Doll Helps Kids Cope With Mother's Breast Cancer

A new doll mimics the changes in appearance that come with chemo treatments.

ByABC News
February 18, 2009, 2:49 PM

Oct. 17, 2007 — -- For many women, losing their hair during cancer therapy is difficult enough. But the situation can be even harder for children who are shocked to see their mothers or female relatives lose their hair.

Now, a new doll tries to help kids understand the changes in appearance that come with chemotherapy.

The doll, called Kimmie Cares, was created by Kim Goebel while she was undergoing chemotherapy therapy for breast cancer. Goebel passed away in 2004, and her sister, Kris, now serves as the president of the Partners for a Cure Foundation, Inc.

Proceeds from the sale of the doll go to the foundation, which helps women undergoing cancer treatments with immediate financial assistance for child-care services or transportation during medical appointments.

The Kimmie Cares doll comes in five different ethnicities and includes a book, titled "Mommy and Me Taking Care of Each Other." The book tells children that their mommies may become sick and look different, but that they still love them no matter what.

The book is published in English and Spanish versions, and additional languages are being printed, according to the company.

Cancer experts agree that a mother's physical changes can be difficult for little ones to understand.

"The most noticeable change in a woman's appearance is hair loss," said Lillie Shockney, a registered nurse and administrative director of the Breast Center at the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center. "In our society, hair loss often symbolizes having cancer."

And that symbol can scare children, who tend to focus on routine and may become anxious when a stable routine changes, as it would when a parent becomes seriously ill.

In addition to the new dolls, there are other ways women can help young ones cope with the changes that come with treatment.

Shockney suggests that women with breast cancer have a "coming out" party for their hair.

"Youngsters can engage with it, and make a funny hat for their mom," she said. "It's something to help them understand what is going on."