When a Parent has Cancer [with Becky and the Worry Cup]
Harpham’s bookset continues to enjoy a reputation among social workers and survivorship groups of being “the best book” for families facing the twin tasks of raising children while dealing with a parent’s cancer or other serious illness. It was awarded the 2006 Consumer Book Award by the American Journal of Nursing.
Written from the heart of experience, Dr. Harpham—physician, long-term cancer survivor, wife and mother of three—offers clear, direct and sympathetic advice for parents, concerned others, and the children.
When a Parent has Cancer opens with a sound foundation for understanding and responding to children’s needs in healing ways not only for the children, but also for the parents. Dr. Harpham then provides specific plans for helping children through the upheaval of a parent’s diagnosis and treatment, remission and recovery, and, if necessary, confronting the possibility or likelihood of death.
With full understanding of the difficulty of achieving balance in the midst of change, she emphasizes the importance of being honest with children about the gravity of the illness, while assuring them that their basic needs will always be met. She encourages families to create a "new normal," in which cancer becomes a manageable part of daily life. She suggests concrete, creative ways for all family members to work together to achieve this equilibrium.
Dr. Harpham also addresses the special needs of single parents, teenagers and the well spouse as they cope with a parent’s illness. The paperback edition has an added chapter on raising children when a parent's cancer recurs or becomes chronic.
Included is Becky and the Worry Cup, an illustrated children's book that tells the story of a seven-year-old girl's experiences with her mother’s cancer. This book touches on the fears, anger, guilt and uncertainty that children feel when a parent is seriously ill.
Dr. Harpham has given us two important and invaluable books. They are written with the honesty and clear-sightedness that can come only from lived experience. She offers comfort, encouragement, and reasonable hope at the exact moment you might fear none is to be found. Most important, these books provide a plan of action for you and your children to live meaningfully and well when life is at its most uncertain.
Review by Jane Brody of the New York Times.
Praise for When a Parent has Cancer