Apr 22, 2018


Sometime Bears Get Sick Too

Download "Sometime Bears Get Sick Too"

New Children's Book Written By Dr. Dana Ashkenazi-Lustig of the Hemato-Oncoloy Department at Schneider Children's Aims to Assist Parents in Explaining the Process of Bone Marrow transplantation to Their Young Child who is suffering from Cancer.

The book was published through the generosity of the non-profit “Chaim” whose efforts benefit children with cancer

Each year, scores of children of all ages, some still toddlers, undergo bone marrow transplantation (BMT) in the Department of Hematology-Oncology at Schneider Children’s. “Sometimes Bears Get Sick Too” - a children’s book written by Dr. Dana Ashkenazi-Lustig, a doctor in the Hemato-Oncology Department at Schneider Children’s - was recently published to help explain the process of BMT to children, their parents and the supporting environment. The book was written in easy-to-read, simple and clear language suitable for young children, and describes the path of a small bear with cancer who needs a transplant and follows the concrete and relevant stages in the daily life of a sick child. The aim is to alleviate the burden on parents in explaining the process in a way that the child can understand.

Bone marrow transplants are performed in children with leukemia where conventional chemotherapy has proved insufficient or where the disease has recurred. BMT helps children with immunosuppressive diseases or other disorders of the bone marrow that do not respond to standard treatment. The process is long and complex with many hidden stages, from the meticulous search for a suitable donor in Israel or abroad and recruitment of the donor, to actual harvesting the marrow. Preparing the child for the transplant includes intensive chemotherapy in the BMT Unit, during which all the child’s cells in the bone marrow (both healthy and diseased cells) are eradicated prior to the transplant. The new cells are intended to replace the diseased bone marrow with disease-free healthy bone marrow. Hospitalization in the Unit is prolonged and challenging with much waiting, various side-effects such as fever, mouth sores, lack of appetite, and more. Due to the intensity of the treatment and hidden dangers in preparing for the transplant, children are required to remain in total isolation, in a room with their parents or only two adult visitors.

Dr. Ashkenazi-Lustig said about the book, “the need for a transplant is difficult both for the child and the parents and in our experience in the BMT Unit, we found that parents themselves need guidance in understanding and being able to explain the process to their sick child as well as their healthy children at home. Reading a book to a child promotes a close bond between parent and child, and this book simplifies the information allowing for the child’s questions about the process they will undergo.”

The charming book was written with the encouragement of Prof. Isaac Yaniv, former director of the Hemato-Oncology Department at Schneider Children’s, who backed the idea and endorsed input from the department’s psychological and social services headed by Michal Adiri and Anat Klein respectively, as well as the insight of the team in the BMT Unit headed by Dr. Jerry Stein; Hadas Halamish, head of social services in the Unit and Anat Yahel, BMT coordinator.

Through the support of the “Chaim” non-profit, the book will be distributed free to all children of appropriate age who are due to undergo a BMT in any hospital in Israel. The “Chaim” charity for children with cancer in Israel was founded 34 years ago and is active in all pediatric oncology departments in hospitals around the country. The organization is committed to saving lives and by saving one child, an entire family is saved. Similarly, improvement in cure rates among children with cancer and to be sympathetic to the needs of doctors. The management of “Chaim” is comprised entirely of volunteers, without any paid CEO.