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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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6/23/06
Heather
Atlanta, Georgia

My heart breaks for these children, their families, the hospital staff and for the many more untold stories of heartache and childhood cancer. I've worked in adult hospice programs for the last four years, but even that experience couldn't prepare me for what was presented in this series. I couldn't stop crying, but I couldn't look away. These were real stories of real courage. This film and the response to it, proves those children's struggles will not be in vain. Everyone's candor and honesty was truly inspirational. I wish there was a way to give these precious stories the same media coverage as the box office hits; then the world would know how short life truly can be. Every viewer is able to get a rare glimpse into the lives of these families and I am truly grateful for the opportunity.

6/23/06
Susan Raffa
Larchmont, New York

I watched Lion last night and I have been haunted by it, yet uplifted somehow. It was the most heart wrenching piece I think I have ever seen. My heart broke for every child and every family and may God help everyone of them involved. How we all wish we had a magic wand to just take all that pain and horror away. I was so incredibly moved by Tim. How brave and stoic he was. How I wished he could have gone to Disneyworld. It made us all want to help a local family who may be going through the same thing. Life, good health and family and just so precious, when you strip everything away, it is all we really have.

6/23/06
sharon
syracuse ny

i found the program a lion in the house flipping channels. the first sight i saw was of tim having a feeding tube inserted in to his nose immediately i wanted to find out about him as i watched i fell in love with the kids and the families i am a mother of 4 and the emotion i felt watching your program both parts absolutely moved me i couldnt sleep last night thinking about the families and how grateful we all should be for our lives and our loved ones your program was truly moving and inspiring

6/23/06
Washington, D.C.

This is a truly amazing film for which there are few words to adequately describe the emotions it has brought out in me. As the mother of a beautiful one-year girl, my heart literally breaks in two for what these families have endured. However, the families - and most especially the children - leave me in awe and with a deep appreciation for life. This film will stay with me for a long, long time.

6/23/06
New York City

I watched both parts of this show and cried through both. Like many others, I found the strength of the 5 children/young adults to be inspiring. I too have a family member suffering from a terrible form of pediatric cancer: Ewings Sarcoma. She is a spirited, beautiful 18 year old, who is approaching her 2 year anniversary with this terrible disease. I'd like to see the media presenting more shows that will alert the public to the suffering that occurs and hopefully, this knowledge will embolden our doctors, scientists, government to do more to research and find cures for pediatric cancers. My sincere condolenses to anyone who has lost a loved one to pediatric cancer.

6/23/06
Marianne
Athens, Ga

Last night as I watched Part 2, and as Justin was dying, my body just involuntarily took me to my knees. I was so humbled to be in the "presence" of such a valiant person. I stayed on my knees for the remainder of the film--"kneeling" before these incredible, holy, braver-than-brave people---all of them---the children, their parents, the medical staff, family members---all teachers for the rest of us. I was crying and sad, but mostly I was so honored to have "known" these people. Thank you for this film.

6/23/06
Carmen
Cincinnati, Ohio

This was a really touching documentary.

I was flipping through the channels on Wednesday night and noticed some Cinti landmarks and thought I would check it out.

I have recently lost my mother-in-law, two brother-in-laws and a young cousin to cancer. So I know how terrible this disease can be. I was amazed at how strong the kids were and how determined most of their parents were to keep them high on their priority list. I saw a down fall of being a single mom without a support group and seeing what effect that had on the kids. . I wanted to jump through the screen and be there to hold Tim's hand. I saw a need for counseling the family as that is a hard decision to make when it concerns your baby. It made me truly see the financial hardship it can cause on the middle class folks.

As I was watching I thanked God for my healthy son and for what seems like minor aches and pain that I go through.

I immediately wanted to drive down to Children's and offer to hold a child's hand, read them a book or just say a prayer with them.

I cried my self to sleep last night and ask God to keep a watch over our little ones. Thank you to the families that shared some precious moments with us and to the filmmakers who put it all together.

6/23/06
Mercie Bouck
Astoria, NY

I have been incredibly humbled by this film and the lives it so poignantly portrayed. I have not stopped thinking about Tim, Alex, Justin, Jen, and Al. Their strength, courage, and perseverance is so admirable. In the face of something so daunting, they handled it with the maturity of an adult while maintaining the innocence and spirit of a child. I have learned so much for them and their families.

I cannot shake the nagging question of why there is so little discussion and funding for childhood cancer. This film has compelled me to help in any way that I can and I hope it will do the same for others.

