As Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) 2013 comes to a close, our dedicated staff, volunteers and contributors want to share recommended reading that will inspire you, make you laugh and, above all, help you realize you are not alone. First up, regular blog contributor Ronda Walker Weaver and LBBC board member and long-time volunteer, Margaret Zuccotti, review books that have personally impacted them during their breast cancer journeys. Margaret reviews “Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings: When someone you love has cancer…a hopeful, helpful book for kids,” written by Ellen McVicker and illustrated by Nanci Hersh, and Ronda writes about the late comedienne and Saturday Night Live performer Gilda Radner’s “It’s Always Something.”
“The other day my mom went to the doctor. She didn’t even look sick, but she said she had to go anyway.” And so opens the story “Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings-When someone you love has cancer…a hopeful, helpful book for kids” written by Ellen McVicker and illustrated by Nanci Hersh.
That opening line is about as on target as I could get for my own situation back in the fall of 2006. To my children, I looked fine. I was tired, yes, but that’s because I had just had a baby and my other two children were young and energetic. I had found a lump in my breast that just wouldn’t go away. The lump and mammogram and ultrasound and doctor’s appointments all had to be attended to because, “I had to go anyway,” just like the story said.
This book does such a beautiful job of detailing the way children think and worry about a parent’s cancer. When I told my oldest, then age 6, he commented that he was sick, too. He had a cold. He thought we were in the same boat. Thank god we weren’t, but reading “Butterfly Kisses” to him allowed us to start a conversation about what was really happening inside of me. We reread the book many times over the next months and years to help calm us both.
It is so difficult knowing how to tell young children that a parent has cancer. What do you say? What don’t you say? So many families won’t say anything and it is truly important that kids are let into the conversation. “Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings” will help guide that talk. This book is a gem! –Margaret Zuccotti
During my chemo treatments, a neighbor knocked on my door, handed me a book, and said, “I found this at the library sale. I hope you’re not offended. She died, but I thought you might enjoy reading it.”
Radner’s “It’s Always Something” is intensely honest. Giving a glimpse into her life as an original member of “Saturday Night Live,” her marriage to actor Gene Wilder and her life with cancer, Radner made me laugh and cry while confirming the need for peer support and devoted caregivers.
Radner did not have breast cancer (she had ovarian cancer), yet her statements reminded me that I was not alone in my cancer journey, especially statements like these:
“Still, even after a lovely dinner, I came home in my new clothes and felt depressed. When I took off my outfit, there was my bald head. I was still a cancer patient. I was different.”
“Ooh, I hate this, I want to run away, let me get out of this.”
Radner’s overarching message is, “Never give up.” She faced her cancer head-on, dealt with the changes and fears that came her way, and then was brave enough to share her story. If you want validation of your cancer journey, this is the book to read. – Ronda Walker Weaver