When Beckie Gladfelter was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, she couldn’t find a single children’s book that could help explain the situation to her three boys.
“As a teacher and parent, I use books as teaching tools,” says Gladfelter, of Chesapeake Beach. “When I went to the library at the breast center, there were many books but none on the family shelf — not a single children’s picture book to help parents explain mommy’s medical diagnosis.”
So soon after her surgery in February 2015, she began writing her own book about her breast cancer treatment in a way she could imagine reading to her boys — who were 3, 5 and 7 at the time. The book, “My Warrior Mommy,” was recently published.
In a simple way, the book explains to children what to expect if their mom is diagnosed with breast cancer. It covers everything from surgery and how a mom won’t want to be hugged when she comes home to chemotherapy and how her hair will fall out. The book is based on her children’s questions and conversations the family had while she was going through treatment.
“I tried to tell them I had breast cancer, and they asked what breasts were, so I rephrased it and said my ‘puffy pillows’ got sick,” Gladfelter explains.
She says that she and her husband were open and honest with the boys, who at times would wear her wig around the house. “Throughout my treatment, my boys were by my side,” she says.
Gladfelter hopes the book will become part of new patient materials given to mothers diagnosed with breast cancer as a way to help them explain their diagnosis to their children. The book, illustrated by Sandi Foraci, retails for $14.95 in paperback and $19.95 in hardback. For more details visit MyWarriorMommy.com.
By Betsy Stein