Nurse writes book easing brain tumor diagnosis for kids


It's hard for parents to hear that their child has a brain tumor. It's even harder for them to try to explain it to their child.

It's a struggle Zac Ives faced when his daughter Anna was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was two-an-a-half and again when she was four-years-old.

"Having that conversation with your kid trying to tell your kid, ‘You're going to have brain surgery' is kind of your worst nightmare," says Zac, "One of the toughest things to do is… How do you comfort your child when your life is kind of turned upside-down?"

It's a question Le Bonheur Neurosurgery Nursing Coordinator Brittney Lee hoped to make easier for parents.

Lee says one of the hospital's neurosurgeon's colleagues sent him a children's book about a child diagnosed with a brain tumor. The book was in Arabic, though, so the neurosurgeon left the task up to the nurses and Lee stepped up to the task.

She wrote "Joey's Wish" that follows the diagnosis and treatment of a young boy with a brain tumor at Le Bonheur. Lee says, "I wanted it to tell the story of the patients that we see walk through our doors with a brain tumor diagnosis. I wanted it to show the children what they can expect when they come to Le Bonheur."

The book's first copy was handed out Wednesday to a young girl diagnosed with a brain tumor that same day. Lee says the book did exactly what she hoped it would: Give parents and patients a jumping off point to start a dialogue about brain tumor diagnosis and treatment.

"She had not previously wanted to really talk about what was going on and her face just lit up. She was talking about the pictures in the book and wanted her mother to read her the story, so it was a really heartwarming story for me to hear," says Lee.

Le Bonheur's Parent-Family Partner Council played a role in the publishing of this book. The group of parents read the initial book and shared it with their kids before it went to the presses. It received rave reviews.

Zac, also a parent on this council, says, "Having a resource like this book where you can sit down proactively look through it and bring it down to their level is really powerful both for the kid and the parent."

Anna, now eight-years-old, read "Joey's Wish," too. She says the book will make a difference with patients like her, saying "I think it will encourage them to not be that afraid and know they'll feel good about it when they're all done."