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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Anne W.
St. Louis MO

My nephew received 3 years of treatment for luekemia while I was living in another state. I kept in phone contact but never did I force myself to consider the whole picture of what my nephew and and his entire family endured until "A Lion in the House". I could not pull myself away. I deeply, deeply appreciate the gift the families in the film gave the world in allowing the camera lens to see what few see in the world of cancer, death and life after death. Many thanks to the filmmakers and their excellent editing. Thank you, PBS, for another quality program.

whitesboro, ny

I watched both shows and am so glad I did. There was so much bravery from these children all through their sickness. And the nurses, Drs. and parents. My goodness. God bless them all.I know i am always going to donate what i can to knock out this nasty disease.

Rebecca Gilliam
Smithfield, VA

All of the children in this film are truly beautiful and they are like no other kids. They touch your mind, your heart, and your soul. I felt privilege to have been able to see their journey and their family's journey. I wish everyone could see this film.

Elgin, IL

This series took an honest and compassionate look at the challenges facing pediatric cancer patients and their families.
Having lost my daughter to a rare form of cancer at the age of seven, I found myself transported back to the days of her diagnosis, treatment,death and the rebuilding of our lives. The impact of pediatric cancer on a family can be profound and long-lasting. Thank you and the families for sharing the stories of these special children.

KC Carpenter
Cumming, Georgia

I would like to express my thanks for this wonderful eye opener you presented to the viewers. This series educated and touched me in such a way that I plan to get involved in helping these children and families in every way I can find. The programs you provide are much richer than any amount of money in the world.. This program really touched my sole..., and changed my view of life. thank you PBS

Portage, MI

I have to admit that I rarely watch PBS programs but saw something in regards to "A Lion in the House." I decided this was a program I needed to see. I just watched the second part after also watching part 1 last night. I am so filled with emotion that it is hard to put it all in words. Seeing little Alex cry tears of joy upon leaving the hospital, Tim's face on the roller coaster, Al singing his rap, Justin teasing his mom about the description of the sores in his mouth, Jen crying in pain with the spinal taps. Their faces are all imprinted in my mind. My heart breaks over the loss of Justin, Tim and Alex. I feel joy for Al and Jen and will pray that they remain cancer free.
Thank you for this program. It has really touched me and has put a spark in me to get more involved in helping children with cancer.

Kelly Cange-Oaks
Cincinnati, Ohio

I just finished watching "A Lion in the House" and was moved to tears the entire 4 hours as I got to relive many of moments that were shared. I was priviledged enough to be a caretaker to these children in the film. I remember each and everyone of them and their families for the unique, special, brave, loving, generous, courageous children and families that they were and are. I am so lucky to have been touched by these families and the other families I have taken care of over the years.

I am no longer practicing at this time, but there is not a day goes by that I do not pray for all the children and families who are dealing with these horrible diseases. These kids teach you so much about life, how to live it and not take anything for granted. I am a changed person forever having known these children and I am truely blessed for being allowed to be a part of their lives. I know one day soon I will go back to taking care of oncology kids because it is fulfilling, it is a gift. These children get into your heart and they never leave. GOD BLESS you all.

P.S. If you haven't visited Alex's art corner, please do. She was a fantastic little artist and a fantastic little girl, with the biggest smile and the best laugh. I still have all the artwork she ever gave me.

Veronica Newborn
Kinston, North Carolina

I was flipping through the channels and stumbled upon the show. From the first second, I couldn't turn away. The children showed more courage and strength than most adults. I couldn't stop crying throughout the show. It was so sad to see what the children had to go through to try to survive. I felt as if I knew each of the featured families. I couldn't stop thinking about the children after the show was over. I"ll never forget them.

Potomac, MD

This was an amazing film. I appreciate that it was filmed for six years, so that the public was able to see the many stages these patients must go through, as well as the parents. When Alex's mom was talking several months after the death, she pointed out that things were not back to normal. Once a child is lost, lives can't go back to normal for the family and people involved.

I hope this film is viewed by many people, so that people are educated, inspired, and thankful for family/friends in their lives.

