Having Breast Cancer Inspired Me to Write the Children’s Book, ‘Cancer Hates Kisses’

Two years ago, shortly after completing a grueling course of chemotherapy, I submitted a manuscript to Penguin for a children’s book about cancer. I was determined to use my voice and my perspective to create a story that could help others — namely the many mothers like myself I met during treatment.

I didn’t think I had a shot in hell at being published because it was a children’s book about cancer.

But the universe works in surprising ways. I never imagined I would have cancer at such a young age, but then I did.

I never imagined I would write a children’s book about cancer, but then I did.

I never imagined I would be able to translate my experience as a cancer survivor into a story that could help other families, but with the help of Penguin, I did.

My book is entitled “Cancer Hates Kisses” and was released today. “Cancer Hates Kisses” flips the traditional cancer script. It is not a sad story; it is an empowering one.

It is a story that recognizes the superhuman strength required to kick cancer’s butt and be a parent.

It is a story that celebrates the unique role children play when a parent is sick.

I didn’t just sit down and write the book in one day. I really thought about my personal cancer journey, how other parents and children would feel and about its overall message.

With that being said, here are some things I want you to know about “Cancer Hates Kisses:”

I want you to know this is a true story.

Not only is it true that cancer hates kisses, but this story really happened. I was a brand new mother when I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. This is the story of how my daughter, with her smiles and laughter and snuggles, helped me to be a cancer-fighting superhero.

If you are a parent who was recently diagnosed with cancer or undergoing active treatment or in remission, I want you to know you are a cancer-fighting superhero.

Even when chemo makes you feel like shit and you are angry at the universe because you got cancer and you are crying because it all sucks so much, you are still a superhero. You are brave. You are fierce. You are a warrior because you wake up each day and do what you have to do to fight this horrible disease.

If you are the child of a parent with cancer, I want you to know your love is as powerful as modern medicine.

When your mommy loses her hair from chemotherapy, rub her beautiful bald head and tell her she’s gorgeous. Cancer hates compliments! When your daddy is exhausted from radiation, climb into bed and snuggle with him. Cancer hates your cuddles, hugs and joy!

If you are a doctor, a surgeon, a therapist, a social worker, or an educator, I want you to know this book is a simple, yet powerful, tool that families desperately need.

“Cancer Hates Kisses” demystifies cancer for children, using simple language to discuss complicated subjects like surgery, chemotherapy, hair loss, and radiation. It prepares children for what will likely come with a cancer diagnosis, be it any type of cancer, but also provides them with simple strategies to support their loved one.

If you know someone with cancer, I want you to know although this is a picture book for children, it’s just as much a story for adults.

We all struggle when someone we love faces a diagnosis of cancer and the subsequent battle. This book is meant to inspire empathy in readers and to provide simple, tangible mechanisms by which to support a loved one through an immensely difficult time.

To say I’m  passionate about this book is an understatement. This book is a reflection of a very personal time in my life, and it’s my way of inspiring and educating other families who are fighting cancer.

Cancer Hates Kisses cover

In addition to a portion of proceeds going to Mt. Sinai’s Dubin Breast Center, Penguin will also donate a portion to the American Cancer Society.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photos courtesy of Penguin Books

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Breast Cancer

Commander Newman-Tarwater, Cheryl A.

Early Detection and HERA Helped Me Arrest the Spread of Breast Cancer

As the daughter and great-grand-daughter of breast cancer survivors, I knew I was at increased risk of developing breast cancer. My Ashkenazi Jewish heritage also increased the likelihood I would develop cancer in my lifetime. But I had heard once breast cancer “skips” a generation, and I clung to that falsehood desperately. Still, when my [...]
Olivia Newton John

Olivia Newton-John Supports Medical Marijuana, Uses It as Part of Her Cancer Care

Four months ago, Olivia Newton-John revealed to fans she had a relapse with breast cancer. On Sunday, in an interview with “60 Minutes” Australia, Newton-John shared how medical marijuana is helping her through the crippling pain. Newton-John was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, just days after her father died of cancer. She went through chemotherapy [...]
Patient in MRI machine

An Open Letter to My Radiation Therapists After Breast Cancer Treatment

Dear folks at radiation therapy, I’m done! I moved a crabby, wounded animal on my first week of treatment through to feeling a glimmer of joy today that this cancer business is done… for now. You have helped me these past four weeks. Thank you. I always presumed competence, but it was your kindness and humanity [...]
hand holding apple

An Apple a Day: Breast Cancer, Research and Being Proactive

About six months ago, I got a letter from my health care provider asking me to participate in a study. They’d chosen me, the letter said, because my breasts had a significant amount of dense tissue, and therefore, I had a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer. I stared at the paper and [...]