6/23/06
Tiffany Williams
Lubbock,TX

I would like to thank everyone involved. I can't tell you how this moved me. I saw the first part on 6-21-06, and so on last night when I was going through the channels I thought it was a rebroadcast. I left it on while I was cooking and caught the story about Tim Woods. This young man had an amazing spirit. It was something in his eyes that drew me into him. Thank you for making possible for him and his family to visit Chicago. I knew he would have loved the Grand Canyon, if he fell in love with the Nike Shoe store. The hospital staff was AMAZING. In all my years working in the medical field I don't think I have ever seen such compassion. With all the families in this story the all had one thing in common and that was their will fight, win or lose and not give up. I think we all can learn from that.

6/23/06
Versailles, KY

I am so glad to see that this was a nationwide release and not a local production. You did such a good job of showcasing what makes Cincinnati Children's Hospital such a beautiful place.

I think more than anything, the compassionate team response to making sure that Marietha was there for her son's end showed their focus. Her absence was not a medical issue. However, they treated with the same care, compassion and team focus as if it were. They didn't judge her for not being there. They approached it as a problem that needed to be solved. Tim needed her in order to have some meaning and quality of life in his last days. She needed to be there to say goodbye. They needed to find a way to make that happen. As a team, they helped her confront her grief so she could get on with living. What is so impressive about this hospital is it was not just the overworked social worker confronting this problem. It was the entire team of oncologist, nurses, psyciatrists and social workers confronting what was essentially an end-of-life issue, not a medical issue.

My daughter has a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis that causes tumors and aneurysms. She has had one of each (by age three). She had her oncology locally, but everything else at Cincinnati Children's as they have a team dedicated to her disorder. Cincinnati Children's is unlike any other hospital I've ever experienced in their absolute commitment to the value of every life. They are totally dedicated to giving sick kids and their families the best quality of life possible as well as world class medical care. They are worried about our convenience and how much her illness detracts from our family life. They schedule all of our appointments on one day so we don't have to drive back and forth. They have their own hotel in a converted ward if we have an early appointment. They even have a concierge to make sure out-of-town families have an affordable clean place to stay either in their facility or in another close by. They have teams dedicated to helping find ways to pay the bills. I've had administrators call to offer support and offer to babysit my child so I could get lunch. They take into account things like making sure a baby who can't be moved after surgery can still be nursed. They have rooms and showers for parents staying by the side of an ill child. If you are lost, even the janitors will take you by the hand and lead you to the right place. This is a truly beautiful place. Thank you for giving them such a beautiful showcase.

6/23/06
cumming,ga

I too just finished watching both episodes of A Lion in the house. As a former bone marrow transplant nurse, I was mesmirized by the fighting spirit in both the families and the children. Having seen such spirit in my practice, it brought back memories that I had pushed into the back of my mind. Seeing the dedication of my fellow nurses was touching, so many feel that nurses shouldn't get emotionally involved, but I've been there and know that it's impossible not to. My thanks to all those involved in the making of this film, I hope it gets wider circulation so that everyone can be touched as I was.

6/23/06
Dorie Nicoletto
Elburn IL

I was so moved by "A Lion in the House". It painted a complete picture and worked on so many levels.

I am in the countdown to my first chemotherapy for breast cancer and now know that I can never whine - not EVER - after watching the courage of these parents and their kids.

Thanks to all of the families for sharing, and inspiring me to be a bigger person.

6/23/06
saundra
scottsdale, arizona

My heart goes out to all those involved. I was pulling for the families and especially for the medical teams and the decisions they made. Thank you for all that you shared. God bless all of you.

6/23/06
Phoenix, AZ

As Jen's father articulates in the second part, his daughter's illness instantly made his family realize what is really important. This is cliche, but just watching this film gave me that jolt of perspective. I could hardly believe the courage, humor and love these families demonstrated. It was heartwrenching and inspiring to watch. We're so accustomed to happy endings in this country that I honestly expected that everyone would recover. I was was sad when Justin, then Alex and then Tim passed away. I am grateful to the families, the doctors and the filmmakers for sharing their stories.

6/23/06
Julia Donovan
Chestertown Md.

I watched this series with my mouth wide open. I was in awe of the honesty and truthfulness of all the parties, docs, kids, mothers etc. Each of the kids taught me something different about the human spirit. Alex still saw joy throughout all her pain. What a smile she had. Justin taught me about the endurance of the human spirit. What bravery and what a commitment to life. Tim taught me that life is truly unfair at times but people will provide strength and hope for others. I admired Tim's honesty and simple reasoning concerning so many difficult decisions forced on him. The two remaining children, Jena and Al, I wish them the very best. Their mothers are inspirational and i hope continue to stay strong. Thank you for a televison show that captured my attention and made me count my blessings...for there for the grace of God.....

6/23/06
Christine
Sherwood Park, Alberta, C

I had read on a CaringBridge site that this show was going to be on so I stayed up late to watch it both nights.

