The journey of a woman with terminal cancer inspired her to write a children’s book.
Alexia Stevens, 34, recently published her book titled Octopus visits Doctor Puss is a humorous story starring a nervous octopus named Alex who goes to see Doctor Puss after losing a tentacle.
Doctor Puss takes Alex on an adventure around the world in search of his tentacle.
The sites visited by these two characters – Egypt, Greece, Australia – were drawn from Alexia’s own experiences.
Born in England, Alexia’s parents traveled with their children.
“Mom and Dad have always wanted to travel,” says Alexia. “We ended up in Australia and Brunei.
It instilled in her the love of travel. Alexia, who lives in Cockle Bay, studied interior design in London.
She would continue to do retail management, which was intertwined with interior design as she would sell furniture and renovate homes and have a part-time modeling gig with K&K Fashion.
She has been in New Zealand for 10 years and lives with her husband Warren and her beloved cat Isaac, on whom Dr Puss is based.
At 28, Alexia learned she had breast cancer. She had all the treatments offered.
It was around this time that she thought about writing a children’s book because all of her friends had children, and her doctors told her that she would have to wait five years to have her own.
“I thought about it,” she said, “but I put it on the back burner.”
Two years later, the cancer returned to his bones and brain. Her diagnosis is terminal stage 4 breast cancer.
“I stopped working and felt I needed a job,” says Alexia. “I started to write.
The words part came easily, she said. It took him a year to illustrate his hand-painted watercolor.
“It was a lot of work,” she says. “My cancer journey inspired the book. “
His subsequent trips to Egypt and Greece, his earliest memories of Australia and Brunei, were the places his characters would go to find Alex’s tentacle.
Alex’s experience of his missing tentacle throughout the story is a journey of self-acceptance. “He learns he’s perfect the way he is,” Alexia says.
It is something that she herself experienced.
“I had a mastectomy when I was younger,” she says. “It was a struggle, learning 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 could be a little different, accept it yourself and everyone should accept each other,” she says.
Octopus visits Doctor Puss is a fun and interactive adventure.
“The kids all laughed,” she says. “There are things they should look for in the pages.”
“It’s also good for children who are afraid to go to the doctor. Alex visits the doctor and he helps her throughout the story.
Doctors told Alexia her life expectancy was close to months. “They told me that about a month ago,” she said. “I’m still going strong.”
She is currently undergoing chemotherapy. Looking to the future, she hopes, once Covid-19’s lockdown restrictions are relaxed, showcase the artwork from the book in a gallery as they are all painted and hand-drawn.
- “The Octopus Visits Doctor Puss” can be found on Amazon.