Nowhere Hair

A new book for children and families provides a valuable tool for talking about cancer—and it’s a good read.

By Diana Price

A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. No doubt about it. But for mothers of small children, it becomes clear very quickly that it is not a life-stopping event. Life must go on in spite of the elephant in the room: meals must be offered up, tears and noses must be wiped, baths must be drawn and dirt must be scrubbed, bedtime stories must be told, and small and big catastrophes must continue to be averted on a regular basis. In the midst of this, of course, is the reality of the diagnosis, which must also be dealt with. But the way in which parents choose to deal with it—and how surrounding issues are discussed with the children who are affected—can do much to alleviate the potential emotional burden families face.

Now families have a brilliant tool to help begin conversations about cancer treatment and, specifically, the disconcerting hair loss that can be upsetting for children. In Nowhere Hair (Thousand Words Press, 2010; $15.99), author and 12-year cancer survivor Sue Glader offers a whimsical and refreshingly honest look at the natural questions a young girl has about her mother’s suddenly absent hair and provides clear, reassuring explanations. Glader’s words are accompanied by stylish and endearing illustrations by Edith Buenen, which convey the hopeful and heartfelt spirit of the story.

For the book’s young star—and for the reader—the sometimes-silly yet poignant take on the topic serves to normalize the experience: it’s okay to be confused, worried, scared, and sad, the book says. And perhaps most important, Nowhere Hair shows us that though cancer treatment is scary and worrisome, it doesn’t change who we are on the inside, nor how much we love each other. Life does go on: mamas still hug their children, silliness is allowed, and all feelings—happy, sad, and otherwise—are valid.

For more information about Nowhere Hair,