I have been following stories of children with childhood cancers online through CaringBridge for years now. However until I saw this two part show I had NO IDEA of what it really is like for these families and their medical family.

My heart broke for all the children.

Justin's fight was so long and I was so upset that after 10 years of kicking cancer's butt he lost his battle.

Alex, wow what a sweetie. I honestly thought she was going to make it through this and cried my eyes out when she didn't. Life seems so unfair.

Tim had me wrapped around his little finger. That boy was so full of life and the film captured looks of emotion in his eyes that broke my heart. He drew me in and then showed me just how painful, scary, and horrible cancer is. I wanted so bad to reach through the TV, hug him and make everything better.

Al and his mom have such a wonderful bond. Her strength was so apparent in how strong he was, then again it may have been that she got her strength from him. The two of them together have the strength to take anything on. I pray he stays well and lives a LONG happy, healthy life!

Jen also a miracle child. I am so glad to read in the update at how well she is doing in life.

THANK YOU Independent lens and to the families for allowing us into your lives at such a vulnerable time. Watching clips of your experience with going through childhood cancer was so touching, educational and inspirational. THANK YOU!

6/23/06
Louisiana

As I watched this film I became overwhelmed with emotions. I cried not because of the sadness,but because of the strength! These children knew their possible outcome and yet they still held on. The parents, I can't understand what they must have been going through? Thank You for allowing me the chance to share in your experiences. Hold on and stay strong.

6/23/06
Atlanta, GA

This film really brings to light the health disparities in children with cancer who come from a single parent family. Tim's story really touched me because for five days he was in the hospital alone. My heart ached when he received chemotherapy treatment alone and when the nurse asked how he was going home; he was going home in a cab alone. I really applaud his nurse, Connie, for taking him under her wing.

6/23/06
Debby
Oxon Hill, MD

I want to know when did Tim started having cancer coming into his body? When saw the show I was crying about Alex the little girl who died, and also Justin, and Tim. That is really is painful thing to see them struggle everyday. I had a cousin name Katrina who died in 2001, she died of aids. I had lost my father in 2003.

6/23/06
Kathy Lawhorn
Harrison, Ohio

Wow! What a moving and awesome exierience you have given to us all. My husband and I were so privileged to see a sneek preview of the film at the Arnonoff Center. I had my box of tissues throughout parts one and two and just ached for all the families involved. Bless them for allowing us to share in the most personal parts of their lives. I cannot stop thinking about their children who were so very brave through it all. Also blessings to the wonderful doctors who are so committed to trying to cure these children of this dreaded disease.

Hang in there Julia with your treatments! (I'm a 4 year bi-lateral kidney cancer survivor)

6/23/06
Chester Hawthorne

The other night I watched part 1 with Justin in it, it tore me up inside knowing that it was already too late for me to help him. This will probally not get posted because of the all mighty dollar, but the fact is, God left a cure for most cancers in the seed of apples and apricots, the FDA and drug compnies have known for years but will not let it get out for lose of money from cancer everthing, chemo,drugs,ect. Our website explains it all..
www.GodsCancerCure.com

6/23/06
Cissy Watkins

Courageous, Brave, Beautiful are the words that describe the kids and families in this film. Amazing! My husband is a rectal cancer survivor and he and I were captivated both nights watching this film. These kids give us so much courage and strength. We will Never forget them and the film did an amazing job in letting us feel like we know them and feel connected to them. Their spirits and faces are staying with us.
I'm happy to see information on this website about resources for caregivers. This is an area where much more is needed, and you provide lots of helpful tools.
I heard about the film on NPR radio the day of the first airing, which resulted in our watching it that night. It was important to hear on the radio broadcast that the filmmakers had agreed to stop filming whenever the families requested. If I hadn't known that, when watching the film I would have wondered. It might be helpful for viewers to hear that information when the film is shown on TV.
I'm wondering how Julia is doing with her cancer treatment? We wish her healing and recovery and Thank You for doing such Amazing, Powerful, Beautiful work!

6/23/06
Jean
Eagan Minnesota

I watched A Lion in the House for the last 2 nights and I have to say I had tears both nights. The show was amazing. The children and the families and staff touched me and I want to say Thank You for sharing.

6/23/06
Jan Mucka
Cranberry Twp. PA

Oh my, where do I begin? Your special on pediatric oncology really touched me. I have been a nurses aide for 15 years and have also done some hospice care for the elderly. What I do gives me a special feeling that I can help someone, even possibly, be there for them when they are dying. This was an excellent film, letting it all show. My heart goes out to those families and others dealing with these issues. I look forward to helping someone tomorrow, even more so, after watching this film. Thanks!!

