‘A Story of Love and Strength’

Bannon with her family. Photo courtesy of Crystal Bannon

By Matthew Sotlar / The Jambar

A Youngstown State University professor has written a children’s book discussing cancer among families with younger children.

Crystal Bannon, YSU’s assistant director of Career Exploration and Development, released “Caring Through Cancer: A Story of Love and Strength” on Amazon on March 26.

Bannon had breast cancer and entered remission in 2021. She said she wanted the book to be a resource for families.

“I got diagnosed in October of 2020, and I did all of my treatment — chemo, surgery and radiation — all in 2021. As I was sitting at these doctor’s appointments going through my healing and my recovery, I decided I wanted to create a resource for parents and children,” Bannon said.

Bannon said she compiled most of her material during treatments in her spare time.

“I basically had a Google Doc on my phone, and I started creating a manuscript,” Bannon said. “Every time I had a little bit of time, I would just add more ideas and thoughts to it, ideas on what I wanted it to look like.”

“Caring Through Cancer” is meant to educate younger audiences who may not understand the concept of cancer. The book follows a boy named Maceo whose mother has cancer.

“It’s a basic children’s book,” Bannon said. “It’s 24 pages that really kind of tell the story of Maceo as he goes through learning about that his mom is sick with cancer and follows the journey of as she goes through that year of treatment and surgery and all that, and how in the end, through love, strength and support, we all got through that together.”

Photo by Matthew Solar / The Jambar

After noticing the lack of material about cancer for young children, Bannon was inspired to write the book.

“When I was originally going to tell [my son] about mommy being sick, I, of course, went to Amazon to look for books and options, and there wasn’t a lot out there. So, I started to do some research into [Kindle Direct Publishing] and how to publish a book on my own,” Bannon said.

Bannon said she has been working to promote sales of the book.

“I put it on my LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram,” Bannon said. “I also shared it with my classes that I teach on campus. This semester I’m teaching a Communications 1545 class, so we talked a little bit about it there. They were excited to see Professor Bannon doing this.”

Bannon is also working toward providing copies of her book to local organizations and groups working with families through cancer treatments.

“I do some volunteering with a local organization here called Pink Lights the Way. So, I’m going to provide them with some copies to be able to give to women that have recently been diagnosed that could use it as a resource for them and their families,” Bannon said.

Bannon said she is considering writing a second book in the future. She added that it would most likely be more adult-oriented.

“I actually have this fun idea about doing a short story for the actual patients. So, it would be adult content of kind of some short clips and funny things I went through as I was traveling through this journey,” Bannon said.