FaceTime lets families "be there" in difficult times

February 17, 2012 1:48:20 PM PST
Thanks to Apple's FaceTime, Manhattan native, Benjamin Schrader, can "be there" for his cancer-stricken father, Paul Schrader, despite being 3,000 miles away.

FaceTime allows Ben to see and interact with his family and the hospital staff while they make treatment decisions together.

Ben's father was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2009.

"When I speak to him over the phone he'll sound alright sometimes and I know that he's not but he won't let me hear that," Ben said.

His father is in Seattle, Ben is here in Manhattan, an actor in the hit Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon."

Though he can't be there in person, Ben is still there face-to-face thanks to FaceTime.

Using his laptop and his mother's iPhone, Ben goes along for doctor appointments and chemo sessions with his father.

Today Ben learns they are postponing the chemo, but just for now.

Paul: "The way I'm losing weight right now is not good."

Ben: "What are you at right now?"

Dad: "205, I lost 15 pounds in 3 weeks."

Ben: "When was the last time you weighed 205?"

Dad: "Probably when I was 15-years-old."

Ben says although it's a little weird to be the "guy in the phone", he tries to play an active role, asking the doctors and nurses questions.

And using the phone takes a little getting used to, sometimes parents, like Ben's mom, Ellen Schrader, need a little help.

"Being able to connect with Ben using FaceTime has been tremendous, it's been a real support to me." Ellen said.

Ben's father is also thankful for the new technology, but it isn't always easy.

For FaceTime to work smoothly you need a WiFi connection on both sides and both ends need an Apple device.

The hospital where his father is, the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, now offer free iPads for patients to use to FaceTime with family.