My Mum has Breast Cancer – a book to help children cope

When I found out my mum had breast cancer I was devastated and scared and had lots of questions, but I was in my early twenties and able to articulate all that I was feeling. When my dear friend broke the news of her breast cancer, we were sitting in the park while our four-year-old sons played. How do you explain what lies ahead to a four-year-old?

My Mum has Breast Cancer is the personal story of Lisa Seward’s journey with breast cancer told through the eyes of her six-year-old son, Harrison.  The book was written to provide families with a storybook that explains  breast cancer in an informative way and in language that children can understand.

There is practical information and explanations of medical treatments (included to facilitate discussion between parents and children) as well as the kind of details that children notice, remember and grasp onto, regardless of how ‘appropriate’ they are at the time. For example, Harrison introduces his mum’s doctor –

“I met the doctor and he told us that Mum had cancer cells growing in her body and that they needed to come out because they were bad cells. The bad cells were in her breast and under her arm. I liked the doctor. He loves bike riding just like me!”

The touching details continue throughout the book, right down to Harrison reporting on the tasty food that other people made for them. Whether it’s my own personal experience or Harrison’s telling of his, the truthfulness of  My Mum has Breast Cancer brought a tear to my eye.

The childrens’ book is illustrated by Harrison and his grandmother, Helen Grizinich – a lovely contrast between Harrison’s bold, bright drawings and Helen’s watercolours.

Lisa Seward’s story has a happy ending (as does my mum’s and my friend’s) though not all breast cancer stories do. So much research is required to prevent and find a cure for breast cancer. Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) works to ensure women diagnosed with breast cancer, and their families, receive the very best information, treatment, care and support possible. Contact BCNA for more information, support or to donate.

My Mum has Breast Cancer is available from Breast Cancer Network Australia and costs $16.95. Net proceeds from the book are donated to Breast Cancer Network Australia and The Cancer Council Victoria.

Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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