Author, illustrator and Matthew with book copies.Every Smile Book starts with a referral. Every referral tells the story of an inspiring child going through something they shouldn’t have to go through. Before even reading these, we know we’re about to meet a new hero. When Betsy sent in a referral for her son, Matthew, I knew we were about to start a new project that would touch the lives of so many people, including mine. Betsy wrote:

“Matthew was diagnosed with leukemia last summer. He has had many complications through his treatment, and he still has two and a half years of treatments left. The other day, Matthew told me he wanted to write a book. Although he wasn’t sure if he had the energy to write a book. I asked him what his book would be about, and he said a book to help other kids in the hospital. ‘I can give them advice and tips to make cancer less scary, because it isn’t fun.’ I saw the Smile Books Project on Facebook a few days after Matthew mentioned his idea, so I thought I would refer my Matthew. I hope this can work out for Matthew. Thank you!” – Betsy.

From one writer to another, I wanted to help Matthew accomplish this goal, even if he didn’t have the energy to write it himself. My Cancer Life mixes actual excerpts from the book Matthew began writing with the story he shared during our interview with him.

Sarah, Bob and Matthew speaking to schools.After the book was printed, Matthew set a goal to sell 1,000 copies. We were invited to three schools in his district to talk about My Cancer Life and Smile Books Project. At Matthew’s school, we were able to surprise him with the announcement that he met his goal and over 1,000 copies of his book are out in the world. Reporters have written stories about this and the story has gained world-wide attention. We are grateful for the support and love seeing how far this book has already gone. It is in Cincinnati Children’s, Dayton Children’s, St. Jude and homes and schools across the country.

We hope that the tips and advice in this book help make the journey for others either going through cancer or who know someone going through cancer a little easier to navigate. Thank you for supporting Matthew and Smile Books Project!


Sarah Curry Rathel

Mighty Matthew’s Cancer Life