By Alysha Conner
In hopes of providing insight to children on coping with cancer, author Ashley Banks decided to publish a book, titled “I Love You Forever,” which discusses the condition from a child’s perspective.
The 28-year-old published her book on March 31, through Johnson Publishing Company, a Black-owned publishing company located in Chicago, IL.
“The book is about the grieving process, and understanding that it looks different in every single person,” Banks said. “Once that is acknowledged and accepted, I explain how to learn and cope from there. It’s all based on mental health, and learning how to cope with your emotions.”
Throughout her youth, Banks struggled as she witnessed her mother battle breast cancer. Her experience of losing her mother to breast cancer at six-years-old that inspired Banks to create a book for children to cope with and understand cancer.
“I always knew that I had a story to share,” Banks said. “When I was growing up I felt like nobody understood what I was going through because everyone around me had their parents still.”
“The book that I wrote is a book that I wish I would have had when I was growing up. If I felt that way, I’m sure there is another little boy or girl out there right now that feels like nobody understands what they’re going through. So this book is something for them.”
A University of Alabama graduate and single mother, Banks began writing the 25-page children’s book in November 2018.
Collaborating with a couple of Metro Atlanta schools, Banks wants to make “I Love You Forever” accessible for faculty members to better assist children in need. She’s currently has a partnership with several Atlanta Public Elementary Schools.
Banks’ ultimate goal is to have her book for sale in Barnes and Noble stores and to host a book signing in one of the locations.
“I feel like with this book if I start lightly teaching kids about cancer, they’ll grow up understanding or being more inquisitive,” Banks said. “Along with it being an emotional tale, there are also certain scientific facts that I dropped in there, like what cancer is.”
“It explains the symptoms and side effects more so in layman’s terms so that they can understand. That way so when things are happening they’re not in full shock.”
Since releasing of her book Banks says that she has received a lot of positive feedback.
“People say it’s touching, inspiring, and that I am brave for telling my story,” Banks said. “With my experience being as emotionally traumatic as it was, people are thankful that I’m an advocate for others who were going through the same thing or someone who is now older but went through the same things I did.”
Prior to releasing the book, Banks established a holistic health company called Naturally Mary in September 2018. Through Naturally Mary, Banks uses plants, fruits, and vegetables to make her collection of natural homeopathic medicines; creating natural remedies to cure common ailments. The company carries an assortment of aromatherapy oil blends, chemical, and steroid free creams, health supplements, and more.
Banks says that she named her company Naturally Mary in remembrance of her mother passing from breast cancer. She hopes to expand into a storefront in the near future.
Currently, Banks is pursuing a career in oncology data analytics. She intends to publish her second children’s book this December. Similar to “I Love You Forever,” her second book will be about childhood cancer, but in the form of an “adventure.”
A paperback edition of “I Love You Forever” can be purchased via Amazon for $19.95. “I Love You Forever” will be available at Barnes and Noble at the end of May.
This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice.