Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Tim Burns, Milwaukee Third Grader Writes Book About Friend With Brain Cancer, Overcoming Long-term Affects Of Childhood Adversity

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In her forthcoming book, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris writes about what she discovered when she decided to take her hunch about the connection between childhood stress and future ill health to a research level. We talk to Dr. Harris about what she’s seen in her practice and what she’s found in her research. We also interview Tim Burns, one of three candidates for Supreme Court of Wisconsin, and we talk to one third grader about her new 36-page book called “My Friend Linkin”.

Featured in this Show

  • Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Interview: Tim Burns

    Three candidates are competing for Wisconsin’s open Supreme Court seat, and will face off in a primary election on February 20th to narrow the field to two. Madison-based attorney Tim Burns is one of those candidates, and joins us to talk about his candidacy, experience, and vision for the position.

  • New Berlin Third-Grader Writes Book About Friend's Cancer

    Linkin Eger is 7 years old.

    He has brown hair and glasses. His favorite color is red.

    He also happens to have brain cancer, and he’s been battling it off-and-on since he was 2 years old.

    “It’s like, it hurts, and it’s sick,” Linkin recently said of his treatments. “I get headaches and tummy aches.”

    Linkin’s friend, Naudia Greenawalt, is 8. They met years ago at school, and used to take taekwondo classes together.

    Last year, Naudia decided she wanted to help Linkin and raise money for his medical bills.

    Some 8-year-olds would run a lemonade stand to raise money, or sell cookies. Naudia wrote a book.

    “My Friend Linkin” starts at the beginning, when Linkin was first diagnosed with cancer. It’s told in a narrative form, from Naudia’s perspective, and was first published in November.

    As the book tells it, Linkin’s parents suspected something was wrong with his eye back in 2012. An MRI screening showed a cancerous tumor called Pilocytic astrocytoma in his brain. Pilocytic astrocytoma is a slow-growing, juvenile cancer that originates from star-shaped cells in the brain called astrocytes.

    Linkin had surgery to remove most of it, except for a section that was wrapped around an artery.

    But last December, five years after the surgery, the cancer came back. Linkin is now undergoing a year of chemotherapy treatment, which the book addresses matter-of-factly.

    “He doesn’t like chemo,” Naudia writes. “But it’s saving his life right now.”

    Before writing the book this summer, Naudia went with Linkin to a few treatments at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

    “I thought it was gonna be scary,” she said. “But it wasn’t.”

    My Friend Linkin” takes the reader through a typical day of chemotherapy treatment, from a kid’s perspective. There are photographs of Linkin’s medicine hidden in applesauce. Goofy selfies of Linkin and his family in the hospital.

    “My Friend Linkin” was published in November. Gretchen Brown/WPR

    The book explains chemotherapy is important because it kills cancer cells. Linkin has an appointment every single Monday, but sometimes, it can make Linkin sick.

    “When I’m not feeling good, I just hang out and chill,” Linkin said.

    On better days, Linkin and Naudia play tag and hide and seek. They’re goofy, and tease each other, make up songs and dance around.

    Naudia drew the cover art, too: a little boy with round glasses and spiky brown hair, smiling next to a little girl with blonde hair and bright pink pants.

    Naudia is adamant that writing this book doesn’t mean she’ll be an author again some day.

    “This is my only book,” she said.

    Linkin wants to be a scientist someday, making bubblegum chemo so you don’t have to take shots. But for now, he said, being the subject of a book is pretty cool.

    “I think it’s nice, and I like it,” he said. “(My friends) think it’s pretty cool and they think it’s nice.”

    He said kids who are being treated for cancer like he is shouldn’t be scared of the hospital.

    “It’s OK,” he said. “They’re just trying to help.”

    Naudia agreed.

    “They should always believe that they would be OK,” she said.

  • Third Grader Writes Book About Friend's Cancer

    “My Friend Linkin” tells the story of Linkin Eger, a 7-year-old West Allis boy who loves tomatoes, and taekwondo… and who also happens to have brain cancer. His 8-year-old friend Naudia Greenawalt wrote the 36-page book, and created the cover art, too. Linkin and Naudia joined us to talk about the book and what makes their friendship special.

  • Addressing The Effects Of Childhood Adversity

    Childhood experiences, both good and bad, can have a significant effect on a person’s future. While challenges can foster perseverance and deepen empathy in some, adverse childhood experiences – such as divorce in the family, neglect, or abuse – have been linked to chronic health conditions, risky health behaviors and low life potential. Join us for a conversation of the role of toxic stress in a child’s life and how to address the effects of childhood adversity.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Host
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Gretchen Brown Producer
  • Breann Schossow Producer
  • Tim Burns Guest
  • Linkin Eger Guest
  • Naudia Greenawalt Guest
  • Dr. Nadine Burke Harris Guest

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