Nicola Bourne, the author of the book, is herself a Cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in 2012 with colorectal Cancer and told by doctors that she may not make it! Being a mother of two small children at the time (one of which being only 3 moths old!) I cannot even begin to imagine how this must have felt. But thankfully, despite all the odds Nicola was given the all clear in 2014 and was therefore able to produce this amazing book to help other women going through the same thing!
The book itself is super easy to read, with clear digestible chunks which not only feature in the contents page but are also indexed by category in the back (my inner organizational freak is loving life right now!) This layout allows you to dip in and out to find the specific information you need without going through the whole thing. The chapters include clear headings and a lot of the important information is written in a list format (because hello! who doesn’t love a list!) At the end of each chapter Nicola recaps anything of note, so again you don’t have to read back over the whole section. (She’s a helpful little gem that Nicola isn’t she!)
The book is written in a chatty, down to earth style which makes you feel like you are listening to a friend rather than a doctor. I think it is important to not only have technical support but also emotional and practical support which I believe Nicola delivers through her personable account. She is open and honest about her experiences which allows you to relate, to know that you aren’t alone in this, that someone else has been there before and managed to get through it! Nicola also tragically lost her own mother to this disease which allows her to comment on both sides, I feel that this opens the book up to family and friends of Cancer patients, letting them know how they can help and what effect they have on their loved one.
I am going to throw one small curve ball in here because the English Language student in me couldn’t get passed it and that is the spelling/grammatical mistakes throughout the book HOWEVER, I must point out that this in no way takes away from the books purpose or message and if anything shows that Nicola, like all of us, is only human!! Not only this, but she is a human who has two small children and a husband to look after and who has just defeated Cancer… I think we can let these slide! (she is a power woman in every other sense!!)
Nicola, although a survivor of bowel Cancer, does not hone in on this … her experiences, hints and tips are generalised which makes the book accessible for women going through any type of Cancer. Personal accounts from other women, all going through different Cancers, are also included. This struck me as genius especially in the chapter which talks about changes in your appearance. Nicola had not lost her hair during her treatments and instead of trying to write about this herself she sought the tale of another lady who had actually gone through it. I think this is a true statement to Nicola’s passion for the book and its integrity, ensuring that her readers get the best information possible.
What I loved most about this book is that each chapter starts with a positive quote… no matter what the subject you enter with a positive outlook and I think this is an important skill to have when dealing with Cancer. Having expressed my love for organisation it is no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed Nicola’s hints and tips on how to plan for everything! Including how to keep a chemo diary, how to prepare for a holiday, what to pack for hospital… I honestly think that if I had to go through this now I would be able to approach certain situations with a little more clarity! She also writes about things that you may never have known existed such as, yoga for Cancer patients!!
As the book is written specifically for women Nicola speaks about not being able to fulfill her traditional role within the family and how this affects her – I think this is an important factor and one that many women going through cancer, or any illness, will relate to. Certain parts of treatment or recovery that make you feel less feminine and not being able to care for your own children must be such a hard concept to get your head around! The book also shows the importance of family and friends, how they can help you, how to deal with awkward situations (such as asking a friend to leave when you become too tired) and how to remain upbeat and sociable. It is so important to try a grasp some sense of normality while going through this and Nicola has some great hints and tips to ensure this happens! One which I found to be so simple yet effective is to take pictures of your loved ones to the hospital with you, or any trinkets that will make it feel more like a home away from home, these items will help to keep you upbeat and give you that drive to keep up your fight!
However, it’s not all happy days and positive thoughts. Nicola openly and honestly touches on the down days, the depression, the how am I ever going to get through this? Again letting her readers know that they are not alone, that it is okay to feel like this and to let it all out and then work on building yourself back up! It’s important not to make comparisons between yourself and others, take this at your own pace and don’t push yourself! This is a message which is strongly conveyed in the final chapter.
