A new book to teach kids about chemo's side effects

November 8, 2011 1:51:34 PM PST
According to the American Cancer Society, over 11,000 children will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Teaching kids about chemo and why their classmates may lose their hair is the goal of their new book "The Long and The Short Of It".

One of the characters is based on Emma Wheeler, who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was five-years-old. Emma required chemotherapy, and her hair fell out as a side effect.

"It was just really embarrassing because people weren't able to differentiate me from being a boy or a girl," Emma said. "Not having hair is kind of the hallmark of being sick."

Pediatric oncology nurse, Dawn Stys, says how kids cope usually depends on their age.

"Your younger, school aged-kids um deal with it right up front. It's pretty traumatic when it does happen but then they adjust pretty quickly," Stys said.

She sees its impact the most on teenage girls.

"They're the most into their image and obviously your hair or hair style is such a big part of that so it's really difficult," Stys said.

After Emma recovered, she decided to grow her hair long to donate to a charity that makes hairpieces for sick kids, and in the children's book, the other character grows her hair long and then she's inspired to donate it to Emma.

LINK: www.cancer.org/aboutus/booksandjournals/app/bookstore.aspx