not have been so scared.

I am not new to suffering and deep loss but I am new to this type of suffering and I want to help these children. My faith is strong and my church family is vital to me because life, as you know it, can be extemely painful and uncertain.

We should be giving these children our faith, strength, and support spiritually as well as physically, especially when they are dying. Please tell me how to help these families on a local level. This documentary has made me realize how much we each need to do our part.

Thank you for such an awakening film.

6/30/06
TS

I taped The Lion in the House, and I had to watch it the first time in segments, because it was so difficult to watch. I cried so hard and for so long for the loss of the children and for the pain that the families went through.

As I watched a second time, I was able to study the details more, and I observed how each case is different and that the disease is completely unpredictable. The decisions that the families made are the most difficult decisions a person would ever have to make█life or death decisions for their children with uncertain outcomes! Each person made decisions based on what he/she had learned from previous experience, from what information was available, and from the courage of their convictions. Indeed, the families showed tremendous courage throughout.

Alex's story was particularly moving for me. What a beautiful person! Her family should be proud. And know that there are many of us walking around with holes in our hearts sharing your grief.

Thanks to all of the families for the courage to let us all view their experiences. I have learned so much from it.

I will never forget the children in this film. My life has been forever changed. I am more thankful for what I have, and I will cherish every moment with my children.

6/30/06
Denise Jackson

First of all let me say how truly amazing I thought this film was. My family was also living with cancer and we knew a few of these families. My son, Nicholas, was diagnosed at age 5 with cancer on Nov.2,1990. He passed away on May 6,2004 from a malignant brain tumor that was probably caused by the chemo and radiation he had at original diagnosis. He battled his disease for 14 years, he had a few years where he was considered "tumor free" but we never got to go to even a yearly checkup. Your film really showed the emotions that are involved from the highs to the very lows. I really can't put into words what it meant to me. My family and friends were surprised I was able to watch it. It was hard but it also helped me with some of my decisions with Nick towards the end.

There is more I could say but I can't think of them right now! Again, very good job!

6/30/06
Dale Ashcraft
Villa Hills, Ky.

I am glad Steve answered the question that the kids from the suburbs would not have been shown in the last minutes of their lives. Justin spent weeks in the last minutes of his life, he was white, and he was from a suburb. You are incorrect in your assumption and you need to watch this program in a more unbiased frame of mind. The documentary is about kids in the fight of their lives, not color, not politics and not where they are from. Dale Ashcraft (Justins Dad)

6/29/06

Undeniably, this was a powerful and wrenching presentation. I was deeply bothered, however, by the exploitive footage taken of one particular child, who was black, poor, and dying. Why would the directors of this film think it necessary to show this child's final, ragged breaths? Because his mother, who, as the tape testifies, was in denial that he was dying and who did not visit him regularly during his final weeks, signed a form? It was unecessary footage, and it would NOT have been aired if it was a white child from suburbia. How dare you attempt to speak for children who are not of age, or, sadly, alive, to tell their own stories. Bless his heart, bless his mother's heart, tell your story, but grant him the grace of privacy in his last moments.

Filmmaker Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert's response:

Thank you for your concerned and thoughtful e-mail regarding A LION IN THE HOUSE. Thank you for your expression of consternation about our decision to show the last days of Timothy Woods. We appreciate your honesty. We spent nearly five years debating if and how we should present the deaths of the children in A LION IN THE HOUSE. Over the course of the editing of the film, we edited the stories in many different ways, did scores of test screenings, and consulted with many lay people and professionals about this most delicate of issues.

I must respectfully point out that when you say "if this was a white child from suburbia" such scenes would not have been aired, that this is not correct. As you saw in A LION IN THE HOUSE, the film also tells the story of Justin Ashcraft (who is white), and also follows him and his family through his last agonizing days of life, right to the morning of his death, and to his funeral. In both Tim and Justin's case, the situations are impossible and deeply painful near the end of their lives. We must also point out that the film does not show Tim's final breaths. His breathing in the film is growing difficult, and entering the agonal breathing stage that occurs at the end-of-life, but he continued to decline after the last moment you see him on screen. In both stories of these remarkable young men, and in the case of young Alexandra Lougheed, the film attempts to tell their stories through the end of their lives with as much sensitivity and respect for their families as possible, while still honestly showing what happened. The balance between honesty and sensitivity is difficult, and though we have done a far from perfect job, we have tried our best.

