EAST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — The mother of a 5-year-old girl with cancer got a billboard that looked into her hospital room removed because it was scaring her daughter.
Grace Ellen Bumstead has been fighting a rare form of leukemia for more than a year and a half, but last week, her fight moved from inside the hospital to Sunset Boulevard.
“I looked out the window, and I saw something very scary … like a very big clown,” Grace said.
What she was referring to was the clown from the upcoming horror film “Poltergeist” that was looking right into her hospital room at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Her mother Melissa took photographs from the room on the pediatric floor of the billboard perched right over Grace’s shoulder.
“I thought it was terrifying. I thought it was a very creepy. Very scary-looking clowns. Not something that I would like to look at,” said Melissa Bumstead, Grace’s mother.
Other patients felt the same way.
When a nurse was checking on Grace and the preschooler pointed out the clown, “The nurse stopped everything she’s doing and says, ‘That’s what the little girl next door has been crying about,’ ” Bumstead said.
Bumstead got angry.
“A lot of these children — that window is their only connection to the outside world,” she said.
She took to her Facebook page to urge her followers to call the billboard company.
“A lot of people shared it quickly. Everyone told me as soon as they saw it, they said, ‘I can do that,’ ” she said.
When Bumstead went to bed that night at 10 p.m., the billboard was still up; however, by the time she awoke at 7 a.m., it had been removed and in the middle of a downpour.
“I cried. I was so amazed that, ummm, especially, in consideration that there had been a thunderstorm,” she said.
Fran Walfish, a psychotherapist, offered the following tips for parents who encounter a similar situation:
• Listen to your child’s concerns.
• Validate their feelings.
• Remind them it isn’t real.
• And teach them to protect themselves.
“Because when they’re in nursery school, preschool or on a play date, you will not always be there,” Walfish said. “Teach your child, ‘When you are scared and you see or know what’s coming, pick up your hands and cover your eyes,’ ” she said.