Cancer journey inspires children’s book

Alexia Stevens, 34, recently published her children’s book The Octopus Visits Doctor Puss.

A woman’s terminal cancer journey has inspired her to write a children’s book.

Alexia Stevens, 34, recently released her book titled The Octopus Visits Doctor Puss. It is a humorous story with a nervous Octopus named Alex who goes to Doctor Puss after contracting a missing tentacle.

Doctor Puss takes Alex on an adventure around the world in search of his tentacle.

The sights these two characters visited – Egypt, Greece, Australia – were drawn from Alexia’s own experiences.

Alexia’s parents, born in England, traveled around with their children.

“Mom and Dad have always wanted to travel,” Alexia says. “We ended up in Australia and in Brunei.”

This brought in her a love of travel. Alexia, who lives in Cockle Bay, studied interior design in London.

She would go into retail management, which was intertwined with interior design, as she would sell furniture and remodel houses and have a part-time modeling job at K&K Fashion.

She has been in New Zealand for 10 years and lives with her husband Warren and beloved cat Isaac, on whom Doctor Puss is based.

When she was 28, Alexia was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had offered all the treatments.

It was then that she thought about writing a children’s book because all her friends were having children, and her doctors told her she would have to wait five years to have one of her own.

“I’ve thought about it,” she says, “but I put it on the back burner.”

Two years later, the cancer came back in her bones and brain. Her diagnosis is terminal stage four breast cancer.

“I stopped working and felt like I had to have a job,” Alexia says. “I started writing.”

The words portion came easily, she says. It took her a year to illustrate her hand-painted watercolor book.

“It was a lot of work,” she says. “My cancer journey inspired the book.”

Her later travels to Egypt and Greece, her early memories of Australia and Brunei, were the locations her characters would travel to when they found Alex’s tentacle.

Alex’s experience of his missing tentacle throughout the story is a journey of self-acceptance. “He’s learning that he’s perfect just the way he is,” Alexia says.

This was something she experienced herself.

“I had a mastectomy when I was younger,” she says. “It was a struggle to learn to accept myself as I am.”

Alexia told the Times that she is proud of the story and the message.

“If you have something that might be a little different, accept it for yourself and everyone should accept each other,” she says.

The Octopus Visits Doctor Puss is a funny and interactive adventure.

“The kids all laughed,” she says. “There are things they should look for in the pages.”

“It is also good for children who are afraid to go to the doctor. Alex goes to the doctor and he helps him through the whole story.”

The doctors told Alexia that her life expectancy is almost months. “They said that to me a month ago,” she says. “I’m still going strong.”

She is currently undergoing chemotherapy. Going forward, once the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased, she hopes to have the book’s illustrations on display in a gallery, as it’s all hand-painted and hand-drawn.

“The Octopus Visits Doctor Puss” can be found on Amazon.

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