PR for People Monthly December 2014 - Page 6

From a very young age, personal tragedies propelled Jenevieve Fisher to want to help people get well.

When she was just 6 years old, her younger brother, age 2, passed away from spinal meningitis. She also had a cousin, just two years younger than her, with cerebral palsy. Growing up together, she said, they were as close as brother and sister. And so she also witnessed the struggle of living with a disability, for him and his family.

“I had this deep understanding of tragic loss as a young child, and watched what my family went through,” she said. “I just gained a passion and an intense understanding of how difficult it can be, through loss and illness, and also through disability. I really took that knowledge and that passion to really make a difference to families, and especially the children.

Then, at age 22, her understanding became even more personal. “When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I personally endured what it was like to live with a disease and go through treatment,” she said.

Fortunately for Jenevieve and her five children, the chemo and radiation therapies were a complete success.

New life’s work

These experiences with illness led to her become a pediatric radiation oncology therapist, working with some of the sickest children with cancer at the Swedish Hospital Cancer Institute and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Spurred on by her experience working with the families of children needing bone marrow transplants, she wrote and published a series of picture books aimed at informing children about every aspect of their disease and treatment.

The first book is called I Am a Kid Living with Cancer, and it explains everything about cancer, “down to the DNA,” she said. The book, which begins with “What does it feel like?” and continues all the way through remission, is presented from a child’s point of view.

“I had this deep understanding of tragic loss as a young child, and watched what my family went through,”

Jenevieve Fisher:

Living Lessons of Healing

How personal challenges have helped children understand their own illnesses

By Manny Frishberg