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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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6/26/06
Kim Curtis
Milton, FL

First and foremost, I am a ALL survivor of 18 years. I must admit I was channel surfing when I discovered this show and I could not pull myself away for the entire thing. This program did such a good job of showing both sides of the coin. The families struggle to decide when enough is enough and the doctor's side of knowing when there is nothing left to do.
I was so young when I went through treatment and I am so thankful that I do not remember much of it, but it makes you such a stronger person when it is all said and done. I now am a American Cancer Society college scholorship recipient and give every spare minute of my life to the American Cancer Society and the Relay For Life. These children are the reason I get up in the morning and do what I do. As hard as it is to admit it, sometimes we get caught up in the meetings and hectic schedules, however watching this put it right in my face these children are the reason we do not give up.
To all of those children fighting, I promise to you I will never give up until there is a cure! To the parents of these children, I will be standing here fighting for you and supporting you all the way. Please know that I will forever be touched by each and every child I meet and will always relay for them. Remember always the is HOPE and I am determined to find answers for you!!!

Forever yours in the fight!!
Kim Curtis
A.L.L Survivor

PS please feel free to email me if you have any questions.

6/26/06 Lisa Beckman
Oakley, CA

Soon after the start of Part 1 of A Lion in the House, my 25 year old son got up and had to leave the room. He commented to me, "Mom, I just don't know how you can watch these types of shows". He couldn't watch it. But I was riveted. I couldn't STOP watching.

The bravery and courage these families shared with the world through Independent Lens is completely astounding. This was the most moving piece of television I believe I have ever watched.

I lost a child 26 years ago to heart problems (3 open heart surgeries, many many procedures, 6 to 8 months in hospitals). This dear child is lost to me. It wasn't cancer, but the loss must be close to the pain of losing a child to cancer. My heart aches for these parents and their remaining children. The loss of a child leaves such a large hole in families. One that can't be filled.

Thank you Independent Lens. My hat is off to you for the courage to air this program.

6/26/06
Michelle Haake
Cincinnati, Ohio

To JUSTIN, TIMOTHY, ALEX, AL, JENNIFER, your families, the producers of A LION IN THE HOUSE, and Cincinnati CHMC ...THANK YOU!
After watching this incredible documentary, I feel as though I know each of you. You are all heroes and have given so much inspiration through your stories of life, death, faith, perserverance and love.
This film is such a gift from all of you to the world.
Through each child's story; I caught a glimpse of humanity and how we're all so much the same, in our weaknesses and strengths. (TIM, you were right!)
JUSTIN, TIM, & ALEX, please watch over us all and remind us to love each other above all else.
To AL, JENNIFER, and your families, may God bless you each day of your lives. Thanks so much for sharing.

6/26/06
Allie Jensen
Worthington, Ohio

I have just read many of the comments of other viewers of LION in the HOUSE. My thoughts and reactions are much the same. I don't cry easily but I did cry over the deaths (and the spinal taps). I too was completely engaged by the children and in awe of the families. I myself have been "battling" breast cancer since 1999. My doctor offered the option of giving up in April 2005 (he estimated 2-3 months until liver failure), but I said we could try another drug. I've been holding steady ever since and my hair has grown back even though I go for chemo every 4 weeks. I have not had to endure anything as difficult as those families. I have done a little volunteer work in music at Columbus' James Cancer Center but this show has inspired me to contact our Columbus Children's Hospital--I would rather try to add something positiive to the children. The one thing I noticed was how rarely the doctors appear to have any empathy or compassion (with the exception of Dr.Huang). Also--though the doctors think they are communicating, they continually hide behind euphemisms and vague descriptionns ("things don't look good"). I believe they should show more caring (including touching)and at the same time be specific about the outcome they expect. The doctors and staff sometimes seemed to be surprised that the patients and families "didn't get it"--but how could they when the doctors don't clearly state the facts? Thank you to the filmakers and to the families--your joint effort obviously has had a tremendous impact on many of us.

