This article is part of The Ismaili’s Coping with Challenges series, in which we highlight stories about members of the Jamat who have dealt with uncommon difficulties in their lives.
The doctors said I had acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL), a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Being in the hospital at such a young age, I don’t remember too much, but I do remember getting blood work done in my arms, hands, and sometimes even my feet when needed.
As an adult now, looking back at my time at the hospital, I thought about my most vivid memory: when my mom would read to me a story called “Sophie’s Hideaway,” while I was going through chemotherapy. That book came with me to every single treatment I had at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. I found comfort in that book.
I wondered about today’s children going through something similar and wished for them to find the same comfort I had when going through something so difficult at such a young age. That’s when I thought to myself “why am I not writing a children’s book?” I took out my computer and started typing away. I wrote my story. I wrote about my experience in the hospital, and I wrote about how amazing the doctors and nurses were.
Sophie's Story: I Have Cancer was published earlier this year and tells my story as a young girl in hospital battling cancer while trying to live a “normal” child’s life. I tried to share the vital message that children are so strong and brave when going through difficult situations. Even though the book title has the word “cancer” in it, there is a happy ending. I explain that I am now a kindergarten teacher, even though I missed attending kindergarten, because I was in the hospital. But I am here today, telling my story.
I also remember my oncologist, Dr Pritchard and my nurse, Angela who took such good care of me while at the hospital. They were there every step of the way and it felt like they became a part of my family because they were around me so much. Recently, through an Instagram post from BC Children’s Hospital about my book, I was reconnected with Angela. She remembered me and my time at the hospital. I had the opportunity to thank her for everything she did for me and told her that I never forgot her. In fact, she’s a character in my book.
Angela tells me over and over again how proud she is of me for telling my story. My family and I will forever be grateful to BC Children’s Hospital and all the doctors and nurses who saved my life. That is why I decided to donate a portion of the proceeds from my book to The Michael Cuccione Cancer Research Program at the hospital. The Michael Cuccione Foundation has worked diligently to fund childhood cancer research and make a difference in the fight against childhood cancer. This year, the foundation is celebrating 25 years of fundraising in memory of Michael, who at the age of nine, had a vision to support various cancer research programmes across Canada and the United States.”
Children who are going through cancer need different treatment to adults. This is why it is so important that researchers continue to study childhood cancer and identify appropriate treatment plans.
“One person can only do so much but together we can make a difference,” said Michael, who passed away from cancer at the age of 16.
I have a number of wishes for my book. I hope it can help children going through cancer to find comfort, and to know they are strong and brave. I also hope it can be a tool for adults to use when talking to children about the subject of cancer. My biggest hope for this book is to make a small difference in a child’s life.
Sophie's Story: I Have Cancer is available to purchase in hardcover and paperback formats.