The reality is that far too many families lose their children to cancer, and one mission of this film is to make it real for audiences what this means, how painful it is. As much pain as we as viewers of this documentary might feel, it is absolutely nothing compared to the pain that the families feel. But we felt a need to show it in order to allow viewers at least some chance of understanding the pain that the families of Tim, Alex and Justin felt. One of the doctors we followed said something that really helped us understand this issue. He asked "What is the meaning of children suffering as these children suffer? Is there a meaning or purpose in this that we can discern?" The answer, especially for any parent of a child fighting cancer, is almost surely "No." There is no inherent meaning or purpose in the suffering of a child. But, this doctor continued, if WE who bear witness choose to find a meaning, to see it as a call to action, to make a difference in the lives of others and in our lives, then that suffering can begin to have meaning. We (Steve and Julia) hope that by seeing the final days of Alex, Justin and Tim, by experiencing the profound wrongness of what is happening, viewers will be moved to get involved in the fight against childhood cancer.

We also had long debates about the question of should we or should we not see the bodies of all three beautiful kids after they had passed away. This was another painful process which took years to decide. In the end, we decided it was important for the audience to experience their funerals as the family and friends of these children did, which meant seeing the bodies of these three amazing individuals in open caskets, as it happened. A friend of mine who had recently lost his mother to cancer wrote this after seeing the film: "Other stories/movies I've seen about cancer don't let us see that. They gloss over it because it's difficult and dark, but actually seeing the body is key. Not seeing the body creates doubt about the actual terminality of the person's cancer. I stayed with my mom's body for a long time after she died, and it made it impossible for me to deny the experience I *thought* I saw her go through. Because you did show that, and so many other difficult moments, I implicitly trusted the story you showed me. I felt like I had really lived through a real-word test like none other -- as if I had been there."

These issues are all open for dialog and debate, and we greatly appreciate your honest engagement and feedback.

- Steve and Julia

6/29/06
Debbie
Galveston, TX

I am a pediatric oncology social worker. I work with Dr. Fred Huang, who was featured in the film. When he told me about the film, I knew without a doubt that I would watch it. What I did not know is the tremendous impact it would have on me. This film touched on just about every issue facing families who have been faced with childhood cancer, from both the families' perspective and the medical staff's perspective. Sometimes these perspectives are very different. I have sat in many meetings with medical teams where we decide what is "best" for families. Who are we to decide? The families are the ones who have to live with these decisions. I applaud these families for the dedication they gave to their children, and for for doing what they thought was best for their children (even if the doctors didn't always agree). It is not just the kids who are heroes, it is their families. You are all shining stars.

6/29/06
lashun
memphis

One night just turning the channel by accident, I came upon this show. Not knowing what to expect, I reluctnantly watch. It's not everyday that people truely show all the feeling and emotions that one may wear on their selves but this segment, for me, captured it all. I can't expressed just how much I loved this program. I watched day after day that it aired and not once did I move. I was tearful in many aspects. I was happy and sad. The only thing I'm concerned about in life is real issues and stories like the ones told being expressed. Thanks PBS.

6/29/06
S Thomas
Atlanta, Georgia

First I would like to Thank PBS for such an outstanding program. I was galvanized by what I saw and as a Nursing student I've decided to work in pediatrics. I hope in the near future that PBS continue to enlighten the public and inspire the way that you do. Thank you and may God bless you on your continued success.

6/28/06
Scott Smith
Bryan, TX

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone involved in the making of this film. The courage of the filmakers to make it, for PBS to air it and most of all the courage of the children and families!

6/28/06
Ryan Wickman
Little Canada Mn

I was very moved by the stories of the children with cancer and there struggle to gon on with life.I was saddened by the deaths of Justin,Alex and Tim.My heart goes out to the families of those inspiring you people.And I am happy to learn that Jen and Al got through their cancer's ok.
I think of the backgrounds they were different and they went through struggles and hardships some where poor and others were moree middle class. The most uplifiting moments that 3 of the families went through so much with the children's deaths. One thing I learned was that I have to live my life one day at time because I don't know what will happen the next.God bless all of the families you are all in my prayers.

6/28/06
Mary Ann Ford
Florissant, MO

My 17 year old niece had just completed her last round of chemo for luekemia when "A Lion In the House" aired. I watched the first two hours and cried. The next night I watched the first hour and had to stop. My niece was experiencing the mouth sores, stomach pains, shingles, and a devastating emotional effects of many powerful drugs. I felt very angry at this movie for showing two children dying, without seeming to offer any hope. I don't know what happened to the other children. I could no longer watch because I was afraid they would all die. I needed to feel that there was hope for my niece, but I did not find it in this movie.
For those going through cancer and other severe or extended medical problems I would recommend checking out a website:
caringbridge.org
You can post a journal and pictures to keep family and friends updated on how things are going. People can log on and send messages to you. It has been a very positive support for my niece and her family.

