Monday, February 22, 2010

Another piece of my children's story about kids with cancer.....

I have a passion for kids going through serious illnesses especially cancer. The attitude that these kids have is one that every adult on the planet should adopt. Their attitude for the most part is positive, realistic, and these kids know what is important long before the average adult figures it out.

That attitude in the kids I have cared for over my nursing career is what inspired me to write a children's book where the main character has leukemia. I want kids to read about fictional characters with great attitudes and positive outlooks on life. Kids see joy where most adults don't see anything. Kids see awe in the average day things like the antenae on a butterfly and the guts of a squished worm. Kids watch ants work like a well trained army and we adults just grab a spray can of bug stuff.

So, my fictional character, Lilly, will show the reader about attitude and a bunch of other realistic kid like things in my childen's book tenatively titled The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane. And here is a snippet of what she has to say:

I have a childhood form of cancer called Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Some kids might say it stinks. This is what I have to say about it in my own words.

A is for Attitude. It is all about attitude, a spunky, silly stubborn attitude, which my parents say I have. They also say that is a good thing if you have cancer. I don't think my teacher agrees, at least not during Math, but my new middle name is Spunky.

Parents: Please feel free to comment and give me your thoughts on your child reading about a fictional character that is going through a real life illness. Would it be helpful? Would it be too realistic and make you uncomfortable for your child to read this? Let me know. Check back soon to see what else Lilly has to say.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I am a nurse, but I am also a freelance writer. In the years that I have taken care of sick children, I have noted a lack in realistic yet hopeful children's books for kids who are dealing with real life diseases like cancer, stories with characters that let kids be kids even if they are very ill. It seems there is a limited number out there and that adults may be squeamish when it comes to reading books aloud to their children who are also sick, especially if the book includes a child who is ill.

I want to create fictional characters for children that they can read about and relate to but who are most definitely fictional. If a child has a friend who may be ill or if the child is sick, it can be comforting to read about characters who deal with these same issues in the safe pages of a book.

My hope and prayer is that as I create these books and get them in the hands of children, that they may also help to open the line of communication between parent and child when scarey health situations occur.

I am going to introduce some of these fictional characters to parents and friends on this blog. They are based on children that I may have cared for or observed over the course of 34 years of nursing and are not meant to be true accounts of any one child. They are the products of my imagination and are given admirable characteristics of the children I have seen who have dealt with their illness with dignity and bravery. You may see the bright blue eyes of a toddler, or the heart of a teen. You may watch the chubby cheeks and curls of a first grader, or you may hear the tears of a child in pain. As I write these stories from my heart to the heart of the reader, may you feel and understand what these parents and kids go through.

I hope you will love them like I do. Please feel free to email me or make comments and let me know how I can address the needs of someone you may know or love.

Meet my first new character, Lilly Isabella Lane. She is nine years old and she loves silly hats, cats, friends, and soup. Lilly has a disease called Leukemia and she is going to tell a story about what it is like to have cancer in my new book, The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane. This is what Lilly has to say about cancer.
Look for another post soon about what Lilly has to say.
PS. The picture is of my writing partner and grand-daughter who gives me much insight into the hearts of first graders. Love you K.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gut Wrenching Emotions:

  • As a nurse I have seen families go through gut wrenching emotions as they watch their child be diagnosed.

Other parents go through these same emotions as their son or daughter serves the military, hoping against all hope that they come home safe.

I know this and I can say I feel this. Our own son is in the process of seeing physicians for nodules he found in his back. He called me this week, told me he has had them a few weeks, and that he just doesn't feel right. He is scared.

My heart sank at his words. The words of faith and hope that I believe seemed more like words at that moment, empty and false. Hours later when my husband and I arranged our schedules to be with him at his doctor's appointment ( He lives 120 miles from us and is an adult child- none the less he wanted us there.) and we had gone from diagnosing him ourselves to saying okay God, give us strength to handle what ever this is, we are told he has benign lipomas. The doctor thinks they are benign but he referred us to a surgeon anyway, so we wait for that appointment. He diagnoses this without feeling our son's neck, without having him get undressed, and without so much as a drop of blood or urine to test. Do I believe him?

