Nurse Ted: A Children's Guide to Cancer


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Author: Ffion Jones and Kerry Foster-Mitchell

Illustrator: Ffion Jones

Publisher: Belrose Books

How this book might help: This is a very useful text, written in a clear and concise way. It might help a child to understand some of the facts about cancer, its diagnosis and treatment. It could also encourage a child to talk about their emotions if they are experiencing a similar situation.

Nurse Ted works at the hospital, and enjoys helping people to feel better if they are unwell - people like Ben's mum, who, as Nurse Ted explains, has been starting to feel poorly. Nurse Ted talks us through each stage of Ben's mum's illness, from when she first visits the doctor, to when she comes to the hospital for tests to find out what is wrong. Ben and his Dad are involved in every stage of the process, and are by Mum's side. At the hospital, Nurse Ted shows us some life-like pictures of the machinery that can help the doctors to find out what is wrong with Ben's mum. We are shown a scanner, and Nurse Ted explains that it takes pictures of the inside of the body, so we can see what's wrong. After Ben's mum has her scan, and following a few more tests, Nurse Ted explains that Mum has a lump inside her body, which is why she feels poorly - a tumour. Ben's mum's tumour is found to be cancerous. At this point, Nurse Ted explains to Ben all about cancer, and how it is caused by the cells of the body going wrong and clumping together. Some of these cells will be taken out and looked at under a microscope, so that the doctors can discover what type of cancer Ben's mum has. Nurse Ted tells Ben about the many different types of cancer, and how his mum's treatment will depend on which type of cancer she has. The three treatments – an operation, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, are all explained in a way that a child would understand. Ben's mum has an operation, and once she has recovered from that, she has some radiotherapy. Ben and his dad are worried about Mum, who continues to feel unwell, but they talk to each other, and find comfort that way. Ben makes his mum a beautiful card, and they visit her in the hospital. Finally, Ben's mum has chemotherapy. Nurse Ted explains why Mum is feeling ill, and also why her hair is falling out. Ben is sad about his mum's hair, but Nurse Ted explains that it shows that the chemotherapy is doing its job. Ben enjoys helping Mum to choose a bright scarf to wear on her head. Once all three treatments are complete, Ben's mum can stay at home with Ben and his dad, and they can all enjoy spending time together. Mum still has to go to the hospital sometimes to see how she's doing, and Nurse Ted says that whatever happens in the future, Ben's hugs are the best medicine Mum could wish for.

Reviewed by: Rebecca Seymour

Things we liked about this book: The use of language in this book is clear and calming, whilst at the same time, honest. There are no promises made, and no guarantees of a cure, but the emphasis in on the love within the family, and how that helps the patient above all else.

Worth Noting: The illustrations are useful, in the sense that they show a real-life background of a hospital and medical equipment. This could help make the environment less daunting for a child who will be exposed to such things. There is an unusual combination of the real-life photographic images and starkly illustrated people. The artwork conveys some of the feelings the characters are experiencing, with emotive facial expressions. The repetitive, illustrated figure of Nurse Ted is a comforting presence. Kerry Foster-Mitchell, A Neuro-Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, is the co-author who has written an information section at the back of the book which is also very useful.

Age Range: 2+

Tags: cancer, doctor, family, hair, hospital, illness, injections, medicine, mother, serious illness, terminal illness

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