Breast cancer book for children wins the 2006 Nathwani Prize

The Nathwani prize for an outstanding contribution to improving the relationship between science and the arts was announced today at the European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-5). Catherine Thornton was awarded the prize for her book 'Why Mum? A Small Child Dealing With a Big Problem', describing her breast cancer through the eyes of her seven year old son.

The Nathwani prize has been established to reward an individual who has 'made a difference' through an artistic or humanistic activity such as: music, photography, artwork, film, drama, dance, literature, or poetry. The EBCC-5 Committee awarded Catherine the prize in recognition of her courage and creativity when describing her family's experience in the book. The judges praised her motivation as a breast cancer survivor to make a difference and inspire others in the continuous fight against the disease.

Catherine Thornton, an Irish mum of three was diagnosed with breast cancer when her youngest son was seven. It was a difficult time for the whole family, especially for her youngest son who found the diagnosis and treatment difficult to comprehend. Catherine went to look for a book that could help the family talk about cancer but couldn't find one aimed at children.

After her treatment ended she wanted to write a book about her experiences written from her seven year old son's point of view, to help other families in the same situation. The book describes a mother who is going through the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and explains complicated scenarios in an easy to understand manner. The book is beautifully illustrated by one of Catherine's older sons to help children understand the different emotions they may feel.

Catherine Thornton comments, "I am overjoyed at winning this award. I really wanted to create something that would help other families in a similar situation to ours. I think it is important to use simple pictures and words to discuss honestly with children and help them come to terms with a cancer in the family. Children need to know what is happening and how they will be affected. Sometimes in the emotional turmoil following diagnosis this is easy to forget."


Notes: Why mum? A Small Child Dealing With a Big Problem by Catherine Thornton is published by Veritas Publications and costs €5.95. As well as being available in Veritas Bookshops, it can be ordered online from Veritas at and is also stocked by Easons.

The Nathwani award is made possible thanks to the generous donation of the Nathwani family.

All journalists attending EBCC-5 have been provided with a copy of 'Why Mum?' courtesy of GSK Oncology.

For further information please contact:
Stéphanie Makin, Tonic Life Communications, [email protected]

EBCC5 press office: Tuesday 21st March – Friday 24th March 2006
Tel: +33 4 93 92 84 02
Fax: +33 4 93 92 84 04

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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