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Shane Autumn’s book brings empowerment to kids facing cancer

Shane Autumn sitting with her niece, Ava

Be The Match® advocate Shane Autumn Nebbia is a professional at helping others find their voice and tell their story. But after the wordsmith saw her own niece, Ava, bravely face cancer for years, she turned inward to write a book about the girl to educate and empower other kids.

Connection to the mission

Shane first heard about Be The Match as a college student. However, she was no stranger to cancer: Her dad had cancer, and she also lost her grandma and boyfriend to it shortly after graduating college. She ended up doing a PR and events internship with the organization and has stayed in touch over the years. Most recently she hosted a registry drive in April to help find more blood stem cell donors and fight common myths about donating. 

“There’s always this myth that being a bone marrow donor is incredibly painful with a hard recovery time,” says Shane. She wants to spread awareness and education about donating so more people feel comfortable joining the Be The Match Registry®.

Her niece’s cancer journey

In addition to witnessing her father, grandmother and boyfriend fight cancer, Shane has now spent many years watching her niece, Ava, do the same thing. Ava, now 9, has been fighting bilateral Wilms tumor—a rare cancer affecting both kidneys—since before her first birthday. She has relapsed four times over the years, requiring aggressive chemotherapy and radiation. And two years ago, Shane spent a summer with Ava and her family to support and help them all.

The gift and power of words

Watching her niece’s bravery throughout her cancer journey inspired Shane to write “They Call Me Brave”—a children’s book that tells the true story of Ava’s experience, including the full range of joys and struggles throughout. “The book is my gift and tribute to Ava,” says Shane.

Shane hopes the book empowers other kids facing illness to feel confident, brave and accepted. And the lessons the book teaches can apply to their siblings, friends, classmates—or anyone with an open mind and heart.

“If the book can make one more kid feel less alone and isolated, that’s my mission,” says Shane.

The book has already been a success in elementary schools, and now Shane is working to bring them to hospitals and eventually translate the story into different languages.

If you’d like to pick up a copy of Shane’s book or share one as a gift, “They Call Me Brave” can be purchased online through her website. You can also help patients by exploring all the ways to support the Be The Match mission.

Ava (right) showcasing the book alongside her little sister, Meadow