Cancer Stories: Lessons in Love, Loss and Hope


In 2003, West Virginia University’s P.I. Reed School of Journalism teamed up with West Virginia Public Broadcasting for a documentary chronicling the lives of five cancer patients from diagnosis through their treatments.

Cancer Stories: Lessons in Love, Loss and Hope won a Midwestern Regional Emmy in the Informational Program category. The documentary also won an Award of Excellence in the 2004 Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts documentary category.

More than 30 WVU journalism students worked on the project. Broadcast, news-editorial and photography students worked for nearly a year and a half to create the documentary and a later released a book through WVU Press. West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s John Nakashima served as editor of the film and Pat Sergent was the program manager.

You can watch this film below. Also, be sure to tune into the television premiere Ken Burns’ three-part series Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies on March 30, 31 and April 1 at 9 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Dr. Suzanne M. Cole, a hematologist and oncologist, is featured in the third and final episode of this all-inclusive documentary presented by Ken Burns. Charleston Area Medical Center, where Cole practiced at the time, is also prominently featured in the film.

During this episode, Dr. Cole meets with a patient who isn’t responding to treatment and helps another patient cope with the high cost of medicine.

“Healing is not always about eternal life. Healing is helping people to have a good death. There’s some kind of healing in that too,” Cole says in one of the segments of the television documentary Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.