Cancerbackup launches comic to help children with cancer

Cancerbackup, the UK's largest information and support charity, has launched a comic-style book designed to help reduce the fear of cancer for children diagnosed with the condition and help them to understand the treatments in a sensitive and easily accessible way. 

The book called Peppermint Ward has grabbed the attention of best selling children's author Jacqueline Wilson who said: "Peppermint ward is a colourful easy to read story in comic strip form about football loving Sam who has cancer. It's obviously very frightening for a child to be diagnosed with a serious illness. This book shows what happens in a hospital in a simple matter of fact way. It's honest but very reassuring. It should be very comforting and helpful to all children in this scary situation."

Funded by a grant from the BBC's Children in Need, Peppermint Ward, is written for six-to-nine-year-olds and follows the story of Sam, a football-mad boy, through his diagnosis and treatment for cancer in his leg. The comic tackles difficult issues around treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and lumbar punctures. The comic also deals with some of the common side effects of treatment, like hair loss, fatigue and nausea.  

Jack Walsh, age 9 who has leukaemia and has been helped by the comic, said:

"Being told you have cancer is scary but when you know what is going to happen it does not seem so bad. I was told I had cancer three years ago so I sort of know what to expect when I need to go to hospital. But for children who have just been told they are really ill they must be so worried, just like I was. So this is why Peppermint Ward is fantastic as it tells you all about going to hospital and what to expect. I've read it loads and so has my little sister."

"Having cancer does affect me every day even if I am well enough to go to school. I can't play football for example in case I hurt myself as my immune system is low so if I fell over I would have to go to hospital, so I am going to get my friends to read Peppermint Ward so they know why I can't join in with them and why I'm chatting to my nice dinner lady instead!"

Debbie Coats, Senior Nurse with Cancerbackup, said:

"Peppermint Ward has been produced to help children and their parents understand and cope with a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment. There are over 1,500 new cases of childhood cancers diagnosed each year, although encouragingly 75 per cent of children will survive for at least five years and many will recover and be regarded as cured. It is obviously a confusing and frightening time for both parents and children and by making the subject more accessible through simple language, we hope that they will be able to understand and talk about what is happening to them."

Cancerbackup also has an interactive website aimed at teenagers called TIC (Teen Info on Cancer - www.click4tic.org.uk) which offers honest practical advice and support on how to cope with cancer, as well as space to share experiences. The launch of Peppermint Ward adds another information resource for an even younger audience faced with cancer.   

Call Cancerbackup's helpline on 0808 800 1234 for information on cancer and a free copy of Peppermint Ward.


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For more information or copies of Peppermint Ward during office hours please contact John Cox 0207 920 7218 or jcox@cancerbackup.org  or  Michelle Rowley on 0207 920 7219 or mrowley@cancerbackup.org For press enquiries outside office hours please call 07973 308 346.

  1. Cancerbackup is the only national charity that specialises in providing information on all types of cancer.
  2. All Cancerbackup services are free to cancer patients, their relatives and friends.
  3. Cancerbackup Freephone Information Service: 0808 800 1234 (Mon-Fri, 9am-8pm).  Cancerbackup Centres can be found in St Bartholomew's Hospital, Charing Cross Hospital, the London Clinic, The Christie Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, Nottingham City Hospital, Walsgrave Hospital and the Torbay Hospital Annexe. The charity's interactive website can be found at www.cancerbackup.org.uk
  4. Cancerbackup, as a charity, receives 54% of its funding from individuals, 11% from charitable trusts, 5% from grants, 14% from companies, 2% from investments and 14% from its trading company.  Pharmaceutical companies contributed 9% of the total 2005/06 income.

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