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Two area students use writing to help kids understand cancer

Posted at 6:57 AM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 07:57:48-05

Cancer is such a scary word, but two kids in our area are trying to help others understand it better.

Naudia Greenawalt and Linkin Eger have promising futures as authors – or maybe reporters?

“Maybe, maybe,” jokes Naudia. “We can’t tell you about our jobs. How about we edit that part out because we can’t have anyone learn about our jobs.”

All jokes aside, Naudia’s first project was a thought provoking biography called “My Friend Linkin.”

“I just wanted to know what he was feeling and thinking in that exact moment,” says Naudia.

You might say the project started before Naudia and Linkin had even met, when Linkin was two and diagnosed with a brain tumor.

His mom Kelly says the cancer relapsed when he was seven.

“So your world kind of gets turned upside down once more.”

But Kelly says treatments and long stays at the hospital were made easier this time around because Linkin had friends. That included classmate and tae kwon do partner Naudia – who wanted to raise money to help with Linkin’s treatments.

Her first idea was a lemonade stand.

“I thought bigger,” Naudia says.

“And she decided she wanted to write a book,” her mom, Dolores, says.

Dolores says she talked to Kelly about the idea first.

“You know, Linkin was 7 and she was 8 and I was kind of like, ‘uhhh, how is this going to work?’” Kelly says.

But Naudia prepared plenty of questions for Linkin – some that others might stray away from.

“It was like, really straight forward,” Linkin says.

“She was like, ‘are you afraid to die?’” recalls Kelly. “I don’t think any adult would ask that question, let alone… she was like, ‘are you afraid to die?’ And his was response was, ‘nope!’”

“He said, ‘I am afraid of spiders!’” adds Dolores with a laugh.

Naudia made a tough subject more approachable by describing cancer in words kids could understand.

“And it was amazing to have family members read the book after it was published and say, ‘wow, I didn’t realize how much you guys had gone through,’” says Kelly. “And that was the story [Naudia] told.”

But Naudia and Linkin weren’t done after the first book. They decided to write about other kids fighting cancer, too.

“We wanted to do that to show other kids what it’s like for a different point of view,” says Linkin.

And they wanted other kids to be the star of a book that was just about them.

“Not about their friends or their dog, just them!” says Naudia.

So the kids started a pay it forward method.

“So, Naudia wrote Linkin’s book, so Linkin went and wrote ‘My Friend Mackenzie,’” says Dolores. “And Mackenzie, with the help of her mom, wrote ‘My Friend Jordan,’ and it just kind of continues.”

The books have already raised a lot of money -- $27,000. On top of that, Naudia was named one of the “Top Ten Girls Changing the World” by People Magazine for her work on the book series.

But that might not be as important as what these stories mean to the kids that they’re about.

“It means that a friend is watching over you and making a huge impact on stuff that you’re doing,” says Linkin.

And these moms couldn’t be prouder.

“They’re building a bond with the person that the story is being written about,” says Dolores.

“And truly, those will last a lifetime,” Kelly adds. “Sadly we don’t know what that lifetime span is for some of these kids, so if we can just bring a smile to their face for that one special day that we’re together, then… success.”

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