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books for teenagers


explaining types of cancer

What's up with Lyndon? Explaining Osteosarcoma Medikidz

What's up with Lyndon? Medikidz Explain Osteosarcoma, Medikidz

Childhood osteosarcoma, a cancer of the bone, is explained in graphic novel format in this informative story that makes the science behind cancer accessible to young readers. The Medikidz are a group of larger-than-life superheroes who live in Mediland, a living, moving virtual world within the human body. Each character is an expert on one component of human anatomy and the role it plays in fighting the disease: Axon is a brain specialist, Pump has the lowdown on the heart and blood vessels, and Skinderella knows all about the skin and bones. Appropriate humour and adventure offset facts about osteosarcoma, its treatment, and recovery, so young readers can understand Lyndon’s illness and become aware of the support and loving care that he needs.



Medikidz explain childhood cancer, Medikidz

The comic book Medikidz explain childhood cancer is based on the real life story of Alex La Rossa, aged 17 from Sydney who was diagnosed with cancer at 13. 


The book was reviewed by Oncology Specialist Dr Luciano Dalla-Pozza Head of The Cancer Centre and Staff Specialist at the Children’s Hospital, Westmead and supported by the Paul Newman Foundation.

What's up with Rachel? Medikidz explains brain tumours

What's up with Rachel? Medikidz Explain Brain Tumours, Medikidz

Rachel is usually the star of her baseball team, so when the symptoms of her brain tumour start to put her off her game she quickly needs an explanation in order to help her understand what is going on. Luckily the Medikidz come to the rescue! Pump, Gastro, Chi, Skinderella and Axon, the group of superheroes with unique individual powers, teleport Rachel to Mediland (a planet shaped like a human body) for her own personalised tour. Rachel goes inside the brain to learn all about the roles of neurons and glial cells, and to see exactly how brain tumours are caused when these cells start behaving badly.




What's up with Richard? Medikids explains Leukaemia

What's up with Richard? Medikidz Explain Leukaemia, Medikidz

Richard is a budding young actor with heaps of talent and a good, strong voice, but his leukaemia makes him tired and frustrated, and is preventing him from rehearsing properly... Luckily the Medikidz, a dedicated group of super-powered action-heroes with attitude, are on hand to help Richard get to grips with what's going on! Pump, Chi, Skinderella, Gastro, Axon and their trusty robot Abacus help Richard fully understand the medical facts behind leukaemia and what causes it - when they have stopped fighting over who has stolen the chocolate chips out of the ice cream, that is! These unique superheroes bring expert medical knowledge on the blood stream, blood cells and the bone marrow, and lead Richard on an intricate tour around Mediland (a distant planet shaped just like the human body!). 


cancer stories from young people

The Bald Headed Princess Ditmars

The Bald Headed Princess: Cancer, Chemo & Courage, Maribeth Ditmars

What is a girl with cancer to do? Will her friends still want to hang out with her now that she has cancer? Can she play soccer? How will she deal with being out of school? How will she manage homework from home and the hospital? Can she please get back to a normal life? A life with hair and without chemo? Discover with Isabel that having cancer doesn't have to change who she is (a budding teenager and an awesome soccer princess). Her strength and courage, and fabulous sense of humour, helps carry her though it all. A tip-sheet for coping with cancer follows the story.


Cancer Vixen: A True Story, Marisa Acocella Marchetto

What happens when a shoe-crazy, lipstick-obsessed, wine-swilling, pasta-slurping, fashion-fanatic, single-forever, about-to-get-married big-city girl cartoonist with a fabulous life finds . . .a lump in her breast? That’s the question that sets this powerful, funny, and poignant graphic memoir in motion. In vivid colour and with a taboo-breaking sense of humour, Marisa Acocella Marchetto tells the story of her eleven-month, ultimately triumphant bout with breast cancer—from diagnosis to cure, and every challenging step in between. But Cancer Vixen is about more than surviving an illness. It is a portrait of one woman’s supercharged life in Manhattan, and a wonderful love story. 

