The sheer volume of books written by people sharing their personal stories of dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, is testament to the factThe sheer volume of books written by people sharing their personal stories of dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, is testament to the fact that an increasing number of cancer patients make it through treatment and out the other side - which is a huge achievement, in itself. ‘Worms On Parachutes’ is one of those books, written by Sarah-Jane Phillips, a newly-published author. Yet that is where the comparison has to end, because Phillips has penned an unusual book indeed.
The write-up on Amazon begins "This is not just another cancer survival story. It's a story about life and what's important in life. It's a story about the path that life can sometimes take us down and it's about choices.” What I was totally unprepared for, having read the Amazon write-up, was the shocking honesty that Phillips would share through Worms on Parachutes’ pages, and how much it would affect me - a fellow Triple Negative young breast cancer survivor.
A raw, gritty, sometimes-hilarious yet many-times-sad, thought-provoking book about her unusual mystical allies (the worms on parachutes) in surviving not one, but two forms of cancer, Phillips sets the scene by revealing she was always accident-prone, visiting hospital many times for various childhood bumps, knocks and breaks. Quickly skimming through an adventurous childhood overseas, her description of receiving a Hodgkins Lymphoma diagnosis as a young teenager - and subsequent treatment - gives readers the idea that this is one determined girl, although you get the feeling that time has dulled the pain of this particular period in her life. Quite rightly so, as she goes on to make a full recovery, meets the love of her life and goes on to have two girls.
Then the real story begins. Of how the mantle radiotherapy to treat Hodgkins Lymphoma has left her susceptible to cancer. Of noticing a pattern on her breast, of feeling a tiny pea-size lump, of the hospital tests … as I read page 55 on the bus, going towards my yearly mammogram, I started to sob. I had known for certain that my lump was cancerous when MY kindly radiographer had said goodbye, with a touch of unexpected gentleness and care. This book suddenly got personal.
Phillip’s treatment, complications and magnificent determination to get super-fit, to give her body a fighting chance to beat a notoriously aggressive form of breast cancer, had me crying, chuckling, snorting and cheering in equal measure. The tender care, the communication inefficiencies, the clunky bedside manner of particular oncologists, the loving care of her husband, her family and little girls; all rang loud and true. The reverence and affection Phillips’ feels for her surgeon; many breast cancer patients will recognise this! Her heroic efforts, supported by her friends and family, in order to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, were truly inspirational, as was her zest for running and ultra-healthy eating habits.
I applaud Phillip’s bravery in writing such a deeply personal story, very much written in the “I” sense. It is because of her writing style that I say it's an unusual book, very different from the celebrity/raw food/spiritual books available nowadays that talk about cancer. Although I did struggle at times with the flow of the narrative, I really wanted to keep reading. This book is an unedited ‘rough diamond' publication and although I am a stickler for punctuation, grammar, and decent proofreading, in no way did it detract me from wanting to see the book through to the end. Most likely because I knew Phillips had self-published; had it been published through mainstream publishing, I would have given up on it about halfway through! I would be intrigued to see how this book could be rewritten a few years down the line, when her girls are older and she’s got a few more years of ‘Triple Negative’ surthriverhood under her belt; for time really is a great healer, and with it brings a welcome sense of disconnection from the fear we all feel going through treatment and for a few years after.
A really lovely book and one which I would (despite the minor editing and proofreading issues) wholeheartedly recommend to people who, in particular, have been supporters, friends and carers of those with breast cancer. It will offer you a real insight into our minds, hearts and souls. The book cover is adorable, painted by one of her daughters!
“For some of us, ordinary living suddenly takes extraordinary nerve. But it’s amazing how many of us have it when faced with adversity. We’ve paid up front. It’s time to live positively. We have a lot to teach those who take life for granted” - Sarah-Jane Phillips.
Now, off I go to start training in earnest for the Prudential London Bike Ride (2016? who knows!) ...
Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of the book by the author to read, and provide an unbiased review if appropriate....more
What a gem of a book! Being a huge fan of Twitter, this was always going to be a must-read for me.
A very easy read, I feel so inspired by Biz Stone -What a gem of a book! Being a huge fan of Twitter, this was always going to be a must-read for me.
A very easy read, I feel so inspired by Biz Stone - a true Genius and one of life's genuine good guys. His story behind the birth of Twitter is amazing, and being one of the early users of Twitter, I chuckled with laughter as he recounted how the fail-whale came into existence (the graphic! Remember it?!)
Above everything, this book is an insight into the mind of creative genii - and its a powerful story of life, learning curves, triumphs and leaps of faith. Highly recommended.
"Global empathy is the triumph of humanity" - Biz Stone...more
Finished it!!! Bloody brilliant book and her first year through the trials & triumphs pretty much matched my own (especially the emotional & pFinished it!!! Bloody brilliant book and her first year through the trials & triumphs pretty much matched my own (especially the emotional & physical reactions to chemo & RT) ... RIP Lisa xx...more
A beautifully-written story of the power of Love, of friendship, of finding ourselves through the tangled web of memories, family history and pain. AA beautifully-written story of the power of Love, of friendship, of finding ourselves through the tangled web of memories, family history and pain. A keeper!...more
'Beat Cancer : The 10-step plan to help you overcome and prevent cancer' is a book which should be required reading for everyone, as we aspire towards'Beat Cancer : The 10-step plan to help you overcome and prevent cancer' is a book which should be required reading for everyone, as we aspire towards a more preventative model of healthcare
This book is very useful for those who are going through treatment or have finished treatment, although I would personally recommend it as a must-have resource at the point of diagnosis (preferably BEFORE you get test results back, so you can enter into discussions with surgeons and oncologists better-informed).
The authors - Prof. Mustafa Djamgoz and Prof. Jane Plant - have presented the book in a highly-logical, well-presented manner. The easy Steps offer a natural reading-route for those who have need of instant-information at a specific stage of their (or their family/friends) treatment.
Considering the subject matter, this book is extremely well-written and easy to understand. The Appendix has clearly been laid out with much thought, too. It is easy to see that at least one of the writers has had personal experience of the cancer journey, purely because of the clarity of layout - when going through treatment, you need to have things laid out clearly, succinctly. Your brain just cannot cope with anything that is NOT clear and concise!
The book cover looks friendly yet clinical, with an uncluttered look and ‘friendly’ typeface. My one (very personal) dislike is the use of the dark pink colour as a focus colour; although it serves the grey font very well, I feel it could potentially be off-putting to a population that links pink to breast cancer awareness. Especially as one of the writers is so well-known for her writings specifically to do with diet and breast cancer. Potential readers may not realise that it is a book that applies to EVERY type of cancer, irrespective of age.
The layout of the book is clear and well-structured, enhanced by the typeface/font used. There is limited use of diagrams, and what is included is very clear and easy to understand. The appendix is very well laid-out in tabular format, too. All in all, Beat Cancer is a highly readable, user-friendly book about an emotionally-difficult and scientifically-complex subject.
What I really liked about this book was the 10-step way to self-empowerment at a time when cancer patients (and friends, carers, loved ones, etc.) can easily be overwhelmed by medical terminology. The book is extremely well-written, giving a healthy blend of science and medical together with the aspects of good health whilst dealing with cancer (or living with cancer, or post-cancer and in remission), which are often left unsaid by the medical profession. e.g. diet, complementary therapies. It also gives people an underlying (basic) knowledge of orthodox (clinical) medical treatments and why these may be offered. It is so easy to feel disempowered during treatment, and Beat Cancer really helps to give you a bit of the ‘insider knowledge’ so you can work together with your medical team to make fully informed decisions.
If ONLY they could print out just Step 3 when you are handed a diagnosis, it would be such an empowering tool at a time when you feel so very small and inconsequential, a mere body attached a terrifying monster that goes by the broad term of 'Cancer'!
