11 year-old cancer survivor writes book about her struggle

Posted: 7/8/2012 7:31:00 PM
Author: Tomer Velmer
Source: This article originally appeared on the Ynet News website on july 8, 2012.

11-year-old cancer survivor writes book about her struggle
by Tomer Velmer

Shira Peled of Petah Tivka wins children's story prize with her book about undergoing cancer treatment. 'I went back to kindergarten and I'd sit with the dolls – I was the doctor and they were the patients,' she recalls

Children laugh at cancer patients, which is why 11-year-old survivor Shira Peled decided to write her book "The Bravest Girl in Kindergarten."

"Kids don't understand cancer patients' pain, so it was important for me to make it clear that (they) can be hurtful," Peled said.

When she was three years old, Peled's parents noticed a large mark on her bottom. "The next day, we got up early and went to Tel Hashomer, where they did a bone marrow exam," she remembers.

The results came in that evening – Shira was suffering from a type of leukemia called APL, a diagnosis that would have been fatal two years earlier. However, a new medicine had recently been discovered.

In her book, Peled writes about how the chemotherapy treatments weakened her body, raised her temperature and made it hard for her to eat and breathe.

"I didn't eat anything for almost five days straight," she says. When she finally did feel hungry, the first thing she asked for was "pastrami and a pickle."

Peled's book also describes the pain of losing her hair, which prior to her disease hadn't ever been cut. Her long blonde locks were replaced by a "cute pink hat." But within a year, her hair started growing back and when she started first grade she already had a ponytail.

"The treatments took six months and that's it, I was saved. I went back to kindergarten and I'd sit in the doll corner – I was the doctor and they were the patients," she says.

"Today, I'm almost 12, a happy girl. I didn't let the disease affect me. So what if I was sick? It doesn't mean I'm defective. I'm different from you. I'm special."

Peled's book won a great deal of attention during Hebrew Book Week's primary school reading campaign, including a prize in the "Especially Exciting" category.

Haya Shitai, director of the Education Ministry's Tel Aviv District, praised Peled at the prize ceremony. "It's important that as many children as possible read this book – some will find strength to deal with a disease or other difficulties, and others will understand how important friendship is and how important it is to support a sick friend," she told the young author.

Peled's book will be distributed at hospitals throughout Israel.