A special bravo should go out to the staff at the hospital. They become so involved with patients and care so much. While they can't save every life, they can love, support, and care with all their heart for these angels at the most difficult points in their lives.

It was wonderful when the staff put together a trip to Chicago for Tim. I was surprised that there was no involvement or mention of the make a wish foundation, found at www.wish.org. They could have helped get him to Disney World.

I know that I was overwhelmed with emotion (especially in the 2nd episode), and that many other viewers must have been as well. It must be a minute fraction, when compared to the emotions of the staff and family's. My heart goes out to every child, family and staff member in this film. I also hope this film brings awareness to the need for cancer research funding. A success rate of 75% in the developed world is unacceptable. Why should we settle for anything less than 100%? with NO RELAPSES! The researcher's studying to save these lives with a new treatment or cures, have or are working on PhDs/MD's. Many of them are working for $35,000 or under a year, while paying off the large amount of school debt they owe. There are researchers at NIH who can't afford to live around the area they are working in, because they aren't paid enough. They do so in hopes of eradicating cancer, fixing your children and family, and preventing disease. Illness can happen to anyone, anytime. Support a cause that you believe in. Run or walk in a race to show your support. Do something to support these family's, your family's, and other faimily's.

Doug Elsbernd
Ogden, IL

My son, Nathan, was 27 months old when the Lion entered our house, and has been cancer free for four years. As my wife and I sat and watched the show it brought back memories and emotions from our sons treatment.
I want to send my heartfelt thanks to the filmmakers for their work. I feel that they did a fanastic job in capturing the emotions that the families go through.

Anna Meyer
Ann Arbor, MI

Sometimes, in the daily struggles of being a doctor, I can lose sight of why I became one. Then a film like this completely recenters me in my purpose. Thank you.

Tammy Dearing
Perrin, Tx

i was channel surfing when i came upon "a lion in the room"...i just spent the last 2 hours in tears...
my husband and i are both cancer survivors...i am almost 5 years out of a stage 2B cervical cancer and my husband is a 2 year survivor of soft tissue sarcoma...watching those children go through their treatments was heart wrenching and brought back painful memories...the suffering and helplessness was so hard to watch and also the children who lost their fights were so strong and positive...very inspiring...the doctors were amazing and so were the families...
thank you for bringing it to us...and prayers to you all...

Windsor, ON Canada

It was by pure chance that I turned on the T.V. last night at 2:30 AM not being able to sleep...I like true stories so I thought I would watch....WOW, I was glued to the couch and in tears for most of the program...I didn't even know what I was watching and waited till the end 4:30 AM to find out and ultimitaley be directed to this site...I am amazed at the strenghth, positivity, and courage of everyone..the sweet children, the parents and nurses etc...I was happy to see that the nurses and doctors had so much genuine feelings for these individuals. I also felt like I knew these people..I am attached to them...I watched tonight as well and was in tears and still am. I cannot believe a show has impacted me this way. To the film makers of this program...I cannot thank you enough for giving me a glimpse of what chilhood cancer is like...I had no idea! I was oblivious to the fact it is so prevelent...wow..where have I been. I am going to savour a little more each day, my children because of this program...I am going to see if my local hospital needs any volunteers. I am a helper by nature and am inspired. Thank You so much...

Columbus, OH

Thank you for airing this documentary. I had the privilege of knowing some of these families as their children attended our American Cancer Society Camp Friendship (scenes of Alex were at that camp.)

Our camp was made possible in large part because the medical personnel from Childrens Hospital volunteered at our camp. They are extremely caring and dedicated professionals truly caring about each of their patients.

What amazing spirits our campers had. They knew the seriousness of their illness but that didn't keep them from being normal 7 - 21 year olds (fun loving, onery sometimes, but also deeply caring about each other. I think because of their experience they have a greater sense of caring about others.

We were a part of the beginning of this film and it is heartwarming to see the final production. It is very sensitively done(thank you Julia and Steve). Credit also goes to the families as well as the medical team for participating and allowing us to learn from them.

