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In the News Archive

Books can help kids understand cancer on their level

  • June 23, 2008
  • Number of views: 3461
By Julie Randle, Suburban Journals, June 23, 2008

There are too many books to count that aim at helping adults deal with medical conditions, but not nearly as many are written strictly for children.

One recent tool to aid children cope with cancer is “The Adventures of Thumbs Up Johnny: Heart Full of Hope and a Box Full of Wishes.”“Cancer in a family presents complicated issues,” said Teresa Deshields, manager of psych-oncology services at the Siteman Cancer Center. “And there are few books or media out there to help children in the 5- to 12-year-old age group understand cancer.”

In partnership with the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, author Michelle Bain released her book, which aims to help children ages 4 through 8 understand the cancer process.

Bain has authored a series of “Thumbs Up Johnny” books that teach children about friendship, financial responsibility and military service.

Her cancer book centers around three characters diagnosed with cancer, one of whom passes away. It also includes definitions and activities.

Lisa Crosson of Columbia, Ill., was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. At the time her son, Wil, was 8 and daughter, Grace, was 5.

“They were scared and knew nothing,” she said.

The family recently read the book together and gave it a thumb-up approval.

“I thought it was a good book,” Lisa Crosson said. “I was glad it spoke about people passing way. It’s part of the reality with cancer. It wasn’t my reality.”

Wil found the book to be helpful in explaining words and how tumors affect the body.

“It’s good to let kids know what’s going on in their loved one’s cancer life and understand it,” he said.

Bain can relate to the subject she wrote about in the book. Her mother was diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer when Bain was an adult.

“The book will mean different things to different children,” said Bain, a Clayton resident.

The book is free to patients at the Siteman Cancer Center and are available at its Barnard Health and Cancer Information Center.

For more information, visit or call (314) 362-7844.

The book also is available to the general public for $5.25 and can be purchased online at

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