By Contributing Writer Nicole O’Connell
University of Massachusetts graduate student Michaella Lesieur is celebrating the one-year anniversary of her book: Luna Lung Meets HES.
“This has been a book I have wanted to write ever since I could remember,” she says. And Lesieur did not just write it. She also illustrated the book and completed the layout for it.
A project like this certainly requires a lot of passion, and passion is something Lesieur has in droves.
Lesieur’s mother was diagnosed with the rare blood disease Hypereosinophilic Syndrome when Lesieur was five years old. Lesieur was motivated to do something about it and has been fighting since, even focusing her education on professional writing and communication.
Luna Lung Meets HES is one of the results from Lesieur’s efforts in raising awareness of HES. The book is in the format of a children’s book, but is accessible for any age. The story educates its audience on HES and encourages community action.
“The illness is so rare [the book] teaches many different lessons,” Lesieur says. “[The book} educates one on what the illness is, the importance of never giving up hope, and why we need to raise awareness for these rare diseases. A lot of people who are going through their own things can read between the pages and see there’s stuff that they can do out there to help and come together as a community to initiate change.”
Luna Lung Meets HES took two years with Lesieur working on the illustrations, drafting, re-drafting, and working on the layout.
“It was kind of a cycle,” she says. “You start in one area and end up in another area and end up back at square one again, but at the end it all comes into this beautiful work of art.”
The book is currently on sale on Blurb.com.
“It’s crazy to actually see this book up and published,” Lesieur says. “To see the sales go up in Blurb and see how many people have purchased the book and are interested in the story. There are even libraries that have the book in their database right now, which is incredible. Just to see how many people are inspired and want to follow along with the journey and create that change.”
Lesieur was recently interviewed on The New You Show, a local television show. There, she was able to share her book, and the cause, with an even bigger audience.
“The outcome is incredible,” she says. “It is very overwhelming, seeing how much it has grown and how many people have fallen in love with the pages and our story. I almost lost my mom and she is my best friend, so being able to share our story, and her still here, is a miracle.”
Lesieur’s writing career has not ended with Luna Lung Meets HES; she also has plans for more books.
“A lot of people have been wondering if there will be a sequel to the book, and they can rest assure that there will be more books after this. It doesn’t end here. This is just an intro, the story goes on,” she says. “I’d love to write an adult book more about the illness and fundraising and bring it to the next level.”
Lesieur’s fundraising efforts since 2013 have raised over $20,000 for the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders.
“The love, the passion, the dedication, that kind of just skyrocketed me to just reach for those stars, go after it,” she says. “The reward at the end of seeing the smiles and knowing that you made a difference is the most rewarding aspect. The littlest impact means the world.”