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Cancer survivor writes self-published book for the ‘smallest cancer patients with love’

‘My Little Survivor’ meant to help kids get through serious illnesses such as cancer

A Sudbury woman has written what she calls a book “written from a cancer patient to the smallest cancer patients with love.”

In June 2019, Jennifer Gaudette-Besserer, a ward clerk at HSN, photographer and a mother of three, was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma beside her spine.

She went 25 rounds of radiation, and a year ago, she went through a major surgery in which the tumour was removed and seven of her vertebrae were fused. 

“I’m still not 100 per cent,” Gaudette-Besserer said. “I’m still healing and stuff, because it was a really major operation. It takes a long time;

“I’ve been doing a lot of physio ... so far, so good. My scans have been coming back clear for the last year, so it’s definitely positive.

“With this type of cancer, the worry is it’s going to show up in your lungs, because if it’s going to spread, it’s basically where it’s going to go. I have to do chest x-rays and CT scans very regularly, every few months.”

While Gaudette-Besserer’s cancer journey has been challenging, she said she can’t imagine what it would be like for children to go through cancer, or the agony experienced by their parents.

“I can’t even imagine it,” said the mother of a 15-year-old, 11-year-old and four-year-old. “I’ve thought about that a lot of times. I was glad it was me and not one of them.”

With a lot of time on her hands as she recovered from surgery during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, Gaudette-Besserer started writing a book aimed at kids with cancer and other serious illnesses. She called it “My Little Survivor.”

It addresses some of the negative feelings such as anxiety that come with a serious illness, but also tries to help kids in this situation feel empowered. 

For example, she tells them that when they’re feeling strong, they can share their strength with others, and when they’re feeling grateful, they can thank their doctors.

As a fellow cancer survivor, Gaudette-Besserer said she’s gone through just about every emotion there is to have.

“I’m hoping that when they’re going through a hard time, their parents will be able to read it to them, and they’ll be able to get through whatever they’re going through at that time, to just give them so advice on how to get through it,” she said.

The woman said she’s never written a book before, but is a creative person. Gaudette-Besserer said when she showed the book to one of her kids’ teachers, the teacher told her she absolutely had to get it published. 

She was able to find an illustrator online called Anaggi Rois, and the author said he really brought the book to life.

The books, which cost $25 each, are currently being sold through pre-sale on the website for Fotojenick Studios, Gaudette-Besserer’s photography business. The writer said the books will be printed “very soon.”

Half of the proceeds will go to the Northeast Cancer Centre, and the other half will fund the cost of printing the books. There is an option on the website to purchase a book to donate to a child who needs it.

“I’ll donate those books to the cancer centre so that they can give them out to the kids there,” Gaudette-Besserer said.