A Shoulder to Lean On

By Kathryn Bradley

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Every 33 minutes a child in this country is diagnosed with a severe, life-threatening illness. For those who are lucky enough to have a child in their lives, this news is the single most fearful and difficult message to hear. Parents, family, and friends scramble to research treatments, locate the finest physicians and facilities, and battle with insurance companies. But what can be done to really prepare a child for the greatest battle of their life?

This is a question that I have long asked… how can we prepare a young, innocent child for the physical and emotional toll of undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and bone marrow transplants? How can you really prepare a child for being removed from everything that is safe and familiar to them, for an extended hospital stay, for the loss of their hair, for countless uncomfortable and painful procedures, and ultimately, for the fight of their life? How can we expect a child to stay positive, focus on recovery, and most importantly, always to hold on to the hope that exists to be cured from the very illness that threatens their life?

My response to this grave dilemma was to write an informative, inspirational book for children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and who will be preparing for treatment, specifically a bone marrow transplant. 17 years ago I received news that I had the life-threatening illness Severe Aplastic Anemia and would require a successful bone marrow transplant to survive. I remember the fear and uncertainty in the eyes of my parents and family. Most of all, I remember feeling helpless, without an idea of what to expect. I had so many questions and concerns and few places to find answers. There was nothing available to prepare me for the grueling process of treatment, and I decided that I must come up with a plan so that no child would have to cope with the same fear and uncertainty.

My name is Kathryn Bradley and I wrote a book for children who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and who will be preparing for a bone marrow transplant. The title of the book is, A Shoulder to Lean On. The story is told through the eyes of a survivor of Severe Aplastic Anemia, as she describes the experience of being in the bone marrow ward and undergoing a transplant to a young girl, who has just been diagnosed, requiring a transplant. The purpose of my book is provide some familiarity and comfort to children and their families prior to undergoing a transplant, as well addressing some of questions, fears, and concerns they may have.

The theme of my story is simply to hold on to HOPE and to stay positive through a process that is certainly scary and intimidating to anyone and everyone involved. The story discusses what to expect, from when a patient is first diagnosed, to the transplant and recovery, and to an eventual return home. The story touches upon real feelings and fears that one may question or have.

This is a non-profit book and the more money raised, the more books we can print and distribute to children's hospitals and families across the world.

If there is a difference that can be made, any comfort or advice that can be given, then at least I would feel like I valued the new life that I have been thankful to receive.

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