The bottom line, faith and hope is all you really have when life seems as if it is falling apart. The diagnosis will be what it will be... and we as parents will gather the strength to deal with it. We as parents who are both nurses, must trust that the physicians are right and wait patiently for the appointment with the surgeon. And we pray. Pray for strength, for good health, and for our son.

For all you parents who have children that are dealing with an illness or are in harms way as they serve our country, I feel for you and what you are going through. There is no greater love than that of a parent for a child. May God give each of us the strength to be the parents we need to be for the situation. May God sooth our gut wrenching pain, and make us whole.

Monday, February 8, 2010

We all have a past and some of it isn't pretty. We feel loss, grief, anger, hurts, and any number of incidents in our lives that could bring us down or make us less. But there is hope for all of us. Author Mary DeMuth's new book THIN PLACES shows just how a negative can bring a positive to our lives and the choices we make can change us. Here is her story. Please get a copy of her book soon. It is life changing.

My True Story

By Mary DeMuth

When I started my writing journey toward publication, I thought I’d always be a novelist. My agent at the time suggested I write parenting books, something I balked at for quite some time. I was a storyteller after all. And because of my upbringing, I suffered from deep wells of insecurity in my parenting. And yet, I sold three parenting books. I wrote them from a position of weakness, and I prayed other parents with struggles similar to mine would be encouraged that they’re not alone. One facet strung its way through all my books: story.

I can’t help but tell stories, whether they be fiction or nonfiction. As I brainstormed with my next agent and my editor about who I wanted to be when I grew up, we all came back to story. I am a storyteller. We decided it would be best for me to place my primary focus on novel writing, but keep the storytelling alive in nonfiction.

Two years ago, I sensed the need, urge, and desire to write a memoir. I’d come a long way in my healing journey, enough that I could write it without bitterness, with a view toward God’s intervention. Thankfully, my vision for a memoir fit well within the story idea, and Zondervan took a risk and bought the book.

I wrote the book much like I’d write a novel, with an inciting incident, some flashbacks, a rising action and a late climax. Of course, as memoirs go, I had more freedom to explore and meander through the story, but I kept the book mostly in scenes, written in first person present tense to create intimacy and immediacy with the reader.

It was difficult to create me as the main character, to place the potential reader into my own head, to play it out in a way that would woo the reader to turn the page. In doing that, I learned even more about myself, how I viewed the world (sometimes in a warped way!), and what possible impact my journey might have on fellow strugglers.

Though I knew well the landscape, setting, and characters of my life, it proved difficult to give myself permission to truly delve in deeper, to re-feel my pain, angst, joy, frustration, anticipation, and worry. Once I let myself go there, the memoir progressed. And my editor helped me shape the book more chronologically, something for which I’m deeply thankful.

The end result is story: mine. It’s the story of a little girl who faced sexual abuse, neglect, drug-using parents, fear, death of a parent, and a host of other malevolence. And yet it’s a hope-filled story, where the bright light of God’s climactic redemption outshines the dark places. It’s a story of God’s nearness when I thought I’d nearly lose my mind and will to live. How grateful I am for the beautiful love of Jesus, how dearly He chose frail me to shame the wise. It’s really His story after all.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Author-Alice J Wisler

I have found an author who has experienced the same grief that many of our readers have felt and she has taken that sadness and turned it into books and journaling programs to help others.

Alice J Wisler has a blog at where she shares her loss and the feelings of grief she has felt since her son passed away from cancer. Those of you who are parents may relate well to what she has to say and benefit from signing up for her newsletter.

It is easier to relate to a parent who has experienced the same kind of grief you have experienced and it is important to reach out to someone when you are going through the pain. Online contact can be encouraging even if all you do is read her posts and know that you are not alone in your feelings.

Alice also has a website to promote her books and her workshops on journaling through the grief. Check out her site at for more information.

Grief is a tangible pain. Seek sources to aid you through the process. Check it out.

Alice has written several books including Rain Song and How Sweet It Is. Get your copies of one of these books for your reading time. I am sure you will find something at her site or in her books that will touch your heart.