Our patients and the media…the story behind the headlines….

It was a big day for the Decker Family. They were here at the hospital, waiting to get the test results and learn if Lily’s cancer had spread. You could feel the tension in the air. Also waiting in the room with them to hear the news was a reporter and photographer from The Columbus Dispatch.

So how do parents, like Erika and James Decker, decide to share such a personal and intimate moment with the media? A moment, among many others in Lily’s cancer journey, that were documented in a two-part series that appeared this Sunday and Monday on the front pages of the Columbus Dispatch. (there are also some amazing videos on the Dispatch website).

For many parents, sharing their personal story is a way to raise awareness of their child’s condition but for others, it’s a chance to give hope – even if one other family is helped, the impact can be immeasurable.

What readers of the story didn’t know is that Lily asked for reporter Misti Crane and photographer, Chris Russell to be there when she heard her news. Many people might think working with a reporter would be intrusive but in the course of covering her story, Misti and Chris formed a special bond with Lily and she knew they were pulling for good news. Thankfully everyone got their wish and Lily’s news was great– no more chemotherapy for now. In fact, Misti and Chris followed Lily to Flying Horse Farm (they even stayed overnight) to capture Lily’s first and last days at this year’s camp.

Dozens of hours were put into this behind-the-scenes look at pediatric cancer and we’re thankful to have a daily newspaper that cares enough about these issues to give them this attention. With so many daily newspapers in trouble, it’s great to have such a strong one here in our community.

We work with hundreds of reporters who tell the stories of Nationwide Children’s each year. In nearly every case, we find the reporters are extremely respectful of patient privacy and family wishes. Unfortunately, there are some exceptions but they are few and far between.

So, put yourself in the Decker’s shoes – Would you be willing to share your personal story with the media? Tell me what you think. I’m not sure what I’d do if faced with the Decker’s circumstances but I am thankful for brave kids like Lily who have amazing stories and courage to spare.

Donna Teach
Donna Teach is Chief Marketing & Communication Officer at Nationwide Children's. Her job is to help the hospital feel "connected" – Connected to each other, connected to our patients and their families, referring physicians, the community and the world.

9 thoughts on “Our patients and the media…the story behind the headlines….

  1. My son Brandon was diagnosed with medulloblastoma (a very aggressive malignant brain cancer) when he was 2 1/2 years old. He was treated at Nationwide (then Columbus Children’s Hospital). Dr. Olshefski was his Oncologist and Suzanne was his nurse. The staff on J5 was wonderful. Unfortunately for my family, our son’s story did not have a happy ending. He died on March 24, 2007, a month shy of his 4th birthday. We would have shared our story during his treatment, just as we would share it now. It is important to share experiences with others who are or have been through it because you can’t mentally or emotionally understand it unless you’ve been there. We also feel the inclination to share because our children are important to us and we want the world to see how brave they are/were. We want them to be important to other people too, if only just for a minute.

    1. Stephanie – I’ve been so touched this morning reading all these postings – especially stories such as yours. There is a saying – “It’s not how long you live…It’s how you live that counts”. Your story brings this statement to life. I am touched everyday by our amazing physicians and staff here at Nationwide Children’s. That’s why we created this Blog – so folks can here stories like yours – thank you.

  2. kristi shoewalter on said:

    I loved reading the Decker’s story…that are so inspirational. We would love to share our story. Our son received an organ transplant when he was 10 months old. Every time we share our story we hope to encourage one more person to become an organ donor. Thank you for these stories!

  3. In response to whether we would share our story with the media, we did just that. My son, Luke Gabriel Ervin had a brain tumor as well. He was dx Feb 28 2002 and was treated at NCCH (fka Columbus Children’s) until his death July 31, 2003. He was 3 yrs and 23 days old. Dr. Randy Olshefski was his attending, and I cannot say enough about how compassionate, professional, caring, & loving that man is!! We are from Mansfield, Oh & our local newspaper (Mansfield News Journal) also followed our son from July 2002-July 2003 and even checked in with our family through Dec 2003. Two photojournalists “lived” with us during that time & we were blessed by their presence and the resulting images that are left. It had it’s moments of “why did we allow them in?” but mostly they were not a hinderance, but were discreet about their coverage of Luke’s story. I did it to educate the public and to help other families, which I continue to do to this day. If you would like to know more, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for continuing this kind of journalism, :) Ivy Ervin

    1. Ivy – My heart goes out to you and your family. You are lving proof of the courage and hope that can come from life’s darkest days. I am so glad you are enjoying the Blog. Your story is exactly why I’m doing this – to help others understand life here at Children’s Hospital. I would love to connect just to say hello and learn more about your experience. Thank you for writing. Donna

  4. Chiristine on said:

    I have a baby at Children’s, he’s been there since his birth 6 months ago. He was born w/ VATER syndrome n has had several surgries, he’s came out of all the surgeries like the fighter he was born 2 be.

    So, you ask if I would be able 2 share our family’s story, absolutely. If only 2 raise awareness about this condition. When our son was born we had never heard of it n in fact if you ask some drs. they don’t know what VATER is either. Also, 2 shine a little hope on a family that has a child w/ this syndrome. When your child is born w/ something you’ve never heard of is so scary, a little bit of sunshine really does go a long way.

    Thanks 4 reading :)

  5. JAMES BALSER on said:

    HI MY SON ZACK WAS BORN 3-14-11 AT 30 WEEKS 2PDS 14OZ AND HAS BEEN AT CHILDRENS HIS WHOLE LIFE.I DONT KNOW ALL THE MEDIAL TERMS FOR EVERY THING BUT ITS ABOUT TWO PAGES LONG.HE HAS HAD SOME CLOSE CALL BUT ALL THE NURSES AND DOCTORS SAY THEY NEVER SEEN A FIGHTER LIKE ZACK.HE WILL SPEND ALL OF HIS FIRST HOLIDAYS HERE AND ITS ALOT HARDER THAN I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE.MY WIFE IS A WRECK AND IAM NOT MUCH BETTER AT TIMES,GUT LOOKING AT HIS WHEN WE ARE THERE MAKES IT ALL WORTH IT.THE NURSES ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD.HE HAS THREE REAGULAR WHO HAS MADE OUR WORLD BETTER THROUGH A ROUGH TIME.
    MY WIFE HAD WROTE YOU A WHIKE BACK I AM JUST UPDATING GO TO MY FACE BOOK PAGE AND YOU CAN SEE HOW MUCH ZACK HAS CHANGED IN THE LAST NINE MONTHS.I DONT KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER WE WILL BE HERE BUT IF WE CAN SHOW HOW WOUNDERFUL YOUR STAFF HAS BEEN WE WOULD BE GLAD TO HELP

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