Making Every Moment Count

From The Fanlight Collection

Directed by Leora Kuttner, PhD

39 minutes / Color
Release: 2004
Copyright: 2004

"If we can make it less awful, a child dying, then why don't we already do it? Why isn't pediatric palliative care everywhere? Why is there a block? I'm asking you - why do we have to make a film about it?" —Stephen Liben, MD

After multiple, unsuccessful chemotherapies, Mikaela knows that she has a choice: she can let her brain tumor grow "and just go away, up to heaven," or she can put up with "needles and pokes and all that stuff and make it go away, and even perhaps it might come back." Sometimes she feels ready to stop her treatments, but then she thinks about how much her mother will miss her…

Thoughtful and evocative, this new video addresses the complex issues surrounding end-of-life care for children. Psychologist and award-winning filmmaker Leora Kuttner, PhD, profiles five children with life threatening illness, and the families and health professionals who support them. The film clearly shows that, despite popular belief, children can talk about end-of-life issues if given proper support, and that doing so can help both them and their families cope with the realities of their situation.

The film focuses on the emotional and psychological aspects of pediatric palliative care. It features deeply caring physicians, nurses, therapists and others working with families whose children range from newborns to teenagers. Their care takes place in the hospital, in hospice programs and at home. Designed for health and social service professionals and students, this program is also compelling viewing for families and anyone caring for seriously ill children, as well as for the general public.

"Enlightening. The film bravely tackles the delicate and painful topic of palliative care for dying children. Should be shared with pediatric patients, their families, including siblings and, most importantly, with medical professionals. Recommended."—Educational Media Reviews Online

"Dr. Kuttner, in addition to being a pioneer in the development of psychological strategies to reduce pain in children, has left a visual and auditory record of the evolution of the treatment of children's pain, its value to the child and family, and a series of remarkable insights for clinicians and trainees. MAKING EVERY MOMENT COUNT represents an opening salvo to the next phase in pediatric pain management, recognizing that children die and bringing the biopsychosocial model to address this complex phenomenon."—Neil L. Schechter, MD, Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

"A moving film highlighting the importance of family-centered pediatric palliative care. The candid insights of those in the film clearly demonstrate the value of listening to children and their families."—Ann Armstrong-Dailey, Children's Hospital International

"Enriches and challenges us to re-examine our assumptions and understandings about life. I strongly recommend it for professional and family caregivers, indeed, for all who are willing to consider the questions that dying children and their families need to face each day."—Balfour Mount, OM, MD, FRCSC, Professor of Palliative Medicine, McGill University

Ways to Watch

Colleges, Universities, Government Agencies, Hospitals, and Corporations

Purchase DVD for $229.00


National Film Board of Canada
Leora Kuttner, PhD

Select Accolades

  • Finalist, International Health and Medical Film Competition
  • Silver Award, Health & Science Communications Assn.
  • International Congress on Care of the Terminally Ill
  • 16th World Congress, Children's Hospice International
  • National Hospice and Palliative Care Association
  • Pediatric Palliative Care Conference
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Western Psychological Association
  • Zero to Three National Training Institute
  • Columbus International Film & Video Festival
  • International Symposium on Pediatric Pain


This three-part series deals with end-of-life care and decision making in the hospital, through profiles of several severely ill patients and the staff who deal with them.

Ben Achtenberg with Christine Mitchell, RN, FAAN | 2002 | 75 minutes | Color | English

A powerful and evocative series of short, one-character dramas created by two nurse-educators, and designed to focus discussion on complex ethical issues in end-of-life care.

Helen Emmott, RN, and Julie Russell, RN | 2005 | 54 minutes | Color | English

Two extraordinary women, diagnosed with end stage cancer, are facing death head on, determined to lead richer, more rewarding lives in the time that they have.

David Liban | 2009 | 57 minutes | Color | English