Hope & the Dragon

By John Sawkey / Webmaster

Most individuals have a dragon to fight. Each individual has his/her own dragon, whatever it may be. Matthew Epp and I share a common dragon - the fight with cancer. During the past few years as a member of the YFBTA, I have seen a few very important people succumb to a dragon.  Sadly, they are no longer with us.

As you can probably guess, I  find it difficult to sleep at night. My mind is often in turmoil, and try and I may - sleep just does not come. While this may not have much to do with birds and birding, I would like to share this experience with the hope that whatever your dragon, you too will receive some encouragement.

One day, while listening to CJME and John Gormley, I heard the interview with Matthew Epp who wrote this book when he as 11 years old.  Matthew is now  14  and lives in Fiske, Saskatchewan. Matthew was diagnosed with Wilm's Tumor, in October 1994, and underwent 16 months of chemotherapy as well as one week of radiation. He later had more chemotherapy and radiation.

Wilm's Tumor is a rare form of kidney cancer that affects children. Also known as nephroblastoma which is the most common form of kidney cancer in children.

Matthew has had this rare form of cancer most of his life, but now at 14 he's dealing with the ups and downs of dealing with a terminal relapse and publishing his book Hope and the Dragon, an inspiring story for children with cancer.

Today, Matthew is fighting the cancer relapse of his life as oncologists have chosen not to opt for further treatment.

What happens when an inspiring boy uses the four powerful values of Hope, Faith, Courage and Love to overcome adversity?

Arriving in April's Daffodil "cancer" month, Hope and the Dragon is finally providing young cancer patients with something they've never had: a powerful story written by one of their peers, offering the strength to beat the illness. "I wished I had a story to read like this when I was younger. It would have helped me relate to another person who has gone through cancer treatment and is actually talking about it. "It is nice to be able to relate yourself to another person," says Epp.

The story tells how a boy undergoing surgery to remove a tumor dreams of a magical land. While a dragon becomes the metaphor for cancer, the boy receives special powers to slay the demon: Hope, Faith, Courage and Love.

I managed to obtain a copy of this book at Chapters in Regina  and noted that Chapters  ordered 50 copies of the books for others who were  on their waiting list.

I was greatly moved by this book - and shared the same feelings as Matthew. Whatever the demon, the best way of dealing with it is with Hope, Faith, Courage and Love. I will always cherish this book as long as I live. It has given me courage to fight the same demon as Matthew.

Hope and the Dragon is published with Aaspirations Publishing Inc. a small book publisher in Toronto specializing in children's books. It can be obtained at most book stores.


This book is printed on glossy paper with excellent color illustrations by Maris Chisholm. Part of the proceeds from the sale of Hope and the Dragon  will go to the Childhood Cancer Foundation - Candlelighters Canada the only national organization dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer, helping fund research into childhood cancers at all 17 hospitals and trauma centres across Canada.

For more information on Matthew Epp please visit:

Children's Health and Hospital Foundation in Saskatchewan