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When LION premiered on PBS, ITVS established a "talkback" message board on the PBS website, where viewers could post reactions to the film. The site was flooded with responses, of which these are just a few:

A Lion in the House is an extraordinary film. My daughter is a childhood cancer survivor. Needless to say, I basically wept throughout this film as so many memories of ten years ago came flooding back. I wept for the people in this fine production. If anyone ever wanted to get a taste of what it is like to have your entire life shift on it's axis then this is the right show to watch. My daughter is well because of the wonderful treatment she received. This film showed how loving the medical people are with children while they are going through mind boggling treatments. Kudos to the film makers for letting others know how huge a need there is for more cancer research to be done. When your child gets sick, there is nothing you won't do that might make things come right. I wake up every single day of my life grateful that my daughter is still here. I take nothing for granted. This movie shows how one must re-prioritize your life. My hats off to the loving families that shared their personal war against cancer. A war that some win and some lose. My heart goes out to all of them. The film-makers and family made a beautiful film. They should all be proud of the work they have created. These children will live on in the hearts of so many as you can't help but care for them.

Nancy Tucker
Brunswick, Maine

I was channel surfing last night and came across the first part of the show. I soon became totally captivated by it. I learned that wisdom does not necessarily come with age. The way in which those five young people fought and tolerated their pain has made me reevaluate my priorities in life. I was profoundly touched by your show and I thank you so much for making it.

Michael Hallock
Dallas Texas

I may be working, but my day is consumed with images from happening onto your program last night. I kept trying to look away, but I couldnt. I went through an entire box of Kleenex and Alexs joy at returning home for the inevitable will remain with me for the remainder of my life, as well as the other children and their families and those tremendous doctors. I went into my childrens rooms (6/4) throughout the night giving them kisses as they peacefully slept without a care in the world. After that show, I will never complain about anything again. God Bless you and the families, and do let me know what can be done to assist. Full of thoughts for people I never met. I am

Mrs. Meg Senecal
Liverpool, NY

Thank you for producing this sensitive film about living with childhood cancer. I relate to it on many levels since I was a family doctor (of the old paternalistic school) for ten years before commiting the next thirty years to medical oncology after our 8 year old son came down with acute leukemia. Your Lion film vividly captures many of the dilemmas that are presented to the children and their families during the course of their disease. The continous weighing of harms vs. benefit with any proposed treatment is major source of stress for the caregivers. The way that a physician presents imperfect alternatives often determines the decision. I believe that it is the oncologist's responsibility to assess the various alternatives with his clinical expertise and to recommend the best choice of each individual patient. In childhood cancer it nearly impossible for the oncologist to maintain emotional detachment. Your Lion film effectively shows that, when a child gets cancer, the whole family has it. Thanks again for making this poignant film.

Richard Wolk, MD (Ret.)
Fresno, CA

I just finished watching "A Lion In The House" I cried all the way through it. We never realize how lucky we are until we see something like that. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. You know it's out there but when it's not happening to you or yours then you put it in the back of your mind. How deeply I was touched. I have a healthy daughter and I would never be able to go through what all these young people are going through. Maybe when it's you you develop a different kind of strength. You do anything when it comes to your child. I don't know how I finished watching it. It just broke my heart. I will thank the Lord every night for how lucky I have been. But I will also pray for all of those who aren't so lucky. This was a tough email for me. I will watch the second half tomorrow. I also realize I need to stop feeling sorry for myself which I tend to do. This puts everything into a different perspective for me. Thank you! My heart is aching tonight!

Judi Driscoll
Walpole, Mass

Bravo to you all,
I am so moved by this film. I am in awe of these young lives, and what you have so incredibly captured through the lens. I am a 3rd year medical student, and I am confident that this film is amongst the best I have ever seen approaching such a difficult subject in a such a poingant and compelling way. I truly hope I can help to make it a part of my school's curriculum, as physicians in training (and all of us for that matter) can learn so much from it.