6/26/06
Elizabeth
Texas

I have watched the program several times over the past few days. Watching these families in desperation and hope trying to help their children just pulled my heart strings. I have cried for days. Watching Tim lying there alone then the doctor there with him in his bed just has crushed me. I never would have dreamed he would pass away. Alex, she was a pure angel. I sit here crying, trying to type through tears while thinking of her. I so deeply understand her father trying to save his child. Justin's fight until the very end, it was amazing and showed us that it is not just cut and dry. Seeing his family join together, even after divorce, was remarkable. Al and Jen also gave me unbelievable hope. After seeing Alex, Justin, and Tim's passing has really opened my heart. I don't think there has ever been any program that has affected me so deeply.

It truly made me think what I would do if that was me? Would I keep pushing and trying until we ran out of options? I hope and pray I never have to go through this, but have buried over half of our family from cancer. In life there are no guarantees, but hope. I have prayed daily for all the families. To take us through the hardest times of your lives is mountain moving. I pray for peace for Alex's Dad most of all.

6/26/06
myrtle bailey
tallahassee, fla

I was moved, incredibly, by this film. The stories, through this roving eye, are intimate and brutally honest and moving and courageous and spiritual. I applaud you for this effort and this masterpiece.

6/26/06
Kimberly Garrett
Centerville, Ohio

When I was 14 years old(1997) I was diagnosed with Osteogenicsarcoma,a form of a bone tumor. I went through Chemotherapy and many surgeries at Cincinnati Childrens hospital. I knew the doctors and nurses. That is why your film touched me so much it was so real!!! People don't realize the pain that these children go through to survive, and some don't. I think many people who watch this will sart to change there lives. Life is short and we all should live it to the fullest. I plan on living mine...how about you?

6/26/06
Carole MacDonald
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

While channel-surfing I came across your documentary on PBS and was RIVITED to the T.V. set until the end.

I can't ever remember watching anything so emotionally draining, but on the other hand, it made me understand more fully that we are all a human family.....that we all have feelings and react alike in so many ways. I felt so close to everyone in the documentary; the families, the children and the staff at the hospital. I was so proud and impressed with them all.

It was painful in the extreme, but so beautifully done. It fhas given me courage to face whatever I have to face in the future. I hope I do so with the dignity and the courage that those families and their dear children did.

Thank you for the that experience.

6/26/06
April Crowder
St.Petersburg,Fl

Thank you for an eye opening film.My daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer-3-15-06.The film showed me some thing we can look for ,I help that you will do another film that deals with other forms of cancer.The family's were so strong.What I learned from this film is to always stay involved in my daughters treatment,never leave her along ,and always be open with family and friends,most important commuciate with the medical staff.thanks again.(ps.will you do a film that show how the sibling deal with everything)

6/26/06
joyce

A Lion In the House totally mesmerised me. The children and their families were so profound. I felt my heart sink when Justin, Tim and Alex died. I believe I am a better person for watching this.
The love I witnessed for these children from their families. Wow! I have a difficult time with stress of all kind and these kids were so brave, so precious. Their families too were so brave. I am sorry I could not have been there for them to ease some of their sorrow. I was so happy to see the smile on Tim's face when he went to Chicago. I learned so much about life by watching this show and I will never look at life in the same way again. The medical staff too were fabulous. I have had medical problems throughout my life but none as serious as cancer.I know now how the family of my cousin felt when she died of cancer. Her mother died suddenly and her family informed us my cousin deteriorated rapidly hours after witnessing her mother die. Less then a week later she too died- on my birthday. I did not want to believe that she was dying even though her brother in law is a medical doctor. I have made bad choices letting little things bother me when others have to suffer so much heartache. It proves that there is so much love and caring in the world if we choose to look for it. I have though always seen the good in people even when others don't see anything good about them.

6/26/06
Rebecca Lindeman
Green Bay, wis.

I am a leukemia survivor myself. I was diagnosed with ALL when I was 7 years old. I went through Chemo and can relate to losing friends to this disease.
I called friends and made them watch it because like many other survivors I don't think alot of people understand what our families go through and us.
I am a proud Mom of 2 kids and am thankful everyday for them considering they told me I probably wouldn't have children. I also worry alot about them having to go through what I did.We had a scare when my daughter was 18 months old. She had swollen lymph nodes and they biopsied one because of my history. All is fine now. Thank You so much for making such a great documentory even though it was very hard to watch.

