DEALING with the pain of learning a loved one has cancer would be a tough challenge for anyone to face never mind a child finding out their mother has the disease.
But brave youngster Emma Sutherland has faced up to her mother’s condition in an extraordinary way – by setting out to learn as much as she could about the illness.
And now the 12-year-old is planning to write a book to help other children in the same position as herself.
Emma admitted she was “the most upset you can be” when she found out her mum Rosie had breast cancer.
She initially tried to find out more about the disease, but the Boroughmuir High pupil, now in S2, discovered there was next to nothing that would explain what was happening in a way she could understand and relate to – and the lack of information made her even more scared.
Now, Emma, who lives with her mum and ten-year-old sister Kate in Fairmilehead, is hoping to help others with a book about the experience. Called Eek! My Mummy Has Breast Cancer, the book will tell Emma’s story and also offer explanations of how breast cancer develops and the drugs used to treat it.
“I just did not want to be left in the dark about what was happening to mum when I found out about her cancer in February,” Emma told the News. “I wanted to know enough so that I could stop worrying so much.
“But getting the information was really, really difficult, especially for a 12-year-old. There are not many places where you can find out in your own language what is happening to someone who has cancer.
“There was stuff for adults and stuff for very young children, but nothing in between. There were some websites, but I did not find them reassuring and they did not give much information.
“Without information, I got more worried because I had no clue about what was going to happen.”
It was not until Emma visited the Maggie’s Centre at the Western General Hospital two weeks ago and talked about her mum’s cancer with one of the doctors that she felt she was beginning to understand.
“It was really helpful,” said Emma.
“The woman explained everything and in a way I could understand. It made me feel less worried.”
And a few nights later, while discussing the trip with her mum, who is now recovering after having a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, Emma had a brainwave.
“There was nothing out there for people my age and I just thought, I’ll do it – I’ll write a book,” she said. “I don’t want people to feel the way I did.”
Rosie, 41, who earlier this year posed nude for a Calendar Girls-style calendar in a bid to raise £30,000 for Breast Cancer Care, said she kept some of the details of her illness from Emma to protect her.
She said: “I didn’t tell her everything and there were too many pieces of information missing for her.
“Emma’s on the cusp of all these changes. She wanted to know more. She just decided maybe she should write a book about it and I told her it was a fantastic idea – she wants it done by Christmas.
“Nothing’s down on paper yet, but she loves writing and she’s an amazing artist. She’s also set up a Facebook page about it as well.
“The whole family are very, very proud.”