Thursday, May 28, 2015

Things I Wish I'd Known-Cancer and Kids by Deborah J. Cornwall

by Deborah J. Cornwall
Bardolf & Company
60 Pages

This short book was written for cancer caregivers who are responsible for helping children understand what a cancer diagnosis means for a loved one or for themselves. The cancer experience shakes most caregivers to their core. It is even more compelling and poignant when it involves children. Thousands of families each year face this shocking reality. Based on interviews with caregivers who have first-hand knowledge, this book is intended to help anyone facing a cancer diagnosis affecting a child, either as the patient or as a member of a family. It offers advice and cites resources to help discuss cancer with children of different ages, manage the impact of the disease on their daily lives, navigate treatment for kids with cancer, and deal with children's grief in the event of a death in the family.

In short and direct language, it offers guidance and resources (both references and internet links) for communicating and taking action in five areas:

  • Sharing the News about Cancer
  • Managing the Impact of a Cancer Diagnosis for Children
  • When the Child is the Cancer Patient
  • Handling the Death of a Parent or Sibling
  • Other Resources for Caregivers Concerned About Cancer and Children

If you're pressed for time and need to know what to do on these topics, you can't go wrong with this book. The references provided are comprehensive and will save you time and energy as you navigate through a challenging situation. 

For insights about the broader cancer caregiving process, see "Things I Wish I'd Known: Cancer and Kids," also by Deborah J. Cornwall.


Cancer is a topic which, unfortunately, most of us can relate to in one form or another. Although there's quite a bit of literature out there describing direct experiences with this disease or offering help for the person suffering, there's little information available for the care-takers of such people, and even less for the children involved. I was glad to find a book solely dedicated to this often forgotten group.

This is a help book, which delivers what it promises: assistance. Unlike many books, which try to give direct assistance through supportive writing, Ms. Cornwall helps guide parents/grandparents/and guardians to places, groups and communities where direct help is available. I found this extremely useful, since, so often, real help cannot be offered by general words. Experiences are personal. Problems are personal. And by directing individuals to real, existing support groups, Cornwall is helping exactly these issues to be addressed.

Another thing I found exceptional in this book was the fact that it's based on openness, honesty and love. So often parents try to protect children from the harsh world, when this is not only unnecessary but often leads to more troubles than it solves. Children adapt and deal with these type of situations often better than adults. And I appreciated Cornwall's view on how to deal with the younger generation.

Summed up, this is a great book, which all families touched by cancer should read. It doesn't try to sweeten the situation, but rather directs to real help and offers honest tips and opinions.

All about Deborah J. Cornwall. . .

Deborah J. Cornwall is the author of Things I Wish I'd Known: Cancer and Kids (2015)and Things I Wish I'd Known: Cancer Caregivers Speak Out (2012-3). She has been associated with the American Cancer Society and its Cancer Action Network as a volunteer leader since 1994, serving in a variety of local, regional, and national roles and acting as a frequent media spokesperson. In 2013 she was awarded the American Cancer Society's St. George national award for her contributions to cancer control, and in 2014 she received the Lorin Lavidor Caregiver Award from the New England Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. She is also an active volunteer with the Cancer Support Community--Massachusetts South Shore. Deborah's personal goal is to increase federal funding for cancer research and to eliminate cancer as a health concern during our lifetimes.

Her passion to write the first book (Things I Wish I'd Known: Cancer Caregivers Speak Out) was ignited by her interaction with cancer patients and caregivers at the Society's AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Boston. Both within her own community and at Hope Lodge, she came in contact with people whose survival and caregiving stories were much more trying than her own diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer in 2001.

Generous with their stories, the 95 interviewed caregivers (who came from 19 states and represented 117 patients with over 40 different cancer diagnoses) felt a strong desire to be heard and to share the lessons they had learned (often the hard way). She used her proven interviewing and writing skills to help them do that.

Her second book, Things I Wish I'd Known: Cancer and Kids, draws on that foundation by offering guidance to adults on how to help them understand the impact of cancer on their families' lives and how to engage children with cancer in age-appropriate ways. It is distinctive in that it provides the reader with quick access to many available resources for depth on a variety of critical topics. 

You can find out more about here. . .

Head on over to Kidbits (here) to read a terrific interview with this very interesting woman!

1 comment:

Caryn Caldwell said...

This DOES sound good and, alas, necessary for many. Thanks for pointing it out.