6/26/06
Jill
Phoenix, Arizona

I am a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and have been away for a few years. This story meant so much to me on two levels. It was heartwrenching and educational, but also provided a look back at my city and a hospital that I always loved and now love even more. I was so knocked over by Tim and Alex's stories specifically. Tim because I was positive that I'd seen him at the Mcdonald's he worked in and just couldn't believe that someone I'd seen even on such a minor level had lived such a powerful life in such a short time. Alex because she was such an energetic and enthusiastic little girl. She lived with such fervor. It made me see how much time I have let slide by without my full participation. I appreciated this Independent Lens programs and hope that it will help those dealing with a lion in their own home. Godbless.

6/26/06
Lauren Nelson

After seeing this movie. I was really touch. And learn to be graceful. And life is to short. I was really inspire by Tim fight to say a life, even though he lost his battle. I keep on thinking about him. Like he was my relatives. I'm 15. And my auntie died of cancer a couple years ago. And I have the chance to get it. So when I turn 18. I going to start getting tested for cancer.

6/26/06
Chris A.
Cincinnat, OH

I am a mother of 3 children, one of which has leukemia. She was 5 when diagnosed, like Alex. Watching her story was gut wrenching in many ways. Alex was like so many of the kids we've met on our journey over the last year (one to go). I was not prepared at all for the end of Alex's struggle. The part where she finally went home, home to die, killed me. She was crying, not from sadness, but joy at going home. I will never forget her. Also, I thank God that we live here in cincinnati, the home of the best children's hospital in the country. We have met so many families from other states and even countries. I felt connected to the mothers and fathers of these children in a way I cannot explain. Wonderful film.

6/26/06
macon ga

I cried throughout the entire film. I watch these children show so much courage. My heart went out to those kids and also the parents because I know it was a lot to care those kids and their condition. I especially was so touched and moved by Tim. I said if I was close by him at the time I would have took him in. It was one thing for him to be battling that disease but the pain of his loneiness just was just to much. At time I could not understand his mother's reaction and her willing not to be there. As a parent myself I felt it was nothing more important in her life at the time or should have been was Tim. I'm not trying to judge but his spirit really drew me in. I was so hoping he would pull through. I've never seen so many doctor's and nurses care so much as I did on this broadcast.

6/26/06
karen richards
laurelton ny

My life have not been the same since the conclusion of "the lion in the house." I am the mother of two healthy girls and it is my greatest dread that I should hear that they may get seriously sick or die. I cannot imagine the heart break of the families of these children. I thank them for sharing such private and sad moments with others who can benefit from their experience. I have learned from this film that I should conscider my everyday problems a blessing because people are given much heavier crosses to bear each day. God bless the families keep them strong.

6/26/06
Kim Comparetto

I heard two stories about 'a lion in the house' on NPR on my way home from work Wed. I knew I had to watch it.
I tried to focus on the different 'characters' as the stories unfolded. I watched some of the doctors struggle with saying the word death/dying, and almost holding themselves away emotionally during the treatment.
Since I am a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I watched the nurses caring for the patients.
They dealt with the fears and anxieties that at times, some of the MD's could not.
I understand that the doctor or any other health care provider cannot afford (emotionally) to become so enmeshed with their patients that it affects their judgement.
I questioned whether or not Tim's primary nurse was crossing the line ethically.
In this case, I think the benefits far outweighed the risks and I am grateful there are nurses who care as much as she did.
I was greatly impressed by the knowledge and willingness to keep trying the MD's exhibited. That was important to the families. I did wonder if the emotional needs were being addressed, maybe there was more involvement from the psycholotist interviewed than there was time to show in the film. It seemed, especially with Justin's family, that his death could have been hastened if they had understood his need for them to let him go.
I also wonder if that even in the years since the film was finished that the health care field has become more adept at addressing the needs of end of life care.

