Description: This book is designed as a child's guide to understanding childhood cancers and the associated tests, treatments, hospitalization, effect on routine activities of daily living, resources for families, and the potential for death.
Purpose: The book is dedicated to children who are meeting the challenges of cancer, and is intended to make cancer and its treatment less scary. Each year in the United States approximately 8,700 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with some form of cancer. Materials written at an age-appropriate level are needed to help these children understand their disease and better cope with it.
Audience: Although the book is written for school-age children of at least 8 or 9 years old, younger school-age children may be able to comprehend the message with the assistance of an adult. It would be appropriate for patient teaching, or to help siblings or peers of the patient to understand cancer and its treatment.
Features: There are illustrations which represent children with various forms of cancer who give personal messages to the reader about the chapter topics. The characters appear periodically throughout the book as their respective type of cancer or treatment is discussed. The drawings are simple and colorful which makes them easy for these concrete thinkers to relate to. Each chapter ends with an activity page. Some are intended to help the child personalize the information presented, such as one titled "The worst and best of your tests." Others are designed to reinforce learning, including a word search and maze. While emphasizing that most children with cancer are cured, one chapter deals with the prospect of death. Young children tend to associate death with mutilation or punishment. By 9 or 10 years most realize that it is both inevitable and permanent. It is natural for school-age children to fear death and have many questions. Considering that neoplastic disorders are the leading cause of death from disease in children past infancy in the United States, this discussion is essential.
Assessment: The authors present information about cancer at a level that is easily understood, and answer questions that children with cancer commonly ask. They encourage readers to express feelings and to ask additional questions. They offer advice to help children cope with the difficult aspects of having cancer and the associated changes, but at the same time promote self esteem and maintaining some normalcy in activities of daily living. Most importantly it helps children to personalize the content.