CBeebies star Dr Ranj Singh has congratulated a brave mother from Burgess Hill for her pioneering books that teach children about kidney disease.
Anita Howell, whose husband Simon was diagnosed with renal failure in 2004, said she decided to write the books after searching in vain for a book to explain the illness to children.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer just before Christmas last year but was determined to make something positive out her difficulties.
Anita said: “Suddenly we had to explain to our daughter why Daddy, who used to pick her up with one arm, can’t pick her up at all.
“My daughter has never had friends over for a sleep-over. Whenever she asks whether we can do something, my answer always has to be: ‘let’s see what tomorrow brings’.
“It’s impossible to predict whether Simon will be having a good day where he’s full of energy or one where has to sleep for most of the day.”
At Burgess Hill Girls Junior School’s open day on Saturday, Dr Ranj was present to talk to parents and children about ways to stay healthy and happy.
Dr Ranj told Anita: “Often people turn difficult experiences into something positive. It’s a coping mechanism. “Books like this are a brilliant resource.
“It’s so good you’ve been able to turn tough experiences into something long-lasting. Well done.”
Anita self-published her three books with characters based on her own children, aged ten and four, and now hopes to secure a publishing deal.
She added: “We would love to do new books but we can’t afford to do it ourselves, especially now that Simon is no longer able to work.
“There are so many other conditions, like cystic fibrosis and diabetes, where children would benefit from a book of this type which explain the impact of serious illness on family life.
“One of the first things the surgeon did when I was diagnosed with breast cancer was to give me some books to explain the condition to my children.
“But kidney charities don’t have the funds to publish the books.”
Anita says her 10-year-old daughter wants to move on to Burgess Hill Girls from her primary school after the open day.
Burgess Hill Girls Head Heather Cavanagh says: “It was really inspirational to see Anita on Saturday and it was brilliant that Dr Ranj took the time to talk to her and discuss her books. We’d love to have her daughter at the school and we’re considering her bursary request.”
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