6/26/06

As I sat and watched the second episode, I was in tears as it was 9 years to the day my sister Pat died of cancer. Although she was thirty-nine when she died it didn't make the process any easier.Your show was the best one I have seen in years. She had AML but had a bone marrow transplant at M D Anderson in Texas. the transplant went well but only to get a secondary cancer of Non-hodgkins Lymphoma. We are active in the relay for life in our town. I hope that you continue to make more films and that more people see the struggles that the whole family goes through. thank you and God Bless everyone with this terrible illness.

6/26/06
Jackie Kirkpatrick
San Diego, CA

As a cancer survivor, I watched your quality show about childhood cancer this past week. Many people would shy away from stories of children diagnosed with cancer, but their stories are important and I think need to be told. My hat is off to the nurses, doctors, and all caregivers who give so unselfishly of their lives and talents to treat these brave children. And my prayers go out to the family members who support and care for these cancer victims. I know how important that support can be during treatment for cancer. PBS should be commended for airing these meaningful and profound stories of families who have been touched by cancer.

6/26/06
Timothy
Roanoke, VA

I lost my son to a brain tumor (astrocytoma) in 2002. He was a few days short of his 18th birthday and Justin reminds me of him. He died so quickly - 1 month from first diagnosis - that we didn't have time to go through the mental anguish of watching our child slowly slip away. I think that was a blessing although I still resent every lost second that he will never have.

To Katherine in Parma OH, try contacting the Compassionate Friends in your area, www.compassionatefriends.com They may be what you are looking for.

The film was brilliant and tragic and utterly memorable. Thank you.

6/26/06
Mary
Landing, NJ
My husband started watching this program and as I came into the room he said "You don't want to watch this. It's going to be sad." But then I saw Alex, and I was hooked. Completely mesmerized by this little girl with the biggest personality going through the worst. What a smile. Those scenes of her at camp singing on her bunk make me want to cry again. And the joy she felt when she left the hospital to go home...I cried for two days for little Alex and I am still crying for such a beauty of a girl. Such tenacity and courage. I've learned from watching her and the relationship she had with her family.

I will be taping the re-airing of this show. Why? Why tape something that is so upsetting to watch? I will be giving it to everyone who has children and takes them for granted. And to everyone who says "I can't watch those things" ...how can you not? I felt like I had to watch ... to honor children like Alex.

Alex, I will never forget you.

6/26/06
Jovie Murtha
Groveland, Illinois

I now have notes taped up around my house that bear the words, "Cancer kids." Why?
I never ever ever want to take my children for granted.
I think of the times I lose my cool, raise my voice, or disrespect my children and I am brought to my knees in regret. My life has been changed by your film. I shall forever be thankful for the two red-head gifts that God has allowed me to nurture. I cannot fathom the pain these families felt, but their suffering was not in vain; for they have changed my life, and the lives of those I tell about your movie. I would have done the exact same thing Alex's Dad did. What an awesome love. To have a child is to forever allow your heart to walk about outside of your body.
I am sure these parents have spent time on their knees, praying, begging to take their child's pain for them. Let it be me, God, and not my child.
Thank you, families, for changing my life.
Especially to the babies who had just begun to live.

6/26/06
Lori Webre
Covington, La.

As a mom of a leukemia survivor, I boohooed throughout the whole 4 commercial-less hours. I almost wish there had been at least one commercial halfway though to run off to get more tissues and use the restroom. I cried uncontrollably -brought back many emotions that I hoped to never have again- but it some way- I needed to feel it again. My daughter has been OT for 3 years, 3 1/2 months. My husband I related VERY closely to Jen's parents, we laughed and agreed on so many of thier comments about whats important NOW. Bills will always be there, your children are only young once-don't miss it!

I would DO the exact thing that Alex's daddy did, no doubt. If he didn't do that, he would always wonder if that last little boost of chemo would cure her-and did he miss his chance to save his daughter. He should NOT feel bad about that-God bless him getting past any guilt, I don't believe there should be any. I KNOW we did not see thier whole journey through chemo and relapses and that can make a difference, but I still would have done the same. I feel the same about Justin's parents. 10 years of battling-that's all they knew how to do-10 years of fighting in battle!

