by Sam Mannering & Karen McMillan
No one wants to read this book. No one wants to need to.
There are a lot, however, who will gain much from doing so, for it is more than its title suggests.
Everyday Strength has a dual purpose – not only does it offer tips and recipes for those facing cancer, it’s an informative work for others when someone they care about, and for, is in that position. I fall into one of those categories.
The advice it offers is more acceptable because it does not take a purely clinical approach but is a sharing from people who have already trodden the path to those setting out on the journey.
Its two authors have fought melanoma and breast cancer respectively. They tell their stories in a straightforward way – briefly, not over-dramatically. Sam says – Telling my story now is about context and a platform for positivity. Karen explains her purpose for its writing – I hope that Everyday Strength will be a valuable resource for people…It has much information that I wish I’d known when I was in the middle of my own battle.
The chapters that follow their introductions deal with the effects of various treatments, covering exhaustion, lack of appetite and weight loss, nausea, common side effects of hormone therapy, dealing with pain and discomfort, the symptoms you don’t want to talk about, hair care and skin care and nails, emotional wellbeing.
These chapters are separated by sections with recipes selected to minimize unwanted side effects. They cover drinks, soups, salads, mains, baking and desserts. Each of these sections, as with the best quality cookbooks, is beautifully illustrated with full-page full colour photographs.
Then comes the hardest part for anyone to accept – a chapter on caring for children with cancer. Again, this one discusses effects of treatment, and also the emotional support of the patient and their siblings. This too is accompanied by a separate section of recipes, chosen to appeal to children.
Much thought and caring has gone into the production of this book. It’s a high quality volume – hardback, beautifully presented on top quality paper. Some of the thoughts in the text repeated as quotes in a side column are printed in a pale shade and can be a little hard to read, but that’s a small quibble.
More importantly, it’s clear throughout that this has been written by someone who has been there. Overall,it strikes just the right balance in presenting facts, feelings (It’s ok to have a good cry when you feel the need), practical advice, and recipes. There’s no doubt that this is a book that will be appreciated by many forced to face some form of this illness.
Authors: Sam Mannering and Karen McMillan Publisher: Auckland University Publisher: Beatnik Publishing