“It’s the book you never want to buy”: How to tell your children you have cancer

A woman who battled a brain tumour has created a picture book to help parents tell their children they have cancer
Simone Baldwin - who has written the book to help other mums explain tumours to their children - pictured with her familySimone Baldwin - who has written the book to help other mums explain tumours to their children - pictured with her family
Simone Baldwin - who has written the book to help other mums explain tumours to their children - pictured with her family

Simone Baldwin, 47, from Conwy, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour called a vestibular schwannoma in 2017 and although her tumour was non-cancerous, it impacted her quality of life and she needed surgery. Her son Sam was only six years old at the time, and she struggled with knowing how to tell him about her tumour.

Simone said: “I’m rubbish at keeping secrets and I’m a big believer that kids pick up on emotions. Telling children about your own diagnosis is really difficult and knowing where to go for help was quite difficult. I couldn’t believe there was nothing to help parents in this situation.”

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So, she created Mummy has a lump as a tool for parents to use to tell their children about having cancer or a tumour.  She praised the support she had while going through surgery, but wished someone had offered guidance on how to support her family. She said: “The support I had for me was amazing but as a parent you need a slightly different kind of support for the family because your priority is your kids.” Her surgery was a success, and her tumour is now stable.

Simone Baldwin - who has written the book to help other mums explain tumours to their childrenSimone Baldwin - who has written the book to help other mums explain tumours to their children
Simone Baldwin - who has written the book to help other mums explain tumours to their children

Simone had never planned on writing a book, but one day found herself jotting down things that she felt would have helped her at the time. She said: “I felt very vulnerable thinking back to that time and thinking about what I would have liked to have. It’s just a very gentle conversation starter for parents. That’s all, it can’t provide the answers.”

It was six months before she looked at her writing again, and even then, it was not until her brain tumour support worker suggested that other people might need the resource, that she decided to share her book.

Simone said she struggled finding a publisher, she said: “Publishers were very lovely but it’s not a mass market, it’s not going to be a Christmas bestseller, it’s the book you never want to buy. I have had some wonderful messages from people who have read it with their children and that has meant such a lot. If my experience and effort provides a little bit of comfort to another parent, then something positive has come from it.”

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Speaking about the Princess of Wales’ recent cancer announcement, Simone said: “The one positive that’s coming out of it is that the topic is being talked about. It’s good these discussions are happening now because it’s important.”

Mummy has a lump is available for purchase on Amazon, The Brain Tumour Charity website, or it can be ordered into bookstores or libraries. Simone has also written Daddy has a lump and this can be bought on Amazon.

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