Not Now I'm Having a No Hair Day Clifford


Not Now I’m Having a No Hair Day: Humor and Healing for People with Cancer, Christine Clifford

Straightforward and honest, 'Not Now, I'm Having a No Hair Day' paints a realistic picture of what it was like for Christine Clifford to discover breast cancer, undergo surgery, and endure months of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Her moments of fear, frustration, embarrassment, love, and joy are captured playfully in 60 cartoons. Cancer patients and their families will readily enjoy a humorous look at a serious subject.

My so-called normal life Zammett


My So Called Normal Life, Erin Zammett

A compellingly inspirational memoir of a young woman confronting the battle of her life with hope, humor, and style.


Book Club: A funny thing happened on the way to Chemo

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to Chemo, Luke Ryan

This is a warm-hearted and hilarious memoir from someone who has laughed in the face of more adversity than most of us would face in a lifetime. Luke’s life is a life marked by cancer, not defined by it. These are stories of growing up, getting sick, getting better, getting sick again, dating while bald, and living life to the full. The contrast between his experience as an innocent 11-year-old with cancer to his reflections on being shattered by a second diagnosis at 22 is stark and beautifully drawn, highlighting the immense pressure serious illness puts on families and the profound effect it has on one’s sense of identity. His unique story is one of strength, hope, luck and love, made all the more poignant by his disarmingly dry sense of humour. 

fiction books on cancer


Two Weeks with the Queen, Morris Gleitzman

'I need to see the Queen about my sick brother.' Colin Mudford is on a quest. His brother Luke has cancer and the doctors in Australia don't seem to be able to cure him. Sent to London to stay with relatives, Colin is desperate to do something to help Luke. He wants to find the best the doctor in the world. Where better to start than by going to the top? Colin is determined to ask the Queen for her advice. In Morris Gleitzman's trademark style, this very moving story illuminates deeply serious issues about illness and loss with bright moments of humour.



Keep Your Hair On, Elizabeth Vercoe

This is a beautifully crafted story which delves into the issues associated with cancer. As Jess goes through her journey of growing up, we watch her deal with the additional trials and tribulations of chemotherapy, constantly feeling sick and losing her hair, not to mention trying to deal with the fact that people treat her differently after learning she is suffering from cancer, including her best friends. We watch Jess struggle with the decision of whether or not to tell people about her illness, particularly Dylan. How will he react once he finds out Jess has cancer? 

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, Jordan Sonnenblick

Thirteen-year-old Steven has a totally normal life: he plays drums in the All-Star Jazz band, has a crush on the hottest girl in the school, and is constantly annoyed by his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey. But when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, Steven's world is turned upside down. He is forced to deal with his brother's illness and his parents' attempts to keep the family in one piece. Salted with humour and peppered with devastating realities, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie is a heartwarming journey through a year in the life of a family in crisis.
Book Club - After Ever After

After Ever After, Jordan Sonnenblick

This is a sequel to 'Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie.' Jeffrey isn't a little boy with cancer anymore. He's a teen who's in remission, but life still feels fragile. The aftereffects of treatment have left Jeffrey with an inability to be a great student or to walk without limping. His parents still worry about him. His older brother, Steven, lost it and took off to Africa to be in a drumming circle and "find himself." Jeffrey has a little soul searching to do, too, which begins with his escalating anger at Steven, an old friend who is keeping something secret, and a girl who is way out of his league but who thinks he's cute. 


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We’ve chosen a wide range of books to cover as many different themes, situations, beliefs and stories as possible. The opinions, recommendations and stories expressed are those of the authors only. They don’t necessarily represent the views of Redkite.


While a great deal of the information in Book Club books is helpful, none of it replaces the information given to you by your hospital. If you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with your treating hospital team. 


These books come from a number of different countries and don’t always reflect the medical practices in Australia.

Last updated March 2020