I was VERY pleased to see that there are people out there who have not been through this journey with a child/niece/nephew/etc ACTUALLY watched and were life changed from it- how GREAT is that. The lives of Justin, Alex, and Tim will live on through them!! And cures will be found one day because thier lives changed someone elses for the better and they hopefully will act upon it. And the lives of survivors and future dx'd children chance at a full life will be even better! None of my friends watched and I even got comments back about not being able to handle it-well that's thier loss, it was a life changing wonderful look at some strong-lion-hearted children! Thank you for this film.

6/26/06
Karen Middleton
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I was so touched by this program, I almost feel I will never be the same again. I was touched by the courage of the children and their families and by the dedication and compassion of the doctors, nurses and caregivers. I do not have children of my own but can't imagine the pain and terror of a parent when they are told their precious child has cancer. Nor can I imagine the fear the children must have felt, the pain they endured during testing and treatment....

I was touched by all the children and I was especially touched by Tim in a way I cannot explain, Perhaps it was the what I saw in Tim's eyes - sadness, fear, even a little happiness at times.

Thank you for a documentary that showed the true struggles of families dealing with cancer, the huges highs & lows, the struggles with decisions that threaten to tear a family apart, and the toughness of these poor kids.

One thing I learned from this film was that it's important not to give up, but equally important to know when enough is enough. I know that Tim, Alex and Justin are all in a better place, free of pain and suffering.

6/26/06
Rex and Sharon Brown
Denver, Colorado

Thank you for airing A LION IN THE HOUSE. Besides being so beautifully moving, it is the most thorough examination we have ever seen on television of the everyday moral choices parents, children, doctors and nurses have to make. It puts to shame this country's abstract, oversimplified, and politicized debates about health care and the right to die. All policy makers should be required to view this film before uttering one word about these subjects.

Eloquent. Absolutely eloquent.

6/26/06
Rebecca Parkes

Working as a hospital and hospice social worker I felt emotionally prepared to watch A Lion In The House. However, after having a brief look into the lives of Justin, Alex, Tim, and the other children I realized that I will never be emotionally prepared to work with people with a terminal illness. (I cried during most of the documentary). I learned that becoming emotionally attached to my clients and crying with each death makes me human. As one doctor pointed out it is when we stop feeling for each death that we need to leave the field (pediatric oncology). Thank you for airing this important and moving documentary about childhood cancer.

6/26/06
Wanda Strange
Dallas, Texas

What an emotional, inspirational film! I watched from two perspectives. As an oncology nurse, I identified with the professionals, and I recognized the emotions and courage that I see in my patients daily. This week as been particularly difficult, with the loss of a patient who had battled childhood cancer for 23 years, dying at age 33. How he inspires me to make each day count!

On a personal level, I experienced again the pain of pediatric cancer. As the parent of a 22 year survivor, I was struck by the similarities of the cancer experience. My daughter was diagnosed with Medullo-blastoma (a brain tumor) at age 10. She was treated and remains cancer free today, 22 years later.

I identified strongly with Beth Moone, when she talked about becoming an advocate for her child. The long term effects of cancer and its therapy can be devastating. When the child looks healthy and things are going well, the education system can be a challenge. They don't understand the specific issues that may remain. Through out my daughter's academic career, I became her advocate in many ways. Some educators were great, others were less responsive. As the parent of an adult survivor of childhood cancer, letting go has been a necessary struggle.

I watched the film with my husband and my daughter. We were able to discuss emotions. I believe it gave my daughter a new perspective on our experience, and it gave her the opportunity to express some of the pain of isolation she has experienced. We cried together as we discussed our emotions and talked about many experiences. We were also able to discuss end of life issues and express our own desires for our lives.

I am very proud of the woman my daughter has become. Despite some residual struggles due to her previous treatment, she is a remarkable, independent young woman who has a lot to contribute to the world.

More and more children and adults are surviving cancer. I am passionate about survivorship issues. Merely surviving is not enough.

It is important that the quality of life be preserved and long term effects be addressed.

