About "Chicken Legs"
The inspiration behind Chicken Legs' Arroyo has always been the precious bundle above: Maisie Nuria Arroyo. Maisie was born prematurely in September 2019 and had already overcome some huge challenges before coming home to her Mummy and Papa.
Originally, the book was planned as a first birthday present for Maisie from "Auntie Jenny", who occasionally dabbles in a bit of watercolour painting and calligraphy when she's not busy being a lawyer (Auntie Jenny had also always secretly dreamed of illustrating a children's book....shh, don't tell anyone!).
Chicken Legs' Arroyo was destined to centre around a little armadillo named Chicken Legs. Auntie Jenny and Maisie's mum, Fiona, bonded over their shared love of the little armoured creatures at university. And Chicken Legs was Maisie's nickname from the start - her little legs hadn't quite filled out properly when she was born and for a while resembled... chicken legs! Maisie's surname - Arroyo - means 'stream' in her Papa's native Spanish, so Chicken Legs' Arroyo just had to take place on a riverbank!
Devastatingly, in March 2020, aged six months old, Maisie was diagnosed with a malignant rhabdoid tumour, a very rare form of childhood cancer. Rhabdoid tumours can start in the brain, spine, kidneys or other parts of the body (Maisie's started in her kidneys). Symptoms can include abdominal swelling, nausea/vomiting (especially in the mornings), tiredness and an inability to do skills previously mastered. Treatment usually includes intensive chemotherapy, surgery and, in some cases, radiotherapy. Sadly, the prognosis for most children diagnosed with these tumours is very poor. More information on malignant rhabdoid tumours can be found here and here.
Feisty, strong-willed and hilarious, Maisie was dubbed the "Ward 2 Diva" by the nursing staff who cared for her at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. She fought bravely against the cruelest of diseases, always with a smile on her little face and her Mummy and Papa by her side. Sadly, despite the best efforts of her medical team, Maisie passed away in her loving parents' arms on 28 September 2020.
She was just 1 year, 1 week and 1 day old.
Inspired by Maisie's journey, the story of Chicken Legs' Arroyo naturally developed into one of perseverance, bravery and overcoming life's challenges with the support of good friends. Instead of just one copy of the "birthday book", there's (hopefully!) going to be thousands, all sold in Maisie/Chicken Legs' name - quite literally!
During her illness, Maisie and her family were supported by many wonderful charities, including LoveOliver (registered charity number SCO42450). LoveOliver was set up in 2011 by Andy and Jennifer Gill in memory of their son, Oliver, who was diagnosed with the same form of cancer as Maisie. LoveOliver have set up a special fund so that other families faced with this unimaginable diagnosis can be supported in Maisie's name.
Proceeds from the sale of Chicken Legs' Arroyo will go directly to LoveOliver helping to support their work in childhood cancer research and providing practical support to families like Maisie's. For more information about LoveOliver and the fantastic work they do, please visit www.loveoliver.org.uk
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