Gaylon Hayden, The President and Founder of Book For Hope®, Shares Her “Why.”

July 3, 2023

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Christmas Eve, 2007, at 4:10 PM. I began to go to Dr. Ingrid A. Meyer, the Director of Breast Cancer at Vanderbilt. Every visit, Dr. Meyer would share a childhood cancer statistic with me. I had no idea until she told me breast cancer was an adult cancer, not childhood cancer. Also, she told me when children get cancer, their treatment is ten times more aggressive than adult cancer treatment. I was not looking for childhood cancer statistics, but I believe there was a purpose for her to share these facts with me.

When surgeries, radiation, and treatment were over for me, I wanted to do something to help families hope they could celebrate Christmas and holidays with their children like I was allowed to do every year. So I penned a book using words a child could understand and titled it, “ It’s Christmas Again.” Roy Smith, the art teacher at Lone Oak Elementary, illustrated the book, and we gave up the right to receive royalty money for the sale of the book.

Some friends and I met with a local attorney, and he had the Articles of Incorporation completed for educational, religious, and charitable purposes. In three days, Book for Hope® was approved by the Secretary of our State to become a 501 (c) (3). So Book for Hope® became a nonprofit in January 2015. Our board of Directors and Officers are all unpaid. Also, we do not have office rent, utilities, or internet/phone bills.

I thought the only place a child could receive cancer treatment was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I was shocked when people came to book signings and would tell me where their child would get treated for cancer, and it was all over the country. After seeing a local family with a child in St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital lose their home, we knew we needed to give to childhood cancer research and financially assist families with a child on cancer treatment.

Since January 2017, we have helped 53 families and given over $150,000.00 to childhood cancer research. The organization has become about the families and not about the book. The publisher of the book has gone bankrupt.

My husband and I began to go everywhere we could to tour Children’s Hospitals. We would take a board member with us, too. We have been invited to go to conferences where pediatric oncologists would speak and were able to learn more about childhood cancer. The one thing that has stood out is childhood cancer is rising while adult cancer is declining, with children only receiving 4% of cancer research funding from the Federal Government and adults receiving 96% of cancer research funding. This seems to make sense why childhood cancer is on the rise. Children are forced to take outdated and harsh adult treatments for cancer. There are only six FDA-approved treatments for childhood cancer. Cancer is the number one disease-related cause of death in children.

The book It’s Christmas Again may be out of print, but I am more passionate than ever to make a difference in families with a child in cancer treatment. Also, I long for the day to see a cure for all cancer.

Book for Hope® can exist because donors and people believe in our organization. When people talk about going to your local Children’s Hospital, we are in an area with no hospital to treat childhood cancer, and travel has become a way of life for our families. In addition, bills at home keep coming in every month, such as rent/house payments, utility bills, cell phone and internet payments, vehicle repairs, and payments. Book for Hope® has an application on When a pediatric oncology social worker completes and sends it back to our organization, we overnight a $150.00 pre-loaded Visa card, a $100.00 fuel card, and a $100.00 restaurant card. The following month the family can submit a bill to our organization for payment to the vendor. Also, we have kind ladies who keep us stocked in character wigs and hats for bald heads, blankets, and other items.

If you are looking for somewhere to invest your money, please consider helping your neighbor here in Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois. In addition, when you give to Book for Hope, Inc., you join forces to help with childhood cancer research. We can do more together than on our own. Book for Hope® will be able to give you a Charitable Gift Receipt for tax purposes. I promise you haven’t seen a fight with cancer until you watch a child fight the beast!

Just Imagine® A Cure