Thank you for addressing this important issue. Life is a gift to be celebrated and lived to the fullest!

6/26/06
Kerry westmont
Minneapolis, Minnesota

It has been a year since my Son has been diagnosed with Leukemia. I was struck with how realistic this show was in deplicting our every day lives. I was very moved and greatful that this topic has been brought to peoples awaness and consciousness. Thank You

6/26/06
M-JAY

PBS, YOU BROKE MY HEART!. I HAVE CRIED FOR DAYS NOW-- CAN'T GET TIM OUT OF MY MIND. THIS KID WANTED TO RUN AWAY FROM THIS THING. . . LION WHATEVER-WHEN IT GETS TO THAT POINT, DO NOT GIVE THEM ANYMORE CHEMO. I AM SURE CHEMO KILLED SOME OF THEM. HE WAS HEALTHY ENOUGH TO LIVE A FEW GOOD MONTHS- JUST LET IT BE- LET HIM ENJOY A FEW THINGS AND IF DEATH COMES IT COMES. THIS CHILD WANTED TO LIVE- GOSH, IT BROKE MY HEART. GIVE MY BEST WISHES TO HIS MOTHER. PLEASE, EVERYONE, DO NOT SMOKE NEAR CHILDREN-

6/26/06
Lauren Quinn
East Montpelier VT

I am the mother of a six year old boy who has spent the last 18 months being treated for leukemia (he has a year of treatment left), and a three year old girl who has had to take a background role more than I'd like. I encouraged friends and family all over the country to watch this documentary. I'm so glad I did; the film was amazing. I initially missed seeing our day to day struggles with medications and isolation and side effects portrayed for others to understand. Since my son is doing well--so far--I felt a little less connected to the movie than I'd expected. But when it was over, I realized that the stories shown were really our story, even if we have not faced some of the painful moments those parents faced. The connection is that at some point in their treatments, Justin and Alex and Tim were doing as well as my son is doing now. The turn their stories took happened later, in some cases after treatment was thought to be complete. Although most children with cancer today eventually do well, we parents must live with the knowledge that our stories could become Justin's story at any time. The lion is always with us.

6/26/06
Johanna Stalter
Grand Rapids, MI

I have just finished watching part one and two of this documentary and have been left with a feeling of total aw and admiration not only for the children who had to endure this horrifying disease and the courageous and dignified way they handled their struggle, but also for the families of those beautiful human beings! I am profoundly moved by Alex in particular. Never in my life, have I been more moved, or awed by any one person as I was with little Alex. Her strength and amazing beauty seemed ever present where even the strongest of men would have wavered. Truly this child was an angel among us, and a giant in the midst of men. God bless her I will NEVER forget her beauty, inspiration or strength. And to her father; who could ever fault you? Who could judge you for wanting to save that MOST precious life and doing what you thought best out of pure love. I wish all the best for you and your family especially your remarkable wife she too ( along with yourself) is an impressive human being. Your strength is inspiring!

6/26/06
Longmont, CO

If all of us who have witnessed this film donated time or money to this cause, we could make a difference. If all of us told one person to do the same we could make a difference. I urge you to do what you can. The next documentary I see on cancer I would like to be entitled "The Cure: How Scientist Found The Cure For Cancer."

6/26/06
Joe & Jessica Nickerson
Hampton, NH

Oh my -- where to begin. My wife and I were overcome with grief for all the families involved in this production. The strength and courage shown by the children and their respective family members is simply stunning.

I am the proud uncle of a bi-racial child, and as such the death of Tim struck a particular nerve. Witnessing his journey from an immature, rebellious child to a young, thoughtful adult, forced to contemplate life or death decisions within such a short period of time was both heartbreaking and inspiring. TimĚs sweet, compassionate, altruistic nature hit us with hurricane like force. The sunny image of Tim on the shoreline, smiling in spite of it all has left an indelible memory that I shall never forget.

Thank you all for allowing us to bear witness to the incredible struggles and hardships, victories and defeats, laughs and grief, the tragic and the sublime. It is with utmost sincerity that we pledge our deepest sympathy, respect and best wishes for all.

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