I just didn’t know…

Fiona Shaw

Fiona Shaw at the BMA Medical Book Awards in September 2011

 “I was 34; I knew people who’d had breast cancer – some who’d died. Some who’d lived. I read about it – hell, I’d even done a Run for Life. Turns out I didn’t have a clue. Working on ‘Being Sarah’ changed my life.”

says Fiona Shaw, editor and publisher of ‘Being Sarah’.

“But the messages surrounding breast cancer are so complex and contradictory I just don’t know what to do about it…”

Today’s post is by Fiona Shaw who runs her own publishing company – Wordscapes. Since working together on the book Fiona’s become our friend and she often turns up in my posts, you know doing stuff like going to Buckingham Palace and swanky book awards in London. She’s a super-smart fun person, her zest for life is infectious and I love the time we spend together. She can also spell better than anyone I know. And yup, she’s even done a Race for Life!

This is Fiona’s post:

“And so October heralds Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), and – this year – a Being Sarah blog every day. Each and every one of which, I hope, will inform, challenge or add something to breast cancer awareness – in its widest sense. Because I can honestly say that, before I started work on Being Sarah, I didn’t have a clue about breast cancer, and the issues, debates and controversies surrounding it. They are, I guess, out there. If you’re looking. But they’re just not questions and debates that are covered by the mainstream media. If I now know just a fraction of the things I didn’t know before, then it’s down to Being Sarah. Continue reading

The story of Being Sarah

Today it’s exactly one year since we launched my book. You can see a 90 second film of me reading from the book here:

One of the questions people often ask me is, ‘How did you write a book?’ Well, it takes a long time and a lot of editing… and for me a lot of anger and determination. I wanted my words to be heard. So I thought my readers might be interested in the story of how my book came into being. And, fortunately for me, my good friend Rach over at the Can-Do Women blog has already written this, so I’m going to let her tell the story of Being Sarah. Many of you will also know Rach as the snarky and opinionated voice of The Cancer Culture Chronicles.

We did this interview on a Skype conversation in January 2011, the first of many hours of talking together which has led to a deep friendship, despite the 3,500 miles that separate us. You will hear more from Rach during the following month.

Thanks Rach for this and all our conversations. 

“Today I’d like to introduce you to Sarah Horton, author, artist, entrepreneur, blogger, filmmaker, activist and an all-round highly accomplished and creative Can-Do Woman. I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah through my other blog, The Cancer Culture Chronicles, an insider’s view of living with breast cancer in today’s society. I found Sarah’s story to be so incredibly inspiring, and I am delighted to be able to spotlight her achievements here today on the Can-Do Women blog. Here is a part of Sarah’s story.

Being Sarah

22 February 2007, day after diagnosis.

In February 2007, at the age of 43, Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer. To hear those words uttered is a moment so terrifying and raw, that one barely has time to think, let alone be able to string a sentence together in any cohesive manner. Yet, that’s exactly what Sarah did.  Despite being paralyzed with fear (or perhaps “despite” should be read as “instead of”), Sarah began to write in earnest.  On the day after her diagnosis she took a leather-bound journal, had her husband Ronnie take a picture of her at their kitchen table, and  began compiling her thoughts, lists of questions for the doctors, research for treatment decisions; anything that seemed relevant to the horrifying road on which she was about to embark. Continue reading

Some days are.

Being Sarah BMA Book Awards

Me, Ronnie Hughes and Fiona Shaw in Russell Square. A gorgeous golden moment.

Some days you know are days you’ll always remember, even when they’re happening. And this was one.

Me, my partner Ronnie Hughes and our good friend and adviser of ‘all things book’ Fiona Shaw, are off to London for the day to attend an awards ceremony. The 2011 British Medical Association (BMA) Medical Book Awards have recognised my book Being Sarah. Out of nearly 700 entries it’s rated as Highly Commended in the section of Popular Medicine, which means it’s in the top 15% of books that have been reviewed. We are all delighted.

We meet at the station in Liverpool and get the train to London, happily chatting for the two hours it takes, and look at the gastronomical recommendations for our lunch from Ronnie’s friend Liam Black. The sort of restaurants that say ‘napery’, meaning table cloths. All much posher than we’re used to, but hey, this is a day off, a celebration! Continue reading