A shared experience

I have probably said many times now, that nothing can prepare you for the mental meltdown in the early days of a cancer diagnosis.  But once the shock subsides and the reality of those words ‘You have cancer’ begins to sink in, I had this great need to talk to someone who had been through it all and survived.  Doctors can give you the facts about the treatment but they can’t tell you what it will feel like and I needed to speak to someone who could. 

Later I would get to meet many people who had been through received the same diagnosis but in the first instance I turned to a book  called Bangers and Mash, by throat cancer survivor Keith Hern.   Although my own diagnosis was completely different from Keith’s, the fear and emotions were just the same and I devoured Keith’s book looking for comfort, reassurance and hope. 

Keith tells you about everything: PET scans, CT scans, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and side effects.  Interestingly, Keith worked with an NLP coach to get through the treatment and this obviously helped give him a new perspective.  The coach’s advice to focus on the outcome and regard any setbacks as a diversion on the journey has certainly helped me when I have felt like giving up.  

Autobiographies by cancer survivors are not new, but Bangers and Mash goes a little further.  Keith is a professional photographer and illustrates his diary with pictures of every stage of the treatment. By persuading medical staff to allow the camera into a normally private environment he has tried to de-mystify the process and in his own words to: “take away some of the fear.”

 Being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease is unbelievably traumatic. If you know someone in this situation, it might just help to hear about how someone else went through exactly the same mental trauma  but found a way to come through. 

 Bangers and Mash (you’ll understand the title when you read it) is available on Amazon, from www.keithhern.com, or from www.throatcancersurvivor.co.uk.  To read my full review of Bangers and Mash click here

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