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Books for Children Whose Parents Have Cancer

Cancer is a disease that affects the entire family. It's hard enough for adults who are dealing with the disease or struggling to find ways to support their loved one. It's even more intense for children who may not understand the disease or why parents who used to be so available now seem occupied with something called "cancer." The resources on this page were chosen to help you help children you know who have a parent with cancer.

Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings - When someone you love has cancer... a hopeful, helpful book for kid
Written by Ellen McVicker (educator), Illustrated by Nanci Hersh (artist and cancer survivor)
Also available in Spanish (softcover)
Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings is an award winning children's book that tenderly helps to explain the unexplainable... cancer. It's beautifully illustrated words can be used to educate and support any child who is facing a loved one's cancer diagnosis. This book opens the lines of communication for children to talk with grown-ups. The story, as told through the eyes of a child, lends itself to a simple and clear understanding of cancer. More importantly, however, it helps children realize that they can be an active and integral part of a loved one's cancer journey; thus, alleviating fears, validating feelings, and empowering children.

Our Family Has Cancer, Too!
by Christine Clifford
When their mother is diagnosed with cancer, sixth grader Tim and his younger brother visit her in the hospital, learn about radiation and chemotherapy, and help with the chores at home. An ideal gift for children ages 7-12 whose families have been touched to cancer. The book contains a glossary of the most common words kids might hear when someone in their family has cancer.

Our Mom Has Cancer
by Adrienne Ackermann and Abigail Ackermann
Two sisters, ages eleven and thirteen, describe what it was like for them when their mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy.

What Is Cancer Anyway?:
Explaining Cancer to Children of All Ages

by Karen L. Carney
This book provides basic information that is essential when someone in the family has cancer and does so in a calm, clear, reassuring manner that children and adults will appreciate. Barklay and Eve, the two main characters, define cancer, explain radiation and chemotherapy (including the reasons why some people loose their hair).

Because Someone I Love Has Cancer: Kids' Activity Book
by the American Cancer Society
A large-format, spiral bound book that gives children activities to do that will help them deal with the situation when someone they love has cancer.

Cancer in the Family:
Helping Children Cope With a Parent's Illness

by Sue P. Heiney, Joan F. Hermann, Katherine V. Bruss, and Joy L. Fincannon
This guide for families discusses ways to help young or adolescent children deal with a parent's diagnosis of cancer. Coverage includes children's emotional reactions to crisis, answering difficult questions about the condition, understanding and using psychosocial support services, talking about death, and issues for non-traditional families.

Can I Still Kiss You?:
Answering Your Children's Questions About Cancer

by Neil Russell
Diagnosed at age 47 when his children were only 11 and 13, this is Neil's emotional account of the disease's life-changing impact on himself and his family. Can I Still Kiss You? is both informative narrative and interactive journal; it will help parents speak to their children about the cancer that has come into their lives. The prospect of sitting down with a child in an attempt to make sense out of a disease that we barely understand ourselves is daunting. Russell provides a chapter-by-chapter series of questions and answers dealing with diagnosis, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy during and after treatment. Through his own experience and research he presents clear, straightforward questions followed by answers that are understandable to children.

Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo
by Eileen Sutherland and Maggie Sutherland
This wonderful little book was written to help families with small children talk about breast cancer. It gently prepares children aged 4 through 8 for what lies ahead, using language that they can understand. The author's daughter, Maggie did the drawings that illustrate the book.

Cancer... We Will Get Through This Together
by Jennifer Cahalan & Ryan Knostman
How do you talk to your kids about cancer? What do you say? Where do you start? The purpose of this book is to help parents discuss their cancer diagnosis with their children in an open and honest way. This book will serve as a tool to help the conversation begin. You will get through cancer together!

Kids Konnected
Kids Konnected was founded under the premise that when a parent gets cancer, the entire family is affected. Children facing the same fears and sharing similar experiences can be helped by others in a similar situation. (800-899-2866)

© Deb Haggerty  
Sometimes the urge to do something overwhelmingly fun and unexpected just seizes hold of Deb. Here she is at a party, planting a kiss on the cheek of surprised waiter who had complimented her just seconds before. This is Deb with Bonnie Ross Parker. Deb and Bonnie originally met online and quickly became good friends. She an example of the people, all over the country, who took on breast cancer walks and supported Deb in many ways. This is Deb with two good friends, Eva Marie Everson and Linda Evans Shepherd.