Christopher Jensen
New York, New York

I am still in awe at how beautifully the film was put together. I feel like I know all of the families personally. I felt their pains, their joys and I felt sorrow when a child passed on. I cried. I cried. I cried. I am so happy for the survivors, that they are still going strong. Please know that we care about you and still care about the surviving families of those precious Angels gone on to be with the Lord. One thing is certain, none of those children, (Alex, Tim or Justin) are suffering again and that is most important. PBS, please show this again because our society doesn't want you to "Feel" anymore. Our society wants you to just become numb and that's not human nature. Your documentaries are the best and I will continue to watch them. Please let the families know that they are and will always be in our prayers, because you cannot watch a film like this and ever be the same again.

Angel M. Brown
Stone Mountain, GA

I unexpectedly tuned into A Lion in the House last evening, it was--I don't know if this is appropriate-- magnificent, I couldn't stop watching. I never write to a TV show, but I was so moved by the experience I had to reach out. As the mother of a healthy 5 year old boy, I am aware that life can change in an instant and lived my worst nightmares in the thoughts of illness coming to my child. I extend my deepest respect, admiration to the families and children in the film, their bravery, dedication and love is tremendous. You inspired and humbled me, you will be in my thoughts for a long time to come.

San Jose, CA

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.....

Julia Donovan
Chestertown Md.

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.

Chrissie Thompson

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. 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.

Jessica Howard Ennis

Thank you so much for a documentary that is REAL. I have been waiting to see this since last October when I heard about it in Atlanta, GA at a Children's Cancer Camp Meeting. My son battled Osteogenic Sarcoma for five years before he could not fight no more. This documentary reminds me of alot but also lets me see things through the eyes of the kids. It was my child going through it and I was looking at it like a parent. I am so glad I can look back and know that we let Dustin make the decisions for his treatment and when he said no more that is was ok. These could teach us alot more then anyone else will ever teach us. To continue my son's memory I now am a volunteer for a children's cancer camp out of Rochester, MN. To the filmmakers thank you so much for such a wonderful real film.

Jayne Bitker
Clear Lake, IA

I cannot begin to tell you how moved I was by your two-part program. I am a colon cancer survivor and endured seven months of chemo. I have such empathy for these children, parents and families. No one can truly understand the loneliness, heartache and intense internal pain they suffer until you have walked in their shoes. The professionals in this field are to be commended for their untiring efforts. Thank God for their knowledge, expertise and compassion.

Mary Ellen Bellingham
Sea Girt, New Jersey

This show was one of the most moving pieces of film making that I have ever seen. Never having endured anything remotely like what these families have gone through, the courage of everyone involved from the children to their families to the hospital caretakers (and their kindness and caring) was incredibly uplifting and magnificantly portrayed. The main thing that I took from this was they are, after all, children, and to see that demonstrated was a core part of this film. Kudos to the filmmakers and PBS for showing the film.

Diane Osgood
Hollidaysburg, PA

I too stumbled across this program and was absolutely touched and spellbound by the courage of the families and their beautiful children. I found myself mesmerized at the resilience of these young LIONS. A statement was made in the film that "children give us more than we could ever give them." The children in this film have given me a renewed spirit to be passionate for life and people. My heartfelt prayers and admiration for those lost and those surviving this illness. Everyone involved in this project is to be commended.

Kristi Bellamy
Indianapolis, IN

wow. this is a beautiful film. in my ten years as a practicing pediatrician, i have learned that children with life threatening llnesses are some of the bravest creatures on the earth. equally brave are their parents. this film shows not just the courage, but the actual process of confronting fear and walking through it. this film clearly demonstrates how adults are transformed into something greater when they love a child.

i have seen all 4 hours of the film now. the most poignant moment for me was watching timothy get his feeding tube. something changed in him and it reflected in the expression on his face after he was cleaned and left alone. it was as if he had made the decision to fight with everything he had. i whispered to the television as if i could actually speak to him, "you have so much dignity. you have so much dignity."

thank you for making this film. though it focuses on childhood cancer the take home message is the same for children and families dealing with cf, crohn's, liver failure, severe immune deficiencies, serious heart lesions, and cerebral palsy. it isn't the disease that is the lion in the house. it is the child who fights with ferocious courage and survives or dies with dignity. it is the parents who fiercely protect their child and become more than humanly strong when their child is threatened. the lion is courage and dignity and love. Thank you for the gift of sharing a small part of these families lives. wow.

