A Duck-Shaped Octopus: A Family’s Journey Through Childhood Cancer by Roanne Barnes Hautapu


ISBN: 978-1-99-115916-8
Softcover / 320pp
75 Colour Photographs

In 2013 Quinn Hautapu presented to hospital with the seemingly minor symptom of a limp arm, within a short time she was on a Life Flight to Wellington to work out the cause of a massive bleed on the brain. She was seven years old.

A month later, after brain surgery and numerous scans, the Hautapu family was given the shocking news that Quinn had brain cancer. What followed was 12 months of the most intense, emotional and difficult time that a family can experience.

From further brain surgery to remove a tumour, to radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and physical therapy, Quinn spent most of the next year in and out of Starship Hospital, while her family moved into Ronald McDonald House close by.

They were away from their Palmerston North home for most of the year.

The entire time it was uncertain if Quinn would survive.

In a day by day journal, Roanne Barnes Hautapu, Quinn’s mother, has written a profoundly moving account of what the family went through, expressing the overwhelming trauma and gruelling realities of dealing with childhood cancer.


“Hearing that your child has cancer is one of the most dreaded and traumatic things that a parent can experience. As a psychologist working with families where a young person has been diagnosed with cancer, I have seen firsthand the enormous impact that childhood cancer has on all those who love the patient.

There is great strength and hope in reading stories such as Roanne’s, which is a raw and honest account of a family facing cancer with love and bravery and who have forged a new life managing the ongoing impacts cancer can have. This book will make you cry, laugh and marvel at the strength of a family’s love for their child. This account of finding resilience in the face of grief and adjustment provides hope for those who may be currently going through cancer with their child, and will both validate the emotional impact of the experience while providing an example of living life positively and fully in survivorship.”

Kirsty Ross, PGDipClinPsych, PhD
Associate Professor and Senior Clinical Psychologist