Finding words of comfort and wisdom

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Republished online as originally printed in the Post-Gazette Aug. 26, 1997.

Sharon Myers didn't know whether to laugh or to cry when she read Erma Bombeck's "I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise," a book with the subtitle, "Children Surviving Cancer" (Harper & Row, 1989).

She laughed, and she cried.

Bombeck's collection of anecdotes of children's reactions to having cancer helped her as she watches her own 6-year-old son, Alex, respond to the sudden change in his life after he was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia.

Social workers at Children's Hospital provide several books for children. High on Myers' list is "Some Things Change and Some Things Stay the Same," by Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (American Cancer Society).

Reading the sensitive, straightforward book to Alex enabled mother and child to talk about his cancer for the first time.

The American Cancer Society also published "When Your Brother or Sister Has Cancer." She gave it to Alex's sister, Tyler, 9, who read it and then told her parents how she had some of the same feelings - mostly jealousy and anger.

For parents, Myers recommends:

"Young People With Cancer," "Talking With Your Child About Cancer," "When Someone in Your Family Has Cancer" and "Managing your Child's Eating Problems," all published by the National Institutes of Health.

After she finished Bombeck's book, Myers picked up "A Story of Courage and Grace" by former major-league baseball pitcher Dave and Jan Dravecky, with Ken Gire (Zondervan Publishing House). She said she found Dravecky's story about how he coped with losing his left arm, his pitching arm, to cancer "more spiritual."?


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