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

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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.

Photos courtesy of Penguin Books

Originally published: September 19, 2017
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