Jennifer Shutt
Enola PA

As a 1 year non small cell squamous carcinoma (lung cancer) survivor, I was touched deeply by those wonderful kids.
I wanted to express my feelings regarding my reaction after the show. You see, I was and still do whine about the pain and current radiation therepy I am recieving now. After seeing all those families and their kids go through hell and back-even for just one more day...
I am ashamed of the way I whine and moan about this hated disease, and how it related to me. I learned, mostly by watching Tim, alone and scared with no one for him to vent to. His mom, God bless her was so busy helping others, and being strong for her son, like Tim, she had no one to comfort her.
What I learned was to appreciate each day in remission I have, attend all therepy treatments aimed at my cure, and lastly, thank God for my blessings.
To all the families and film makers, thank you. Thank you for showing each and every child, mom and dad and docs.
I love all of you and yoour spirit of love, faith and family.
God Bless you all!!!

kathryn cleary
wichita falls, tx.

It was a privilege to witness and experience this film What courage and love expressed by not only the families and children, but the caregivers and the film-makers! I am a clinical social worker who has been involved with serving people for over 40 years. This film portrays the life of those on the battlefront in a way I've never seen. Thank you so much. This gives hope for the future of mankind, that the dignity and resolve of humanity continues, despite what we hear and see in the news.

Edwina King
Detroit, MI

I too stumbled across this program accidentally and I am so glad I did. I found the program touching and informative. I know someone who has battled cancer as a child (currently, he is in remission) and to see the stories and struggles with cancer really makes to appreciate the little things.

Katja Walker

What struck me is that the backgrounds of the families made them deal with the illness of their children so differently - this mirrors what I have observed in our small community with myself and others dealing with the severe disabilities of their children.

It appears to me that those of us with a better education (and often some economic advantages because of this) seem to have more options (or are more aware of our options and more likely to advocate, research and be more assertive) in dealing with a lot of these issues and the health care professionals we depend on, even though like so many of these families, the medical and other expenses are crippling to anyone who is not really wealthy. Like so many of these families our outlook changed totally - things that were important before are no longer the focus of our lives, our children are our focus and so are the children and families in this community. Exactly like one of the mothers in the film I became a stay at home mother grudgingly and eventually accepted and made the most of this role, putting a lot of energy into volunteer work.

I was disappointed in some of the decisions of the health care professionals in this documentary and as a parent I would probably have stepped in and pushed for another decision. The child that wanted to go to Disney World and instead went to Chicago and the boy who wanted to go to camp. Again I think the lack of education and economic status of the parents made looking for and finding those alternatives that are out there less likely. The fact that the doctors took do long to intervene and work with Tim's mother was disappointing.

It took a frank discussion with one of the Neonatalists when my son was born to come to terms with the DNR issues - something most of us don't think about until we are faced with something like this or a film like this.

I started feeling a little more hopeful when some of the parents came to terms with their decisions, and the spunk and fun loving nature of some of these kids was a delight - I think that the only doctor who really understood this was the female physician!

One thing that was mentioned with two of the families (I was only able to watch Part II unfortunately) that I would like to see more of - is the focus on and intervention with the siblings of these children - it is so difficult to involve them appropriately and to find and make the time to help them get over all the confusing feelings of guilt, jealousy and neglect.

The other thing that was so striking is that there is nothing in place to keep these kids connected to their schoolwork and social circle - that really needs to be addressed right from the start and a plan put in place to ensure that this happens, especially for families where this may not be a priority.

I would like to see this film in it's entirety again and I think it was excellent in the low key way it addressed so many many issues faced by these families and others like them.

Independence, MO

This show was absolutely amazing. I just started my job at Childrens Mercy in Kansas City and the show made me want to change my floor. These children and families were brave. Children are so amazing, they are truly my heroes. No matter what is going on in there life.. they go on. My heart goes out to Tim who I felt didn't have the resources he so desperatly needed. I would like to think that with some extra support from his family or volunteers he could have made it. I am happy to know that the children that didn't make it are peaceful in heaven. They finally made it home.

Falmouth, MA

A beautifully made film. I haven't cried in many years, I did tonite. Thanks.

cleveland oh

Thank you for making the documentary and my heart goes to all the families and medical professionals who were followed, and to those who are in the midst of the battle now!

