Being a surrounded by science, medicine, and the ill as a medical student, means that I am not in the habit of picking up books devoted to any kind of illness - let alone cancer. * I was attracted to this book not by its title, but by the name John Diamond. *I was not familiar with his column in The Times, or his Radio and Television appearances. I knew him) not for his immense literary talent, but for being married to the ‘Domestic Goddess’, Nigella Lawson.
The author begins the book as a much accomplished Times columnist and radio broadcaster, describing himself as a "sometime smoking, unexercised and overweight man of forty-ish". He chronicles his experience in March 1997, after the removal of a cyst in his neck, when was diagnosed as having cancer, the form of which that afflicted him was a particularly disastrous one for someone who earned his living in part by means of speech, for the primary tumour was in his tongue.
‘C’ is a blow-by-blow account of the progress of his cancer and its various treatments, juxtaposed with forays into the daunting medical literature, autobiographical snippets, and meditative reflections on what the cancer means. As a guide to cancer, Diamond is usefully knowledgeable, able to cut through the medical profession's defensive euphemisms and tell us what's really going on. As a guide to himself, *Diamond is refreshingly honest *, so we get the whole man with all his personal strengths and foibles, and it's actually difficult to read the prognosis with which he leaves us, as he engages the reader to care intensely about his experiences. The manner in which he coped with his cancer, and was able to write about his disease with such flair and wit, is really beyond my understanding. His lack of self-pity, the way he didn't want to be seen as a 'victim' but just as someone who had got cancer, was truly refreshing.
I was amazed that I managed to read this book in two days. The author’s terrific prose and probing insights meant that I could not put it down. * Diamond’s definition of cancer at the beginning of the book is memorable for both its clarity and wit, aimed at the masses, yet scientific enough for the medical reader not to feel patronised. This highlight aside, *what is striking for the reader throughout, it is the overwhelming passion for life. Even when things get tough - Diamond manages to find something worth living for - whether it's the simple pleasures of being in one's own home and experiencing the smells of domestic life, or simply going to buy new clothes.
A most inspiring man, and a most compelling read.
8Sajini Wijetilleka's Score