In your face – one woman’s memoir of cancer

Lia Mills

Lia Mills

I am borrowing today’s post from my online friend Lily, an avid reader, who this month chose In your face by Lia Mills. I really enjoyed Lily’s review of this book, which she says ” is the story of ‘One woman’s encounter with cancer, doctors, nurses, machines, family, friends and a few enemies.’ It’s written in diary form. I enjoyed this book because it’s well written, humorous and gave a candid account of her journey with oral cancer. Having read this book, I felt I liked Lia. She was my type of person, positive despite all that was going on, seeing humor in very unlikely places.”

What really struck Lily about this account and from her own experience of a close friend’s cancer journey last year, “is that one needs a back-up army of family and friends to help someone in their cancer journey. Little things like, someone to drive the person to and from daily radiotherapy sessions. People who will be okay no matter what goes wrong, delays at the hospital, ‘accidents’ en route etc. It’s a big ask, but a needed ask. The other thing is that this ‘journey’ goes on for quite a long time. The ‘army’ need to be able for the long haul, marathoners not sprinters.”

How true Lily. So many of us have had that experience of friends and neighbours rallying around in the initial drama of a cancer diagnosis with great reassurances of being there for you, but as the weeks and months pass by, and the realisation that this “cancer thing” is still going on, we watch as they drop by the wayside. Cancer is a lonely experience when you don’t have support but apart from the emotional support, many patients also need practical help.  So please, if you are kind and generous enough to offer your support in the initial stages of a cancer diagnosis, or indeed any life crisis or illness, remember that it is not just for the start of the journey that people need your help, they will also need you at different stages during the journey and beyond.

I remember reading an interview two years ago with Lia, where she remarked that with death no longer an imminent fear, life had become ordinary again. And while she still fussed about the traffic and her bank account  as much as everyone else,  she nevertheless still wakes up with that sense of the beauty of the day. The biggest surprise she found for her, having suffered on and off with depression all her life was when it came down to it, how much she wanted to live.