Hero of the Month - Alex-Tousignant

Tania Antonacci: This Month’s Hero

Meet Tania, whose daughter was diagnosed with cancer at three years old. She is also a grade 3 teacher and author of Alyssa's Butterfly—a special book she wrote for her daughter when she was undergoing chemotherapy and afraid of the needle. Tania turned her sorrow into a magical book that helps alleviate a child’s fear of chemotherapy.  

Alyssa’s Butterfly is now included in our EmPower Packs, which children receive when they are newly diagnosed with cancer.

It’s hard to watch someone you love so much…a child so little…undergo a series of treatments she does not understand,” says Tania. “It is a completely helpless feeling for a parent with a child with cancer.

It’s this sense of being out of control that inspired Tania to do something more for her daughter. “Alyssa was three years old, and the needle for chemotherapy terrified her due to all of the poking and prodding she had to endure over and over again—and I realized it had a resemblance to a butterfly, typically a friendly and colourful creature in the eyes of a child.”  

So, Tania started writing; making a butterfly the main character in a book called Alyssa’s Butterfly. “We looked through many picture books and she was excited about the different kinds and colours of butterflies,” says Tania. “The book introduces children like Alyssa to a friendly butterfly that is helping her throughout her journey to get better. The more we talked about it, the more it became tolerable.” 

Tania’s hope is that other children undergoing chemotherapy for cancer will read the book and connect with the smiling character, in order to go into the treatment room with more confidence. 

She is donating all the proceeds from the sale of the book to Childhood Cancer Canada to help others like Alyssa, who she says is now an energetic seven-year-old who loves to dance and sing. 

It has been about four years since Alyssa was diagnosed. Yet, not a day goes by that Tania doesn’t think about what they have been through as family. “The anger, disbelief, sadness, constant fear does not go away easily. I grieve for lost time and other children and families going through the same heartaches,” she says. “My advice to other parents is to take it one step at a time. Every moment feels like an eternity, but it does go faster than you realize.” 



Tania says it is Alyssa who inspires her to find joy in life and keep going. “She was my rock and showed me how to face challenges head-on.” Today, while Alyssa is enjoying life as a normal child again, Tania is thinking about writing more books to help other children undergoing treatment. “I do have some ideas that I want to get started on. It’s my way of giving back to help others in whatever way I can.”  

Alyssa's Butterfly: A Story of Friendship Between a Little Girl and Her Medical Butterfly. 

At the age of three, Alyssa learned that a medical butterfly is truly a special friend. She explains, in simple terms, how her butterfly helps to make her feel better on her journey toward healing. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to Childhood Cancer Canada 🎗️


Each month, Childhood Cancer Canada honours a hero. If you would like to share your hero's story, please reach out to [email protected].

 Yes, I want to support families like Tania's by donating to Childhood Cancer Canada.