Reita L Lawrence MD
New Orleans, LA

I too accidentally came across this show, and was spellbound by the quite dignity of all involved. Frankly, it seemed like time was suspended as I watched. A heartfelt thank you to every person involved in sharing with us such a personal time.

Denver, Colorado

This is one of the most fascinating and moving documentaries I have ever watched. These families were so generous to allow themselves to be filmed throughout the most emotional times of their lives. The unconditional love that all of these parents had for their children shone through. The heartbreak of every decision they had to make was agonizing. Each of those kids fought so hard to live....it was humbling. I also couldn't help but be awed by all of the caring medical professionals who love these families.

It was truly a great film.

Barbara Kline
Burbank, CA

I have not cried or felt as much emotion through a film in my life. I am so grateful to the families and the filmakers that made this program possible. I am touched forever. The moment in the film that evoked hope for me was when Tim went to Chicago. He really seemed happy and at peace. He enjoyed it even though he did not want to go at first. I felt joy to see him laugh. Thank You


Thank you so much for FINALLY showing the world what our families experience. As the mother of a 13 year old cancer survivor, I found the film to be SO geniune, by far the best representation of the pediatric cancer experience from every possible angle. My daughter could not watch, she was too traumatized, but I plan to order the DVD for her so that some day, when she is ready, she can watch the film and in some way validate her experience. GOD BLESS the filmmakers. You did a wonderful, wonderful job.

Mary Hubbell
Mom to Katy Hubbell

Fisher, Illinois

Magnificent film. The perserverence of those kids through all that pain and the love of those parents and those doctors for those kids demonstrated the best in mankind.

S Moore
Davis, CA

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.

Karen Smith
Plano, TX

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.


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.

julie soule
foxboro, ontario

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

Falmouth, MA

I watched this documentary, and there are no words that come to me right now. I hear people talk about courage, but rarely have I seen it on display like I saw it in this program. I don't know how these little kids looked death in the face and still found the guts to keep on fighting even when their prognosis was bleak. To fight when you know you may not make it is touching to me. To see how much the kids wanted to live...I have no words. I cheered when the kids caught a break, and cried when things didn't go well. This is a must see documentary. I've thought of nothing since I watched last night. Thanks to the families who let us take a look into their lives. You were all very inspiring, and you have NOTHING to feel guilty about. Each of you did what you thought was best for your children. What else can anyone ask but the best that you can give? God bless you all.

Antoinette Davis
Cincinnati, OH

Your presentation, "A Lion in the House" was a courageous documentary. There were so many wonderful elements and the honesty of the families will help many people. The dedication of the healthcare professionals in Cincinnati was inspiring. Two years ago I completed my M.S. degree in End of Life care. End of life care is a pioneer field and the need is critical in our American society today for more support in this area. One year ago I felt the "calling" to become a registered nurse with a direction toward oncology or palliative medicine. After seeing the film, I felt affirmed in my direction and I truly appreciated seeing the dedication of the nursing staff for these children. I will be thinking about all of them when I start nursing school in the Fall. As a mom, I cried with every parent in the film and know their experience will help many people. Their bravery in allowing themselves to be filmed during the most vulnerable times of their lives provided an honesty that will reach the soul of everyone who is a caregiver of someone with cancer.

Barbara Hauck
Rego Park, New York

My son completed treatment for osteosarcoma in November 2005. Eight months of chemo and amputation of part of his leg and he is now cancer-free, hopefully forever. I call the unit at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, DC, where he was treated, the alternate universe. Most of the parents I see at my kids' schools have no idea that a place like this exists and what it is like living day after day with kids hooked up 24/7 to iv meds, sick and fighting for their lives and parents sitting vigil praying these toxic treatments will save their children. I saw reviews for this program before I watched the first part last night and was worried it would sugar-coat the issue. You didn't and I commend you for really showing what it is like. I identified with so much of what I saw last night. I hope parents are watching and it will inspire them to do something about childhood cancers. I only wish more was publized about the sarcomas - there is so much more out there about leukemia and lymphoma but so little about the other common childhood cancers.

Bethesda, MD

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.

Mercie Bouck
Astoria, NY

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.

Susan Raffa
Larchmont, New York

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