I felt a little disappointed (even cheated, to be honest) by the fact that Step 10 is so lightweight. For such a hugely-important part of the cancer journey (moving on from treatment), I felt 7 pages was far too short. Part of the reason we endure such radical treatments is to try to beat cancer, enabling us to life a full life. Too often, survivors are left bereft of any real support, or guidance as to where to turn to, and I feel that this should have been addressed a little more in Step 10.
There are just NOT enough resources to help the huge numbers of survivors to move forward in life, physically, mentally and emotionally.
I am only giving Beat Cancer 4 stars because of the skirting-around-very-important issues in Step 10. Sadly, I feel this is atypical of a clinician’s writings; it would have been wonderful to have had some input from a psychologist, such as Dr Cordelia Galgut, to give a truly balanced ending to a very interesting, informative and helpful book.
Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of Beat Cancer to review for Macmillan.
75 ways to use your Quirks + inspired Playfullness to manifest a marvellously-meaningful Life!
Life can really grind you down - so much so, that you fi75 ways to use your Quirks + inspired Playfullness to manifest a marvellously-meaningful Life!
Life can really grind you down - so much so, that you find yourself immersed in work and you really can't see the wood for the trees. Even when you specialise in supporting people's growth through creativity + play (after all, every coach needs a coach!). So it was a delight to receive this beautifully-designed book through my inbox during a particularly-difficult month : the colours were so bright, so fun, so playfull, I could almost feel my inner-child squealing with delight, despite being muffled under too-many-layers of adult-must-focus-and-ignore-anything-lighthearted-layers.
Makridakis' latest book - Hop, Skip, Jump - boldly promises to offer you 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life.
Hop, Skip, Jump delivers on this promise, too. The book's introductory session gifts you a l'il bit of background info on why play matters so much in our lives, and how you can use the fun, frolicsome features of this book to discover YOUR most powerful route to manifesting.
Delightful words such as AcroWhim, Manifestagram and Haikoodles draw you towards Makridakis' Quirky Quiz which is a simple way to discover your natural inclinations towards manifesting and creating - in every aspect of your life - and whether you are most at ease in the Hop phase, the Skip phase or Jump phase.
And the beauty of this quirky quiz is that you realise it doesn't matter which phase is your natural comfort zone. You will find PLENTY of ways in each of the enlightening "ways" to enhance the phases you don't feel quite so at ease with, while building on your strengths in the phase that fits you like a snugglesome glove.
I'm a Skipper and used to get quite cross with myself, as my inquisitive mind sees me bunny-hopping gaily through soooo many different things that I often used to find myself feeling overwhelmed and doubtful that I could ever complete anything - happily, Makridakis' shows you in a simple table how each of the three phases (Hop, Skip and Jump) relate to each other, naming the advantages and potential risks of each, and how you can work towards your goals in a playfull, yet consciously direct, way.
So this week I am working on being at peace with myself *chuckle* in addition to taking time each day to dive in to Hop, Skip and Jump, selecting a "way" to work with at whim. Today I am working on "The Sparkle Scavenger Hunt".
For anyone who has not yet experienced the beauty and clarity of using playfullness in a coaching capacity - whether informal or formal - you just have to experience the magic through this gem of a book. A handy size to have in your bag at all times, it's a delicious treasure-chest of ideas to get you out of your head and work with your strengths, while getting you clear through the power of playfullness.
As Makridakis shares: "Play and productivity are no longer two separate worlds that rarely meet ... you get to play AND do. Play matters. Your life matters. It's time to manifest." Hop, Skip, Jump is one little tool to help you do just that. Enjoy the read - and enjoy the process!
Disclosure: I received a pre-release copy of Hop, Skip, Jump from New World Library to review. I am a certified ARTbundance Coach & Practitioner (2011) and ACT Program mentor....more