Dallas Hope

Real Patients, Real Stories

Dallas Hope, is our title for an unprecedented documentary series we began filming in March of this year.   The 90-minute finished work will feature three cancer patients undergoing treatment at Baylor’s Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas.   The word ‘unprecedented’ is overused in our business, but we believe it is justified in describing the access we have to real patients and their real life battles with cancer. 


My initial reaction to the content?  I am in awe of the heroes we are profiling and their everyday acts of courage, faith and yes, hope.  At the same time I am aware that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Rarely, if ever has such a prestigious medical center, with such strict privacy standards, welcomed the unblinking eye of cameras like this.


So far we have over 60 hours of footage – much of it inspiring, some of it anguishing.  We were in one doctor’s office when a 30-year-old woman and her husband were told she has breast cancer and will need a double mastectomy.  At home with her I-Pad ‘rolling’ she explains “the cancer word” to her two young children.


Talk about reality TV, this is what real really looks like.


Another patient waits for her life-saving stem cell transplant while a third enrolls in a clinical trial which is using tobacco leaves, of all things, to treat his non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Later this summer we will travel to Europe to meet the doctors and researchers working with Baylor on this and other breakthrough cancer treatments.


Why would these patients open themselves up to this kind of scrutiny and distraction during one of the most difficult periods of their life? One of the subjects, the 30-year-old about to go into surgery, is also a beauty pageant winner who chose breast cancer awareness as her platform before being diagnosed with the disease herself.   


She could think of no better way to honor cancer survivors than documenting her own struggle.



“I'm supposed to be the one inspiring them, wearing a crown”, she told me. “And I just wanted to take the crown off and give it to them, because they had all the love, and the faith and everything. And, now I have it. So, I have a responsibility to give back to them.”


My request to profile these everyday heroes was also the product of perfect timing.   The $350 million Charles A. Sammons Baylor Cancer Center opened last year – and a 120-bed cancer hospital is coming on-line this summer.  Dr. Alan Miller Chief of Oncology at Baylor green-lighted the project following approval by the hospital’s board of directors.  He sees the documentary as a long-form public service announcement for Texans seeking a high tech and “high touch” cancer treatment and research center for north Texas.


I think that it's important for the public to know how dedicated the Baylor leadership is in this mission”, he said, “to build a cancer center and program for the needs of the people of our area.  And as you see the magnificence that is here in the programs and the people, then you can understand that Baylor is living up to that commitment.”


Note that I am not revealing the patients we are profiling here. Until Dallas Hope airs on WFAA-TV in November, this remarkable trio will continue their war with cancer in semi-privacy.   


After all they’ve been through my hope is that each of them will attend the premiere – to see how they are admired and for all of us to see what real heroes look like.


Tony Martinez