A friend of mine recently went through Cancer, Jessie was diagnosed with Sarcoma which is a rare disease effecting connective tissues within the body, for her it was the hand. I mention this because I have never known someone to be so upbeat, positive and truly inspirational during such a traumatic time! Jessie’s facebook was full of smiles, laughs and videos of her dancing around the chemotherapy room. She not only inspired those with Cancer but also people like me, who were sitting at home feeling negative about nothing, whilst she was being so positive. What really resonated with me though, was that Jessie never seemed to think about herself – her journey through Cancer always seemed to be a fight to help others! When starting chemo she shaved her head raising money for charity, she took it upon herself to raise awareness of this rare disease through interviews (see here) and also started a plight to raise money for a young girl named Charlotte, who sadly lost her leg to sarcoma and dreamed of going to Florida to swim with the dolphin with a prosthetic tail! (see story here) It is for this reason I have asked Jessie to contribute to this post and she kindly agreed to answer the following questions:
1. How did you remain so positive all the time? I followed your journey on facebook and I was so inspired by how happy and full of life you seemed to be even at such a rough time!?
I had this question asked a lot through my time of treatment etc and I have come to the conclusion that it was just ‘easier’!! I knew nothing different at the time and figured it was much easier and more pleasant to stay on the bright side !! I do consider myself very very lucky that for me, it was very easy to remain positive. I understand that other would really struggle, but I didn’t see any other way. At least when I look back at pictures etc i have lovely, funny memories.
2. Did you have down days and how did you cope with that?
No, not really. I had days where I was/felt sick and was sick but it didn’t affect me emotionally. I was so focused on getting on with things – i didn’t let things get me down.
3. Did you ever look for or read any self help books/blogs/articles?
Nope, never. I am terrible at reading- cant sit still!
4. Do you think a book that is more personable and deals with every day issues such as how to remain social when you don’t feel up to going out and where to find certain information on things such as yoga for cancer patients would be beneficial for people going through this?
Yes, possibly. The best thing is to talk to others but some are even afraid or too poorly to do so, so this would the next best thing.
5. What would be your top 3 tips for anyone going through the same thing?
TALK. Talk things through- enough- a lot. To anyone, even yourself through meditation. It is so therapeutic to talk and discuss things. Not necessarily with health professionals either- people you can trust or complete strangers maybe in the same boat.
KEEP BUSY. Keep your mind active, I did lots of creative writing and meditation. Busy doesn’t have to mean up and running around- exercise is great but it is so so important to keep your mind and your soul healthy and recharged.
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES. Most importantly- look for the good things, even if you really have to dig deep. There will be plenty- trust me! Small ones are just as relevant. ! Eg. -Get to spend more time with certain people. -See new parts of London (even if its cause of traveling to the hospital) -get to eat crisps whenever you like!! Share your experience after- someone else may benefit from your story- that’s a great positive!! If you focus on them, your brain will be trained to then always see the good and you will be forever grateful smile emoticon
Women like Jessie and Nicola, who have gone through something traumatic and instantly thought – How can I make this better for others? Are truly inspirational – we need more of this in the world and I cannot thank these ladies enough for their contributions to the Cancer society!
As far as I can tell there is nothing else like “The Fabulous Women’s Guide Through Cancer” on the market. I think it is THE essential self help guide for ladies handbags everywhere! And if you want to get your hand on a copy … look no further!
One lucky Life by Laura reader will be able to own a copy of this amazing book completely free of charge! All you need to do is give this post a like and comment below with your email address… The competition will end in one week (Sunday 8th November 2015) where I will put all the email addresses in a hat and pick a winner!! I will then contact that person by email, but will also announce the news on my twitter feed and facebook page.
But not to worry if you don’t win cause you can still grab your very own copy on Amazon.
Good luck everyone! 🙂 <3
Cancer is always such a terrifying word!
We are constantly being told that pretty much everything we do or consume will in someway give us Cancer so it is difficult to know how to live … but I think the answer is just that, to live! We never know when this horrible disease may come knocking at our door so instead of sitting around worrying about it lets go out and live life to its full potential so that if anything ever did happen… we would have no regrets!
Say what you feel, do what you love, hug, kiss, eat, dance, sing, run… whatever your passion – just do it!
Peace and love xoxo
** See disclaimer.