I do want to express my deep gratitude, awe and compassion for the nursing staff in the hemoc dept. They showed a dedication, compassion and a commitment to the families and patients that was very inspiring!!! I was hoping to read about them as well on the website - they deserve much respect and gratitude. They are def an inspiration to the whole practice of medicine.

julie soule
foxboro, ontario

Wow! What an amazingly powerful documentary. I have never in my life been moved by a film like this one. I even let my 10 yr. old stay up (until 11:00!) to watch with me. One of the things that I admired was they way the Ashcrofts worked together (ex-husband, ex-wife, new wife). They should be so proud of how they pulled together for their son/stepson. Many others in the same situation could not be so proud.

I felt "honoured" that these families allowed us to be a part of their journey. this film has changed my life.....and my kleenex box is almost empty.

Roxanne Charlson
Cambridge, MN

My deepest thanks to these children and their families who have allowed us to follow them on their journey through the unthinkable.I want them to know the many ways their lives have enriched us. Thanks, too, to the filmmakers for their expert portrayal of these special people. What a gift they have all given us.
As a teacher of high school kids, I am reminded that every child is precious, and when they are facing challenges they need an extra measure of understanding and care.

Laurel, MD

I am so impressed at the film and how it showed how a diagnosis of cancer affects not just the person who is diagnosed, but the entire family. It was so refreshing to see the relationships the patients and families had with the nurses. As an oncology nurse, I saw the reality of managing both the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of cancer. I'm glad that the audience got to see that the nurses really bond with the patients and families. We love to share the fun times, but are not afraid to share the hard times also. Also, I loved that you showed when one of the nurses was crying, that the other nurse was comforting her. We take care of each other so we can pass that on to the families.
This movie was a wonderful and very honest look at what people go through. I will keep all the families in my prayers.

Brenda Hulbert
Edon, Ohio

What a wonderful and inspiring program. Thanks to all the families in the film that shared their most private moments. In Oct. of last year the lion came into our house and I know how difficult it is. Also a big thanks to Lance Armstrong and his foundation for all the work they continue to do to raise awareness.

Ruthven, Ontario Canada

I too am a mother to a little girl Alexandria (Alexx for short) who at 8 years old was diagnosed with AML. She is now 13 years old and has been in remission for over 4 years.

Watching your movie for the last two nights touched me like no other program. The children and families depicted were like watching our own lives unfold during Alexandria's illness.

The children portrayed the raw courage they needed to fight their illness. My heart goes out to all their families.

I went outside and sobbed, looked up to the sky and thanked God for saving our absolutely amazing daughter, Alexx.

Thank you PBS. Thank you for bringing childhood cancer to the forefront of people's minds and hearts. It's where it should be and where it should stay until no parent ever hears the words "your child has CANCER."

I have always known how lucky Alexx was and is and I am grateful for her sheer existence.

Our entire family is ..... and prays all will continue to be well with her always.

Alice (Mom to Alexandria -dx with AML in July 2001 - Remission over 4 years and counting)

Rachel Karr
Garfield Hts., Ohio

As I sit and read all the comments about this program I cant stop crying feeling for all the kids and familes all that they have endured for the fight for life.. I am a mother of 3 healthy children and it really made me think not to take for granted what was givin to me by god himself. I want to thank all of the familes,caregivers,those who made this film possible, and most of all the children who I loved from the moment I layed eyes on each and every one of thier lives they are so brave.
May they all rest in peace. I pray for all the familes who have shared their stories.

L. Williams
Gaithersburg, MD

Although upsetting & tragic I encouraged my 10 year old daughter to watch this with me. We cried together and discussed how important it is to live each day to its fullest. Thank you "A Lion In The House" for this real "reality" story. My new saying now when my kids "think" they have a problem will be, "Just remember, there is a lion in the house!" Hopefully a reality check will set in and there so called problem will diminish. Bravo...........

