Breast Cancer Survivor Writes Children’s Book about Coping with Cancer
Written by: Kelli Koch
CAMBRIDGE, Ohio, Feb. 11, 2011 – Cancer treatments are a scary experience, especially for a mother witnessing the traumatic effects her cancer has on her young children. Phyllis Knight Bachtel, a patient care tech at Southeastern Med and breast cancer survivor, knows that feeling firsthand. During her breast cancer treatments in 2009, she wrote and illustrated a book to help her son, Ben, cope and understand how cancer was affecting his mommy.
The nonfiction children’s book, Mommy’s Hair, was written from Phyllis son’s perspective. He was 5 when Phyllis was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44. The idea for the book came about when Phyllis couldn’t find a suitable children’s book that could help explain to kids what happens when a parent is battling cancer. “Right then the seed was planted to write this book,” Phyllis said. “Together, I knew our story would help not only Ben, but other families going through similar situations.”
After months of treatment summoned all of her physical strength and hair, it didn’t take her long to realize there was no keeping anything from her young son. “After each surgery, he saw the bandages and soon understood the seriousness of it all,” she said, “but the reality of didn’t hit until he saw my bald head. Suddenly, this experience wasn’t just about me – it was about the whole family. I knew my husband, Kevin, and oldest son, Corey, who was 25 at the time, could deal with the morality issues. I just couldn’t wrap myself around the thought of leaving a 5-year-old boy without his mommy. This book became not only therapy for him, but also for me.”
As Phyllis started putting pictures with her words, she could see both her and Ben beginning to heal. He would ask her numerous times a day to read him the story, and it brought them both comfort. She began showing others copies of the book, but had no idea how to get it published.
“Then, one day it happened,” Phyllis said. “We were at a local winery with my sister and her husband. I commented to Lisa, the server behind the counter, about a help wanted sign she had posted. She was looking for someone to help her serve wine to 50 women who were coming on a bus tour to raise money for Wine for Wigs. I then began telling her my story and showed her a copy of the book. Here is how I know God was working in my life. She turns to me after reading it and says “I used to work for a publishing company.”
Then, after a couple meetings and Lisa asking for a few favors from her former employer, the book was published. Mommy’s Hair is now available for a $5 donation to help cover the book’s printing costs by calling Phyllis at 330-204-1743.
“This is the something good that came from my journey with cancer, and that to me is worthwhile,” she said. “I could have given in, but I didn’t. And for that, I am stronger in my heart and soul now, and so is Ben.”