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'Caring For My Family With Cancer' – Children's book to support patients at Velindre Cancer Centre

Velindre NHS Trust is delighted to announce the publication of a new book designed to support patients and their families through cancer and treatments.

For the past few years Michele Pengelly, a Specialist Nurse, and Ceri Harris, Equality and Diversity Manager, have been writing and developing a series of children’s books to help support parents with a cancer diagnosis in talking to their children about cancer and its treatments.
Book image

Michele’s work involves meeting patients and family members at Velindre Cancer Centre to help identify access to services and provide them with support. In this role she often speaks to parents with cancer who worry about how to tell their children about their diagnosis and how to explain the treatments. Many families look for support and resources to help them do this.
Michele said: “Although there are some excellent resources to help parents talk to their children about cancer, I felt it would be helpful to develop a storybook to cater for the needs of all the families we were meeting.
“For example, it didn’t feel right to give a single parent mother with cancer a storybook about a family with two parents, or a father with  bowel cancer a book about a mother with breast cancer just because that was all we had available. How could children ever relate to this story?
“I was sure that we could do better and produce a series of books that more children and families could relate to.”
Michele was eager to develop a book that would help equip parents with the tools needed to have these conversations with their children and to know where to look for support.  She has written a book to help meet these needs and with Ceri’s expertise is working on producing various editions of the book to represent the diverse needs of families including single parent, same sex parent and older patient families. The entire collection of books will be available in hard print as well as electronic and audio versions. The aim is for it to eventually be available bilingually and in community languages, including British Sign Language and it is intended that the books will help to support families at such a stressful time in their lives. An audio version of the book is also being produced which actor and Velindre overseas patron Matthew Rhys has agreed to voice.
The storybook about a family’s experience of cancer features two cuddly lions and Velindre will give two lion teddies to each patient and the child at the same time as they receive their individual book. The lions have been purchased by Velindre Ambassadors Wayne and Fiona Phillips of the PS Group.
Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said:
“Discussing any serious illness with others can be difficult. Wanting to protect people from distress can also be a consideration. Some of the hardest questions arise when talking to children about cancer – it may be the most difficult thing someone will ever have to do.
“However, reaching out to children and openly sharing feelings can be an important first step. This book, and the subsequent series, will help those conversations and equip people with the confidence to talk openly and constructively with children about what a cancer diagnosis means.”
The official launch of the book takes place at the Pier Head Building, Cardiff Bay, on the 5th May, at 9.30am. Health Minister Mark Drakeford and Velindre Patron and three time British & Irish Lion Martyn Williams will be attending.
Source: Velindre Cancer Centre