Mum with terminal cancer writes book to help her explain ‘c-word’ to her young children
A mum who was diagnosed with terminal cancer has written a book to help her children understand her sudden diagnosis.
Sarah West, 34, from Loughborough, Leicestershire, was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2017 but was devastated when two-weeks later doctors told her that she was now terminal.
The primary school teacher searched for a book to help explain her illness to her two daughters, Amelia, 3, and Olivia, 6, but couldn’t find anything appropriate and so set about creating her own.
The book, ‘Mummy’s got a poorly’, talks through the process of chemotherapy and hair loss and helps young children to understand why Mummy may not be able to get out of bed.
Sarah said: “The girls were so young that I wanted a more sensitive way to tell them without using the c-word. I searched for books but there was nothing that was tailored to their age group and it was all so matter of fact.
“I was sat on one of my ‘ill days’ when I just started writing some words on my phone. I don’t think I ever thought it would come to much.”
Sarah visited the doctors after a lingering pain in her left arm and was referred to a breast clinic where she received an ultrasound and a mammogram.
Just two weeks after she received the news that she had stage four breast cancer, Sarah was told that it had spread to her bones, lungs, liver and most likely her brain.
“It was such a shock when I was told I had stage four breast cancer that I sobbed my heart out.
“My first thought was what about my children? And that it just wasn’t fair.”
Sarah went on her book with all the pictures drawn by her eldest daughter, Olivia, and was helped by a friend to get 2,000 editions of the book printed.
The mother-of-two found that creating the book help the family talk through the illness together, with her partner, Rups Saha, 35.
Sarah said: “Amelia is still quite young so she just keeps saying that Mummy’s needs to take her medicine when she has a poorly tummy.
“It has hit Olivia really hard and she started to ask me a lot about death, it was like she had suddenly grown up.
“We try to do as many family things, such as holidays and days out, but I still feel like they are being robbed of their childhood.”
Sarah never asked doctors about her long term prognosis as she wanted to live in the moment and not become fixated on how much time she would have with her family.
She said: “I think it was fear that stopped me from wanting to find out how much time I had left.
“Doctors told me that I would be given palliative care but there would be no cure.”
Sarah has since received messages of support from other parents in a similar situation and was told by a Macmillan nurse that it was ‘the best book she has seen’ for children going through a parents cancer treatment.
All funds made from the book will be going to the Osbourne Trust, which provides practical and emotional support for children and young people through a parents cancer treatment.
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