I had the honor of collaborating with Kylie's grandpa, Tim Truax, to create a book that shares the journey of a perfect, sweet little girl and her battle with cancer. The name of the book is Kylie Rose Kickin' Cancer. It is available for purchase on Amazon.
The book details her journey as Kylie fought her way through months of cancer treatment. The Jacobs (Eric, Carrie, Kylie, Emmie, Blake) are a family I've known for years. They handled this situation so gracefully, and I would have expected that from them. What was amazing to me was how open and willing they were to share the story with the world! They blogged about Kylie, shared pictures and images and let us peek into the daily struggles of cancer so we could better understand what was happening to Kylie. It made a tremendous impact on the community and they have now found a mission in helping other families. Carrie explained at the race that some people will experience cancer and need a network of help to pull through the tough times. She recognized that she is so uplifted and grateful for the help they received and wants other families that might need help to get it. Through the book, the 5K (Kylie Rose's Run), and spreading the word in the Caring Bridge Blog, the Jacobs are making a difference. Thousands have heard about Kylie and become followers of her journey.
Carrie rounded up a few digital photo albums for me to select images from when Tim and I designed the book. Fortunately he had already penned the poem, so while we dug into the material we had fun deciding where pictures would go and why they would need to change. It started with a few painted flowers and watercolor pencils. I knew I would do a lot of painting and we'd need over 25 images to complete the book. I have always wanted to illustrate a book and Kylie was the perfect little subject. I wanted to give her pictures the sweet, soft glow I feel like Kylie is surrounded by every day. So while some images came to life and did the job, some also didn't make the cut. I would need to remind myself...it's a process.
One thing that creating this book did for me personally was to allow quiet time for me to pray for Kylie. I often tell people in class that art is soothing and calming, which it is. However, art can also be extremely emotional. While painting her little x-ray I would be reminded that this little girl actually had the x-ray. Actually had a port. Was going through chemotherapy. This was a real situation with a darling little girl and a family basically moved into a hospital for months. The art became very emotional at that point, as I studied her face in each picture.
I encourage anyone to purchase this book because it will help children understand what happens during cancer treatment. Further, it explores some of the difficulties cancer can cause that can be better explained as a journey. Losing hair, feeling tired from doctor visits, staying focused with a large amount of people studying you. And while we hope one day there is a cure, for now the reality is that we'll likely know someone with some form of cancer at some point. If this book can help educate other people and share Kylie's story with the world, we would be doing the Jacobs family and Kylie's fight a huge service.
While Kylie is now CANCER FREE and returning to normal life, the battle still continues for many other kids. Tim set up a list of the hospitals across the country where these books have been shipped and will be shipped in the future. A portion of the purchase will be donated to pediatric cancer organizations and used to purchase copies for the network of Children's Hospitals Tim has identified.