St.Thomas, Canada

This movie touched my heart so deeply. These families are amazing. I couldn't help but feel brokenhearted with them. My father passed away just under a month ago from cancer. I know how I am feeling, I know how it felt for me to hold his hand while he took his last breath. I want to extend my love to these families. Sometimes we're given Angels for a short period of time, who make such an imprint on our lives. These are those Angels.

Windsor, ON Canada

I just wanted to commend you for putting this film together. My daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 2. She lost her battle after 18 months. It will be 1 year this June 30. Finally someone has shown what it is like dealing with this dreadful disease. A LION IN THE HOUSE was a very real account of what life is like when you are fighting the fight of your life. The ups, the downs, the uncertainties...Thank you for telling it like it is.

Newport Maine

My heart truly goes out to all the familes and survivors in this show. I can not begin to imagine the heart break of losing a child. Alex's family especially touched my heart. I have an 8 year old with Autism and I am thankful I have those bad days. You will be in my prayers. They all walk with God and the angels.

Ellicott city, Maryland

What a powerful film! I lost my 24 year old son to metastasized testicular cancer this past Monday evening. He was diagnosed 18 months ago and complained very little about the chemo, tests, 3 brain surgeries and other horrible things to go through not to mention the time waiting in doctors offices. We were told to say "goodbye" to him from our hospice team .He lasted 39 days because he was so young. It was so hard but we all did it in our one way.It is a horrific time for the whole family. Our younger son could not go to his high school graduation because he didn't want to leave his brother. We will work very hard to warn young boys and men about a very private,and rare but possible deadly form of cancer. Thank you for your documentary!!

Canton, Georgia

I happened upon this great film tonight, and am thankful to have seen it. I know I will never forget the names faces of the children who passed, and their stories. I will also pray for the children in remission that they continue to be.
The story also shows that no matter what color of the family, or the money you have, we all want the best for our babies and children...and they deserve it no matter what.


As a worker with pediatric cancer patients, I have to thank the families and filmmakers for sharing their stories. It has allowed me to grieve for the children I have known who have died by touching emotions that have been buried and it has also helped me to gain insight for my current work with those that are surviving.

I am so grateful however, that as we move forward in the fight against cancer, more comprehensive care is being offerered at many children's hospitals, to help siblings, survivors, and families carry on.

These five children and their families are so brave to share their most painful and personal stories with us. Thank you.


Your sincere portayal of the children's health care workers is very accurate. Our best efforts to remain neutral and detached are impossible when dealing with children. We will definitely develop a personal relationship if that is what "our" children nee in their lives. We get it. We get that their short lives are all they get. They are so very brave. I am so happy that you portrayed their braveness in such a sincere and meaningful and accurate way.. Thank You.

mrs. faye williams
newburgh, ny

good evening.my husband and i just finished watching the program about children with cancer.i've had family members die in my family with it allso,but i must say it was extremly touching. it brought tears to my eyes and as i'm writing this message i'm still in tears cause it brought memories back when my father passed,but it wasn't cancer.but what touched me the most was the same way your son was breathing,moaning with pain was the same exact way how my dad was breathing.i'm so hurt right now,i tell u know lie.my heart goes out to you dearly,seriously,but at least he was a very strong young man and he handled it very well......remember i love allways and my heart goes out to the family.

Karen Smith
Plano, TX

What an unbelievably moving program. I don't even know what to say. I have a 13 month old son, and cannot imagine what these families have gone through. Thank you to them for sharing their stories. To the mother that stated at the end of the program that she "wanted to make a difference somehow, but wasn't sure how".....You already have. Thank you.

Eddie L. Miles
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

After reading some of the other comments, I doubt that I could say anything any better. However, I feel compelled to say something and I feel compelled to do something. My heart weny out to the families who had to deal with such a tragic episode in their lives. I was especially touched by the medical staff, who cared for these children, and to see the compassion they felt for their patients. It was all very sad, I cried with them. It restores your faith in mankind to see people caring for people, no matter what race you are.

Arlington, VA

Thank you for this touching documentary. I finished medical school recently, and I am about to embark on residency. Although I will not be working with children primarily, your film showed me the importance of humanity in medicine. I hope to take the lessons learned from your film and become a stronger and more empathetic physician. Thank you!