6/28/06
Paul
Dobbs Ferry, New York

This was so unbelievably draining to watch. It killed me to see these kids in pain, but it was much needed for the public to see what they go through.
It's not beautiful, it's not cookies and cream. It's the harsh reality of a disease that robs these beautiful children of their lives. Of all the stories, Tim's was the one that made me cry the most. This wonderful child with such a big heart, beautiful smile and that wide eyed-innocence tore at my very being. Especially at the end when he was on the beach having fun during his final days, and when he was on the respirator and all you could see where these big brown eyes peering helplessly from behind the big plastic apparatus. When the doctors were talking to him, you could just see the terrible disappointment in his face. Being that young and being told, essentially, that your life was ending was a testament to this boys courage and grace. The film was absolutely wonderful, touching, and a wake-up call for all of us to get involved.
God Bless you Tim for touching my heart . Your life on earth was worth something more than you ever imagined. Because of you I will make an effort to donate and save money for that hospital, because of you who you were and will always be, you have made me a more compassionate person. I╠m sorry you went through so much. I'm sorry your life was so painful. I know you're with God and I hope he blesses your family and brings them good health, love and good fortune.
Rest In Peace.
And to all the children and parents of the other children, I commend you for your courage and strength in the face of such a large beast...this Lion, or even elephant that you dealt with for so many years. God Bless you all.

6/28/06
Kevin
Kirkland, WA

I can only echo what most everyone else has said on this message board. A Lion in the House was incredible and I have thought about it daily since the end of part two. Maybe because I have 7-year old and 12-year old kids at home, this show was doubly impactful. This program was truly a wake-up call for me to appreciate what I have in life and work harder to make each day count. We have two close friends in their late thirties / early forties, struggling with cancer and the show also helped me understand better what these mothers and their families are going through. Lion was truly amazing, and it will lead to me donating time and/or money to organizations dedicated to helping children with life-threatening illnesses. I have in the past and it's time to get my a** in gear again. Alex packing up and going home...that's something I won't forget. My heart and thanks go out to the families you followed in Lion.

6/28/06

I am not a religious person. But if I were, and belived that people are placed on this earth to evolve and grow into better people, I can almost understand why Tim was taken. It's hard to find any good in such difficult and tragic events. But I'm glad I got to meet Tim via your documentary; to watch him grow and mature. To see how his world grew and spirit opened despite, or maybe due to, his adversity. I am sorry to think he was scared and lonely in the end. But I hope he also could feel the love and closeness of those that gathered around and opened up to him, at the end. Rest in peace, Tim Woods. You are my hero.

6/28/06
heidi bongartz
pittsburgh, pa

I thourghly was enjoyed the program and other stuff on indie lens...I thought this was a great learning tool for people who have children who are suffering from cancer...it was very in depth and I was crying thru the program at certain points.Keep up the good work Indie Lens!!!

6/28/06
Mark W. Horrocks
Memphis, TN

I have thought long and hard about the documentary after I watched it. I am a parent of a childhood cancer survivor. Bella is now 33 months NED (no evidence of disease/cancer free) and almost 2 years off treatment. The movie hit home with us because our personal journey that we have had and the journey we are now entering. I thought that I shouldn╠t post anything, because it might look like I╠m just trying to promote our organization, but then I realized I needed to. Of all the families we have met in the past 3 years, we have known many who have hope, many who have faith and many that have not had any. We have known over 12 children that we came to love that have gone on to Heaven before we would have liked them to. We have many little friends that are still fighting the battle every day.

At one point, I thought this is too hard for people to watch, too depressing. We have a different understanding because we have walked in their shoes. The response that we have received from many family and friends is: "Depressing," "Oh My GOSH, I had to turn it off," "We had no idea." We asked friends, families and supporters to watch the documentary because this is the life that we know and life that we are going into with our non-profit organization Habitat for Hope (www.habitatforhope.org). Starting a faith-based non profit organization to support families enduring childhood cancer is not anything I thought I would ever be doing. After seeing the pain, suffering, and hardships families have and the lack of organizations that exist to support them, we knew we had to do something.

If this movie touched your heart and moved your soul, thank God. There are childrens hospitals in every major city and families suffering everyday from the effects of childhood cancer. Make a difference, get involved, bring a meal, send a package, visit a family, mow a lawn, say a prayer, volunteer at the hospital or local hospitality house¸ whatever you can do to serve a family will be greatly appreciated.

I commend you on your efforts for putting together a realistic view of a few families fighting this disease. It may not have been an accurate survey of the general population, but it is a real life view of the pain, the issues, the suffering and the reality that these families face.

Kudos for showing some behind the scenes footage of the medical roundtable discussion as well. That personally opened my eyes to a few things.

For more info about our organization that supports families enduring childhood cancer please go to www.habitatforhope.org

May God be with you.

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