Wings of Courage

Leah’s heart is always happy. But having a brain tumor has also taught Leah to be strong and brave. She knows what it’s like to need lots of courage. So when her butterfly at school seems afraid to fly away, she shares the story of how she finds courage when she is scared. It’s just what her butterfly needs to spread its wings and take flight for the journey ahead.

Based on the courageous life of Leah Elisabeth James, “Wings of Courage” is dedicated to all children fighting cancer.  Leah’s cheerful presence and beaming smile radiated to those around her.  Although this book is fiction and not exactly Leah’s story, it is inspired by her kind spirit, love for books, and attraction to bold beautiful colors.  Even during treatment for her brain tumor, Leah had a unique way of expressing her joy by saying, “My heart is happy.” 

“Wings of Courage” was created by the University of Michigan Department of Neurosurgery and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital to help all pediatric cancer patients to remain hopeful, and that they, like Leah, will have a happy heart while reading this wonderful story.

Order your copy of “Wings of Courage.”

Praise for Wings of Courage

“I am motivated by the life and courage of Leah and by the beauty of her happy heart. I am reminded to enjoy, laugh, and cry each day as Leah taught us. As a four-time brain cancer patient beginning at age 3, I don’t know who I would be without cancer, but I love who I am with it.”
- Max Merget, Student, Grand Valley State University

“As a neurosurgeon, I have always been amazed by the strength, and yes — the courage — of young patients with cancer. They will inspire you, and they will teach you the grace that we all need, but too often forget. As a dad of three girls, I am far more sentimental than I used to be, and the tears come more easily, as they did while reading this beautiful book. We hope and pray our own children never go through what Leah did, but we also hope they can have the courage Leah does, if it ever happens.”
- Sanjay Gupta M.D., Chief Medical Correspondent, CNN

“The innocence and honesty of children is only matched by their resilience and ability to thrive even under the most adverse of circumstances. Having spent some 25 years caring for children with brain tumors, Wings of Courage will help children, parents, family members, and caregivers have a meaningful dialogue about how to support a child who is battling a serious illness. It will confirm the amazing optimism within children and inspire hope for tomorrow.”
- Karin Muraszko, MD, Julian T. Hoff Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosurgery

“Wings of Courage” was made possible through a generous donation from Leah’s Happy Hearts

Written by Sue Beth Balash and illustrated by Ellen Nelson.