|A Conversation with Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar|
Your stepdaughter, Julia's daughter, is a cancer survivor. How did that shape your approach
to the film?
Steve: That experience really laid the groundwork for our ability to make this documentary. If we had not had our own connection to cancer, I don't think we would have understood the need to tell these stories or even felt we had the right to tell them.
What stands out to you most from this experience?
Julia: I found that the doctors and nurses were fabulous. In our culture, we complain a lot: "The doctors don't give us enough time. They don't listen to us. They're not very compassionate." They were so compassionate and would really sit and listen. And the nurses were like angels. The way they could handle problems, calmly, and really help the families and kids get through very difficult things and come back with a smile, come back with a joke, and be positive - that was very profound for me.
Cancer's hard on everybody, but also it was surprising to see how much harder it is when economic circumstances are difficult. I never saw anybody getting less care because they were poor. It's what happens outside: the school system, the nutrition at home, transportation. That was a real wake-up call for me.
Is there one area in which you see the opportunity to have the biggest impact?
Julia: There are three areas. One is survivorship and to make people aware of the late effects. I think that can help save lives. And we really want to raise awareness about disparities, helping to support efforts around the country to get resources to the patients who need them the most. And the third thing really is getting better quality care for children facing the end of life.
What role do you hope the cancer community can play in this?
Steve: In many ways it's not that they are going to help us, but we hope that this project can help them. We hope to bring the lay public into a world that they don't get to see very often. Thanks to the generosity and courage of the families in the film, the public is hopefully going to have a very sensitive, compelling experience. And we hope that will create a lot of energy and emotion that will spur people to action. We realize this is just a movie; it's not going to cure cancer. But it could help bring more services and raise awareness about the issues that affect cancer patients, families, and caregivers.