A picture story for children

Romsey mother Cheryl Slade didn’t know how to explain to her two-year-old son that she had cancer.

Ms Slade and her husband tried to find picture books, which her son Carson loves, to explain the situation, but could only find books for four or five-year-old children.

“We were devastated that we couldn’t explain what was happening and to say that everything will be okay,” Ms Slade said.

Cheryl Slade reached remission in January this year and hopes to continue writing.

“I ended up in isolation twice for five days each – one time was over Christmas – and my husband encouraged me to write down what I wanted to say to Carson.

“It was very difficult to be away from my son like that for the first time.”

During that period in hospital in 2017, she wrote down all of the things she would like her son to hear.

“I sent my notes to a couple of friends afterwards who really encouraged me to get it published,” she said.

“I titled it ‘Mummy Is Sick but I Love You’ and my family and friends raised $3500 for an illustrator and a publisher, which was wonderful.”

She said she cherished the moment when she shared the story with her son.

“The first time I read it to Carson it was an amazing, he just got it,” she said.

“I said things like ‘Mummy can’t always make your favourite food’ or ‘Mummy is sad and angry sometimes so she needs kisses and cuddles’. He then would give me them.”

Romsey mother Cheryl Slade’s book to help explain to young children about the cancer experience.

A third of the illustrations in the book are of Ms Slade and her son – the front cover was during her chemotherapy.

“The public have really loved it and appreciated the book. I have given it to childcare centres who have loved reading it to kids,” she said.

“Parents and grandparents have ordered them. It’s not just about cancer, a little boy said his mum was really sick during her pregnancy.”

Ms Slade reached remission in January 2019 and is thinking about her next step in writing.

“We’ve thought about lots of different things, maybe another book about depression,” she said.