This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of Jack and Elly’s mum’s diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. Mummy finds a lump in her breast and the doctor diagnoses breast cancer (the illustration shows the doctor holding up an X-Ray of the lump). Importantly, the reader is told that you can’t catch cancer (like you can a cold or chickenpox) and that it doesn’t come because you have been naughty or cross with someone. Mummy is sad and Daddy is worried. Mummy is admitted to hospital for an operation to remove the lump (there is a description of how the anaesthetic means that she won’t feel what is happening) and the children visit her afterwards. Daddy looks after the household in her absence. The story acknowledges that this is a very difficult time for the children’s father – he has to cope with extra household and family duties and at the same time is worried about his wife. He is sometimes cross when he is worried or sad. Mummy goes on to have chemotherapy (‘strong medicine’) which leaves her feeling sick and tired, and sometimes grumpy, cross and reluctant to play (although she still loves to cuddle). She loses her hair temporarily (she wears a wig or a bandana – one illustration shows her bald, with the wig resting on the bedpost behind her as she puts on her make up). Mummy’s next treatment is radiotherapy which is described as a special x-ray which kills any remaining ‘bad bits’ of the lump without hurting any ‘good parts’. This makes her skin sore and she is tired. The final page depicts the family enjoying a seaside holiday after the treatment is finished. The doctors continue to check to see if the cancer has returned, but everyone feels much happier.
Providing a reassuring and realistic account which may dispel some of the fears young children have about cancer, the treatments which are given for it and how it affects family life.
The conclusion of the story is open ended, not revealing whether or not Mummy makes a full recovery. However the book ends on a happy note with a family holiday and everyone feeling less worried and unhappy.
Breast Cancer Care publishes Mummy's Lump and provides PDF versions and an e-book for iPads free of charge. The Ashley Trust supports the publication. If you would like a copy you can order from here