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Flourish Magazine: A Children’s Book by Heather Engel

9 Oct 2023

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As part of each issue of Flourish Magazine, we release weekly digital content alongside our free print magazine, on the Artlift and Yes to Life blogs. This is often content we couldn’t fit into the magazine’s limited pages, or film and music, but loved and wanted to show the world.  

This issue of Flourish Magazine was on the theme of ‘Movement’, with submissions from those living with or beyond cancer received through an open call for creative responses to the theme.  

In this week’s digital content, contributor Heather Engel explains how she was moved to start creating a children’s book for her granddaughter during her cancer treatment. Below, she reflects on how the process helped occupy her through this difficult time.

Read the print magazine online for free here, and watch this space for more digital content! 

2021 was not one of my best years on earth, to say the least. On my 65th birthday I was diagnosed with a recurrence of the slow growing cancer, a retroperitoneal lipo sarcoma, then three months later I received the diagnosis of bilateral breast cancer. I was devastated. My husband had also been suffering with a hernia during this time and waiting for surgery. Later that year things improved, my husband had his surgery, and our gorgeous little granddaughter Liliana was also welcomed into the world.  

Liliana became the light in the darkness of my new and very frightening cancer journey. Her arrival moved me to knit baby garments and begin creating a fabric ABC book of creatures for her.  

My breast cancer treatment thankfully concluded in July 2022 and now in July 2023, I am three months post abdominal surgery and all is well so far. Liliana’s book has progressed slowly but greatly during this period of recovery, occupying my mind and hands with something positive to focus on. It’s still a work in progress, with just eight pages left to hand-sew, (‘O’ for owl is currently on my table), and a decorative book cover and protective storage box to create.  

Many of the pages hold precious family memories, not only in some of the materials and notions used, but in the stories portrayed. There is movement to be seen literally in some of the animal pages, but also I believe in the work itself.