Explaining cancer to children can be difficult, but UWindsor science student Mckenzie Cervini has done it with all the flair of Dr. Seuss.
Cervini has written and illustrated a children’s book about the disease. It’s colourful — and it rhymes.
“I found there was a gap in communicating cancer in a simple way,” Cervini said of how she came up with the idea for the book she titled, The C-Word.”
“It covers the biology in layman’s terms.”
In her book, a tumour is a “strange-looking lump.” Some tumours are “nice,” but cancerous ones are “mean” and “make you slump.”
Said Cervini: “I wanted to make sure the science is factual, but easy to understand.”
The book was a final project for the Cancer Undergraduate Research Education (CURE) class taught by UWindsor cancer researcher Lisa Porter. The class had 43 third and fourth-year science students last semester who learned about oncology, the biology behind cancer, clinical research and how to communicate information in plain language.
Porter said Cervini’s book, which earned an A, covers all the topics covered in the course.
“She ended it off with hopeful message,” Porter said. It draws on the underlying theme of the Windsor Cancer Research Group, of which Porter is the scientific director.
“Without research, hope is just a word. That’s our tagline.”
Cervini said she worked on her book throughout the semester. As she learned new information, she distilled it into a short poem and incorporated it into her book. She used free software to draw the illustrations on her iPad using a stylus.
She printed one copy to hand in for her coursework. She will now set about doing some minor edits before having it published.
“The main goal is to see it in the community — families, parents, children, grandparents.” Cervini said.
“I want to give a greater understanding of what cancer and cancer research is to the Windsor community.”