Grand Girlfriends Funds Grant to Purchase Books that Explain Cancer to Children
Mothers and grandmothers are often the main caregivers in their families. What happens when they must step back from this role due to a cancer diagnosis, and in turn undergo dramatic changes?
“I kept saying to everyone, ‘It’s still me,'” said 12-year cancer survivor Rebecca DuBois who received her treatment at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center in 2005.
This phrase, “Still Me,” —combined with prayer, continued love and support from her friends and family — bolstered DuBois throughout her treatment, and in turn, became the title of the book DuBois geared toward children with people in their lives who are undergoing cancer treatment.
Published in 2012, DuBois’ book is “meant to be used as a tool to create a dialogue between children and their loved ones,” she said. “I was inspired by God to tell His message about the journey of cancer, as seen by the child and his mother.”
As a nurse navigator at the cancer center, Katie Bouwhuis, BSN, was given the book by another nurse navigator and gave it to a newly diagnosed mom of three young children.
“After a few minutes, I came back to find the mom reading it, tears streaming down her face, appreciative of the way the book represents cancer treatment and the child’s perspective,” said Bouwhuis. “It didn’t talk about her dying as the end result, but rather showed the changes she and the relationships with her kids would undergo.”
It was that same day that Bouwhuis received a request from the Saint Mary’s Foundation, calling for small grant opportunities funded by the Grand Girlfriends, an all-female donor group that supports the health care needs of women at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.
“It was providential,” said Bouwhuis, who applied for the grant.
The Lacks Cancer Center was awarded the grant by Grand Girlfriends to purchase 350 copies of Still Me, which is about a year’s supply for newly diagnosed female patients at Lacks Cancer Center.
“As social workers and nurse navigators, we will be able to provide this book as a tool for cancer patients to use with their children and grandchildren,” said Bouwhuis.
DuBois offers her words as a message of hope and strength to cancer patients: “The book uses the imagery of trees, as people are like trees, with strong roots that can weather storms and the givers of life,” said DuBois. Still Me takes the reader through four different seasons to show transitions in life, and in turn, through the course of cancer treatment, before the person is renewed.
DuBois has inserted a bird in each picture, as the “bird represents God, as He is always with us on this journey.”
Bouwhuis agrees, “It was a God moment that led us here, to be able to receive these books as gifts for our patients.”