Leap of Faith (TV Movie 1988)

''Leap of Faith,'' written by Bruce Hart, is based on ''real events'' in the lives of Deborah Franke Ogg and her husband, Oscar, portrayed by Anne Archer and Sam Neill. 40-year-old Debby Frank Ogg has everything to look forward to; a happy marriage, a good career and the birth of her first baby. But after a miscarriage comes the terrible discovery that she has a potentially fatal form of lymphatic cancer. Her doctors, armed with the standard radiation-and-chemotherapy treatments, say there is nothing to be done ''for the moment.'' There is no cure. She is given 7 to 10 years. She refuses to accept that she has a limited time left and decides to fight the disease - with startling results.

Sam Neill - Leap of Faith

Article from the October 2, 1988 edition of The Washington Post by Patricia Brennan

Deborah Franke Ogg's spiritual and psychological journey, and her apparent triumph over a fatal form of cancer, holds a message: Understand that you have some control over your life.

Simple, you may say, but perhaps not so simple. Children don't always believe it, and neither do adults who find themselves overwhelmed by problems. But Debby Ogg believes it, and her story, "Leap of Faith," airs Thursday at 9 on CBS. Anne Archer, who won an Oscar nomination for her role as Michael Douglas' wife in "Fatal Attraction," plays Ogg and Sam Neill ("Reilly: Ace of Spies," "Kane & Abel") is her husband.

A major part of Ogg's story has to do with how she has come to view her early years. Deborah Franke was 7 when her mother died. Her father remarried, but when she was 12, he died. Then her stepmother died. "It was a huge dynamic for me and it sat there forever and ever -- it was walled off," she said.

Beset with a poor self-image, Debby Franke went through life buffeted by the results of her own self-damaging behavior until, in her early 40s, she met and married Oscar Ogg. Finally, she thought, she had found happiness. She was delighted with their country home and her new job in a mental heath center, and elated to learn that she was also pregnant. But the Oggs' joy was shattered first by a miscarriage and then by the news that she was suffering from nodular lymphoma, a usually-fatal form of cancer.

Oscar Ogg refused to accept the diagnosis and began to search for alternative therapies. But Debby remained dispirited until, when her best friend lost her life in a car accident, she decided to fight for her own.

Debby Ogg embarked on a multifaceted plan including biofeedback, acupuncture, meditation and psychological therapy, learning that she had interpreted her parents' death as rejection of her own worth. Searching for "hopeful stories," she read Norman Cousins' 1979 book, Anatomy of an Illness, in which he devised a therapy that involved laughing, and found it "very influential."

Last week, Ogg called CBS' movie "an upbeat story. But I don't believe for a split second that my story is everyone's story, that if you were given exactly the same diagnosis as me that you would have the same results as me. Everyone has their own map, and the object is to find what's meaningful to you in your journey. The point is to help people to tap in to what works for them.

"What I think is really key is that all of us understand that we have some control over our environment. Victims, and children, feel powerless. That's one of the reasons why it's so important to work with children -- they can impact on themselves and their world."

Ogg is aware that some critics fear viewers caught up in her recovery will eschew conventional medical procedures that could save their lives. She did not undergo conventional chemotherapy or radiation, she said, "not because I rejected them -- I see my doctor every three months and have every test done that he wants to be done -- but because chemotherapy and radiation would not make a significant difference [in this case]. Chemotherapy and radiation are obviously indicated in certain situations."

But she also knows that physicians may be skeptical when a patient proposes alternate therapy. "In situations when I saw doctors and when I talked about meditation or diet or exercise, basically they said they didn't believe it. We all need some education. Mind and body are not separate. There's an awful lot for doctors to learn. I don't want anyone to think that doctors are my enemy. But I think that consumers can influence doctors. In fact," she added, "I think that in 20 years or so, this will be old hat."

Ogg became pregnant four years ago, "as soon as the nodes started shrinking," and was 43 when Jenny was born. "She was born within six hours -- exactly the kind of birth I had imaged. I really feel like I'm in grace. I'm very thankful."

She is already teaching stress management techniques to Jenny, who will turn 3 the day "Leap of Faith" airs. "I see that as very important. When a very dear friend of ours was over and was very freaked out about something, Jenny came up and said, 'Now take a deep breath . . '"

Ogg hopes "to let people know they're not as much different from me, and that if something is not right, they can do something about it. I think that to some extent what people believe is what happens to them. That's the reason why it's so important to know what it is that you're feeling."

Sam Neill - Leap of Faith Sam Neill - Leap of Faith

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