When DaeQuan Morrison's mom, Patricia, was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago, he dealt with it the best way he knew how: He published a book.
At age 10, DaeQuan penned "What’s the Spook?," a 28-page storybook following a boy whose series of escalating nightmares lead him into the underworld. The book, which is based on DaeQuan's experience with chronic nightmares following his mother's cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy treatment, culminates with his realization that closeness to God is the only way to overcome his fears, he told the New York Daily News.
Patricia is now three years into her battle with breast cancer, and DaeQuan, now 13, has offered to donate the proceeds from his book -- currently selling for $18 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble -- to the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, N.Y.
Through a clinical trial, in which Patricia was asked to participate, researchers at Feinstein recently discovered a new DNA marker linked to triple-negative breast cancer that's helping doctors better understand why African-American women often experience this more aggressive form of the disease and find more effective ways to treat it.
"If you look under the microscope, triple negative breast cancer tumors in African-American women, in young women, in old women and in Caucasian women looks the same," Dr. Iuliana Shapira, one of the researchers conducting the trial, told The Huffington Post. "But if you look in the blood, the MicroRNA is much different in African-American people than in Caucasian women."
These findings have prompted Shapira and her team to reassess how women are treated for the disease. "We see that if we just change the order of the treatments, maybe give chemotherapy first in young women or African-American women, their outcome will be much better," she said.
But while the outlook for triple-negative breast cancer is more promising than it's been, the impact of a diagnosis and the treatment that follows can still be traumatic for a child, Shapira said.
"They usually imagine it much worse than it is and they dream about the worst," she said, stressing the importance for parents to inform their children about what the process is and what the treatments are. "It's very important that the parents reassure the child, tell them that they should have an optimistic view, especially about breast cancer. Breast cancer is curable disease in a majority of cases nowadays."
For DaeQuan, an only child whose parents both worked full-time through his mother's chemotherapy, coping was easiest through writing. "He's an extraordinary child, but his fears are the fears that other children experience," Shapira said.
He's sold over 200 copies since the books was published and hopes to eventually sell as many as 5,000, the Daily News reports.
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