I found this book by Wesley Finegan, a Christian doctor and a cancer patient, immensely helpful. At the end of a busy clinical day I sat down with the book and reflected on the different situations I had encountered, what I had hoped to impart in information, support and advice and how the patients and their carers had responded. I then turned to the relevant chapters of this book to consider the questions the author suggests the patients ask and the actions he recommends to them. Time and again I found the chapters accurate, positive and empowering for the patient. It is a 'self-help' book of the best kind and very much in tune with the current thinking of helping patients and their families to help themselves.
This is not a book to sit down and read from cover to cover. It is too full of information for that. Far better to dip into the relevant chapter for you, should you or the one you are alongside be on the cancer journey in some way. After reading 'What do I need to know about my pain?' I would be well placed to describe my situation to the clinician in an informed and constructive way. I would have thought about the different aspects of my pain or pains and what aggravates them. I would know about a TENS machine and be able to ask whether this might help; I would be reminded to ask if I could keep on driving despite new medication.
Beautifully woven into the text is the author's Christian faith and its meaning for him in his own experiences of cancer. This comes over very naturally without pushing the reader into a corner or preaching at a time of great vulnerability.
I was then phoned by a close friend who had gone to hospital for a hernia repair and come home with a diagnosis of inoperable cancer. Before visiting I pondered on whether I could I take a copy of the book to her? How would she receive it? My conclusion was that she would very much appreciate the book but not on my first visit. Perhaps I needed to feel comfortable listening to her hopes and fears at this time, rather than producing a book that includes a chapter 'I'm going into the hospice'. In a few weeks, once chemotherapy is under way, I will definitely recommend it to her. Now there's a good test! This must be a good book to recommend rather than to lend. The reader will want to return to it so often that they will need a copy of their own.
Thank you, Dr Finegan for this excellent text.