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Supporting teenagers through family cancer & bereavement

318. Emma Sutherland
319. Jamie McIntosh

Two secondary school pupils have written books for teenagers about coping with the impact of relatives’ cancer diagnoses.

Emma Sutherland, age 15, and Jamie McIntosh, age 16, from Edinburgh both wrote books telling the stories of their mothers’ cancer diagnoses. So far, Emma’s book, Eek! My Mummy Has Breast Cancer, has sold 1,800 copies and is available in Maggie’s Centres, schools, and libraries in Scotland. Jamie’s book, My Mum Monica, has sold 500 copies, raising £2,000 for the charity Fight Against Cancer Edinburgh.

When Emma’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she didn’t know what to think or feel and was afraid to ask too many questions. When she looked for information in books, she found that many were too ‘young’ to be of any help or too ‘adult’ to be relatable. Emma started writing about the feelings surrounding her mother’s cancer battle as a way to cope. She decided to turn her notes into the book Eek! My Mummy Has Breast Cancer. Emma hopes that her book will help teens who are in the same situation to get the information they need. Emma’s commitment to volunteering didn’t stop there. She now serves as a Young Ambassador to the charity “It’s Good 2 Give”, raising funds to build a retreat for cancer patients and their families.

Every year, the charity Fight Against Cancer Edinburgh sponsors a trip to Lapland for the children of cancer patients. Jamie met Emma on this trip, and was inspired to pen his own book, My Mum Monica. Jamie’s mother had recently lost her 17 year battle with cancer. Jamie wanted to tell the story of her inspirational life, as well as help boys like him and other children cope with the emotional rollercoaster of cancer and bereavement.

Emma and Jamie’s books can be found in Maggie’s Centres, high schools, homes, and libraries. Emma also donates books to individual teens in need, and Jamie donates his profits to the charity Fight Against Cancer Edinburgh.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Emma and Jamie are both incredible young people who have selflessly used their own experiences of seeing a family member fight cancer to help other people facing similar challenges.  Helping people their age to understand and deal with their feelings when a loved one is ill or sadly passes away is an incredibly difficult task which they have both faced bravely and honestly.  They should both be immensely proud of what they have created and I am delighted to be able to recognise their hard work by making them both Points of Light.”

Emma said: “I am overjoyed and feel that this is one step closer to leaving the world in a better state than I found it!”

Jamie said: “I’m really honoured to be awarded the Prime Minister’s Point of Light award. This award is dedicated for my Mum who has helped me so much in my life to grow up to be someone capable of writing a book and have the courage to keep going when losing someone close. Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the past 18 months from family to friends and everyone who has liked my Facebook page and bought my book so far. I can’t thank you enough, and it’s just great to be able to say I’m one of the hundreds of inspiring winners of this fantastic award.”

MP for Edinburgh South Ian Murray (Emma’s MP) said:

“I would like to congratulate Emma on her outstanding achievement. Breast cancer is a terrible disease which affects thousands of women and families every day, and Emma showed immense courage in writing about her innermost thoughts, feelings and experiences dealing with her mother’s breast cancer. Her book has already helped other young people affected by breast cancer to come to terms with the shock to them and their families and I am sure it will continue to do so. It’s been hugely supported locally, she is a true inspiration and a credit to her family and community.”

MP for Edinburgh West Michelle Thomson (Jamie’s MP) said:

“I am absolutely delighted that Jamie McIntosh is being recognised for his moving contribution to the fight against cancer.

“Jamie’s book, which recounts his mother’s inspirational life, has not only raised £2,000 to help beat cancer but also supported children like himself in coping with the overwhelming and difficult emotions caused by cancer and bereavement.

“I believe it is right that we should recognise and celebrate the work of outstanding individuals like Jamie, who has helped so many in his community at such a young age.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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