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Read a children's book on childhood cancer at this New West store

Author Safia Dhalla will read out from her newly-published ‘Sophie’s Story: I have cancer’ at New Westminster’s Kinder Books as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, on Sept.10.

Safia Dhalla was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of four. Through the chemotherapy sessions at BC Children’s Hospital, Dhalla, now a kindergarten teacher at Collingwood in West Vancouver, remembers her mother reading to her from the children’s book ‘Sophie’s Hideaway’. 

The pop-up book, though a “silly story about (a kid called) Sophie hiding in different places,” gave her a lot of comfort. 

Several years have passed since; but Dhalla remembers how hard it was, and knows how hard it can be for kids and their families to go through a phase such as what she went through. 

Which is why, in October 2021, she began writing her own story in the form of a children’s book ‘Sophie’s Story: I have cancer’ — It's about a girl called Sophie (Safia’s nickname is Sophie) who is “brave and strong” and survives cancer. 

“The book is about me; it's about me going through cancer. It talks about what cancer is, and how children are strong and brave. I repeat that very often in the book — children are strong and brave.” 

She noted that the words ‘I have cancer’ in the title can make the book seem negative — in fact, some bookstores even refused to stock her book in their stores because of the grim title, she said. But it’s a positive story, she added. 

“In the end, it has me being a teacher. I'm here, I'm alive, I'm strong, I got through it. And other children can get through it too.” 

Dhalla knows that with the book, she has delved into an uncommon genre. “We hear a lot about it (cancer) with adults. But when kids go through it, I feel like it's a little hush hush.”

Her book, she hopes, encourages a conversation about it, between adults and children. She said, ”I had a comment on my Amazon page from someone who said that it helped their child understand what cancer was, because people in their family were going through it.”

More importantly, she added, "Everyone needs to be aware that kids go through this — kids go through chemotherapy like adults do."

"It's more harsh on the kids than it is on the adults."

Join Dhalla at Kinder Books (810 Quayside Dr.) on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., as she talks about the topic and reads out from her book ‘Sophie’s Story: I have Cancer’ . Proceeds from the book sales will be donated to The Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program at BC Children’s Hospital. 

While you are at the event, also take time to check out artist in residence Nicholas Branchati’s postcards (made for the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month) and write down a message of support to the children at BC Children's  Hospital, in one of the sticky notes that's part of a giant golden heart (gold is the colour of Childhood Cancer) installation in the River Market Food Hall — the notes will be gathered and sent to BC Children’s Hospital along with the donations.