LOVE, NILS navigating my son's cancer. A memoir by lesli berggren

LOVE, NILS written by Lesli Berggren


Love, Nils is the true story of a teenage boy battling cancer, and the tender love and bond of trust that grows between him and his American mother. It is a profoundly moving memoir with an important message of hope for all care givers struggling to find help where none seems available. Interwoven with the powerful narrative are parcels of advice for parents and young patients who find themselves responding to a devastating medical diagnosis. Over the three years it has taken Lesli to write this book she has gradually learned how to heal herself and now this has become a way for her to help others.

Nils and Lesli

Love, Nils charts the 18 months Lesli spent caring for her beloved son after his diagnosis. Nils, a twin, was just 13 when he fell ill. He was a gorgeous, athletic, livewire of a boy who came down with a cold that turned out to be Stage 4 cancer. He was treated first in Singapore and then the US, and he was cured of cancer—nothing short of a miracle. Tragically, however, the stem-cell transplant he received (an imperfect match) created complications that went on to claim his young life.

Nils and twin sister Claire

This is a book about love and the intimate connections forged in an often chaotic, impersonal world. It’s about the impact one sick boy can have on so many (including President Obama and Bear Grylls—truly!). It sings with the resilience of the human spirit, with the themes of hope and healing (both the physical and emotional kind) running throughout. And there is much humor here too—incredible, perhaps, given the appalling adversity faced by the book’s two protagonists. Frustration and rage are also recurrent themes, as Nils—bed-bound and coming-of-age—is pumped with personality-altering drugs and fights the confinement and pain he’s forced to endure. Yet even in his darkest hour, Nils is moved to reach out to children he perceives to be suffering more than him.

In her pull-no-punches style, Lesli offers guidance for others navigating complex, often befuddling medical systems. She highlights the holes in both systems (particularly where the psychological welfare of the patient is concerned) and offers practical tips on how to plug these holes, both by tapping into outside therapists and by learning to access the powerful reserve of strength that lies within us all.

Nils, Lesli and Claire

Lesli’s aim in writing Love, Nils is to help patients and their care givers to better manage the pain, fear and emotional fallout of long-term illness. It is aimed at medical personnel, alternative therapists, parents, siblings and teachers—anyone, in fact, keen to take a holistic approach to the suffering of sick children. It is Lesli’s deepest hope that young patients and their parents will reach for this book to better understand the journey they are on, and to discover new ways to keep themselves and their friendships strong.

Last but not least, Love, Nils is a story about mending a broken heart after the death of a beloved child. For families who have lost a child to illness, the book aims to extend a ray of understanding and hope during a time of unfathomable darkness.

About Lesli Berggren

From the moment her 13-year-old son got sick, Lesli Berggren began taking notes. She knew she could best take care of Nils if she kept herself organized and on top of his treatment. For the next year and a half, she stayed by his side: in hospitals in both Asia and the USA, through the highs and lows of drugs and therapy, and days both incredibly difficult and utterly joyful.

Thanks to her extensive experience, she is now well versed in patient advocacy, in hospital culture in different countries, in grieving programs, and how to find help when none seems available. This knowledge forms the basis for her book, a book only she could write. Now readers can benefit from her familiarity, wisdom, and heartfelt voice as Lesli relates the experiences she and her son shared during his illness, and how she learned to move forward after his death.

Lesli is a resilient survivor, a keen listener, and a loving soul. She has helped the Children's Cancer Foundation, National Kidney Foundation and The Red Pencil art program in Singapore on therapies to help with the mental wellness of their pediatric patients in hospitals. She worked at the VIVA Foundation for Children with Cancer in Singapore. She creates fundraising events for GvHD awareness. She holds toy drives for the National University Hospital Singapore children's cancer ward. She founded LOVE, NILS non profit to support children with cancer and their families.

Lesli is by nature an independent, creative person who has worked in PR, founded her own graphic design company and designed her own bespoke jewellery line. A native Texan, she has been living in Singapore for 20 years and is the mother of a beautiful daughter.

Notes from Nils’ Supporters

Dear Nils,

The First Lady and I recently learned about the challenges you are facing, and we want you to know how much we admire your courage and strength at this difficult time.

As you continue your brave battle, I hope the support of your family and friends brings you peace and comfort each day. Please know the First Lady and I will keep you and your loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely, Barack Obama


What a champion of a man you are. I think if I have one gift in my life, I do recognize great people and you my friend are one of them. Your eyes sparkle, you have got that champion spirit. And I for one am full of admiration for you. You are amazing; you are in my prayers and in my thoughts. Keep strong, keep smiling.

Bear Grylls (Man Vs. Wild, Discovery Channel)

Childhood cancer is a different ballgame. It not only affects the child's family but the whole school, the entire neighborhood. In this real life story, Nils’ mom has tried to highlight the struggles of a family who has access to the best healthcare systems in the world. The doctors 'Assessment and Plans' only deal with medical problems that the patients face. The story also highlights how the emotions after the loss of a near and dear one can be channeled in a positive way to impact the care of the future generation of patients – Love, Nils is a movement that can inspire the world.

Dr Chetan Anil Dhamne: MBBS, MS Molecular Medicine, MD Paediatrics, MD Paediatric Oncology, Associate Consultant, Division of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology National University Hospital Singapore


Please email Lesli Berggren for more information



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Lesli Berggren


Lesli Berggren

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