6/23/06
Daniel Barberio
Minneapolis Minnesota

I would like to Thank the independant Lens for the film a Lion in the House. I will never be the same. I learned through the eyes of a child the meaning of COURAGE and the strength of even the smallest child. Tim I hope to meet you in the next life. I will forever be indebted to you for touching my heart with your short life. May God Bless you in the heavens and your family left behind.

6/23/06
Jennifer Day
Royal Oak, MI

Amazing program that will stick with me for a long time. I would love to see the nurses on the floor given credit on the "Medical Professionals" page...teasing the kids like any "typical" day then standing around the bedside in the last moments...they are awesome.

6/23/06
Robert Butler
Long Beach, CA

This is the first film I've watched of the Independent Lens series and I wanted to say that if all of them are as informative, enlighting and educating as this one, I will be looking forward to seeing others topics and issues. Please keep up the good work.

Also, would you forward my deep appreciation to the production staff, parents, childern and all the healthcare workers for allowing us a glimse into their world, and keep up the good work.

6/23/06
Margit
Los Angeles, CA

"A Lion in the House" what a great, informative and sad program. Thanks!

6/23/06
Kimberly Sheppard
Lynchburg, VA

I've never had cancer, and prayerfully I never will. I watched A Lion in the House and suddenly realized I don't have problems. Whatever problems I thought I might have are nothing compared to what the children and their families faced. Thanks for making the film and thanks to the families for sharing their stories. It's rare to see such strength and may they be blessed.

6/23/06
pamela hannula
saline, mi

I just wanted to tell you how moving your film about young cancer patients was to me. It has affected me deeply. Thank you for this moving and informative film.

6/23/06
Molly Fox
Wichita, Kansas

This film was amazing. I love independent docs and respect the art of film. I was touched by these stories and have been talking about them since I watched last night.

Thank you for giving me a new perspective!

6/23/06
Amelia Klein
La Jolla, Ca.

Excellent show, A Lion in the House. Thank you. PBS is the best.

6/23/06
Chrissie Thompson

I have written this email several times now  and each time the words are never enough. The families of these courageous, incredible people have touched me so deeply. I am fortunate in that I have never had to experience such gut-wrenching heartache. It is beyond my comprehension how one survives a loss of such magnitude (losing a child). I am so touched and so humbled by the grace and strength with which each individual in these families dealt with the unimaginable. Please, please pass onto them my gratitude and sincere sense of awe for their ability to share their stories and touch me. I will never be the same  hopefully I will become a more giving, compassionate person!

The producers of this film have my utmost respect. As a viewer, I felt an intimate connection with these families without feeling like an intruder. That is quite an achievement and one which is so very rarely experienced in broadcast television today.

The dedicated staff of Childrens Hospital of Cincinnati is the best. I would entrust my son or daughter to their care in a heartbeat.

Thank you to Independent Lens and to each of those families who were strong enough to share their incredible stories.

6/23/06
jill m
Winterville, GA

It is shameful that the etiology of this childhood disease was altogether omitted. Please do the world a favor & reveal WHY we have this epidemic. Families deserve much better.

6/23/06
Jessica Howard Ennis

Thanks so much for having the courage to air the whole, gut-wrenching

truth about families who endure the seemingly endless trials of having a

child with cancer. Thank you for showing the bravery of each child who

is fighting for his or her life -- and those who faced death with

dignity and courage.

As a writer and editor at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, it is my job

to shed light on the plight of our patients with cancer and other

life-threatening injuries or illnesses, and I now realized that I have

only scratched the surface when telling their stories.

This film has opened my eyes to something I thought I fully understood.

My father is a two-time cancer survivor (Hodgkin's Disease 29 years ago

and Thyroid cancer 2 years ago), but I never had to see him suffer

through anything worse than a surgery and an overnight hospital stay.

I was moved to my core, and I hope this film will be viewed by as many

people as possible -- cancer affects so many, and it is vital that we

understand all the ways a person's life is changed from dealing with it

themselves, or a family member or loved one.

Siblings of children with cancer have a very hard time. Their lives are

changed at a critically young age, and they need resources for support

too.

There needs to be strong programs in place to educate teachers and

classmates of a child with cancer. Child Life Specialists at Vanderbilt

travel to schools to visit with classmates of a child with cancer in

hopes he or she will not become an outcast, will not be forgotten, etc.

But children with cancer and other illnesses desperately need long-term

tutoring and other support to help get them back on track, regardless of

their socio-economic status.

I also wanted to write to other families to say that survivorship of

childhood cancer is much higher than you might think after seeing this

film, doctors and researchers are fighting every day to increase

survivorship and have come very far -- even since this documentary was

filmed.

Thank you for making this film.

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