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Inspirational children’s book garners praise from BMA leader

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Kelsey Barbour was just 18 months old when her dad Gordon was diagnosed with of a little-known form of bone marrow cancer called Myeloma.

In the years that followed, one of the hardest things for mum Catriona was trying to explain his illness to her small daughter.

Mrs Barbour, of Inverness, said: “When Gordon was diagnosed, there was just no literature available and as the disease progressed we had to rely on information available about other cancers to explain to Kelsey what was happening.”

Sadly, Gordon died when Kelsey was just seven but his death inspired the family to embark on a massive fundraising drive raising more than £13,000 for charity Myeloma UK.

The charity used this money to produce Kelsey and the Yellow Kite, a story about a little girl called Kelsey whose dad gets myeloma.

Judges at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) patient information awards have now highly commended the inspiring story of how the book came about and praised the illustrations for bringing the story to life and introducing humour to a difficult subject.

Mrs Barbour said: “Kelsey would have found a book for children very helpful in understanding more about myeloma but there was absolutely nothing available.

“We are over the moon with the book. We wanted something simple and straight to the point.”

Last month, the family attended the awards at BMA House, in London, where Kelsey, now 14, met President of the BMA Sir Al Aynsley-Green, who praised her hard work and involvement in creating the book.

Speaking about attending the awards, Mrs Barbour said: “It was just incredible. Sir Al Aynsley-Green said he thought the book was fantastic.

“He talked to Kelsey about how his father had died when he was ten and how that had inspired him to become a doctor.

“Kelsey told him how she wants to go into medicine and become a haematologist.”

Kelsey, an S3 pupil at Millburn Academy in Inverness, added: “I am really proud of the book.

“I never thought it would get the recognition that it has.

“It doesn’t have a happy ending but I think it really helps children to be able to understand that not all stories do have a happy ending.”

Myeloma UK, the only organisation in the UK dealing exclusively with Myeloma, also praised the family’s efforts.

Sue Perkins, the charity’s service development manager said: “We’ve been inspired by the Barbour family who have created something positive from a very difficult situation.

“By giving the book highly commended status, the BMA is recognising how valuable this resource is to other families affected by myeloma.”

Myeloma is a cancer caused by abnormal cells in the bone marrow and nearly 4,000 cases are diagnosed in the UK every year.

More information about myeloma can be found at the charity’s website, www.myeloma.org.uk

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