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4.8 out of 5 stars
C: Because Cowards Get Cancer Too
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2001
I am not renowned as a great reader, but was looking for a book that would look at cancer from another angle. My father was recently diagnosed with Lung Cancer, and I thought who better to tell me what he may be feeling than someone who had been throught it all. The book was truely inspirational to me, and I found that I was able to smile at things I thought I would not smile at again. John Diamond's style of writing is such that I found it difficult to put the book down. I would whole heartedly recommend this book to anyone - You don't need to read it to find out about cancer(there are many books on that subject!) You do however need to read it to find out about life and that amazing thing called Human Spirit!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2002
This should be required reading for all medical students and nurses.I re read it when I was in hospital being treated for cancer and I found it a great companion.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This book is apparently now required reading for oncologists and their ilk who have to deal with cancer patients and their relatives on a daily basis. This is a good thing, as so often, people in these tragic situations get ground up and spat out by the system, rather than helped by it.
Diamond was one of the first people to write about his condition and the situations in which he found himself. Now there are a plethora of books out there, all worthy in their own way, but which perhaps make this book just one of millions and liable to be missed, which is a shame.
Much of the pleasure of the book, and it is a pleasure to read, despite the painfulness of the material, is in Diamond's uniquely funny and self deprecating voice, which is sorely missed now that he is gone.
This does not make for comfortable reading material, but it is good to see someone get angry and be human about their pain, rather than turning into Mother Theresa and insisting that everything is alright. Of course everything is not alright, and we feel time and again that Diamond has to literally pull himself up by his bootstraps to face what is to come, and we sense the anxiety and fear in him that things will not go right, and what will he do?
As ever, there are no right answers here. The only thing we can do is understand the individual and their need to cope with what comes in whatever way is appropriate to them. That he allowed us to share his feelings, for however brief a time is an honour, and of all the books of this kind this is one of the best, equalled only by Ruth Picardie's also groundbreaking and heartbreaking work, Before I Say Goodbye.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 23 May 1999
John Diamond is one of those journalists who pop up in all sorts of civilised BBC TV and radio programmes; the sort of bon moteur I never tire of watching and listening to. This is a spare, lean and erudite account of his throat cancer, and is full of his characteristic wit and matter of factness. It is so readable and at times laugh out loud funny. At the same time it is moving. Last year I read Ruth Picardie's "Before I Say Goodbye", also about living with cancer, which moved me to tears. C, is not so different and equally effective in illustrating life with cancer. There, but for the grace of God, go I. Diamond and Picardie's books are ground-breaking. Whereas the latter was posthumumous, Diamond's is a living testament to stoicism, even though he would not accept that he is a stoic. Thankfully John Diamond is still with us. This book shines with his personality. For me this is epitomised by two TV appearances I remember vividly. On BBC2's Behind the Headlines, sometime in the early nineties, he was berating the closure of libraries, saying that when he was growing up in Hackney, possession of a library card meant one thing: civilisation. I saw him on Ruby Wax's late night food and chat show, when he was in post-operative discomfort. Despite this I could tell exactly what he was saying. A fine book which in future will be studied by medical and literature students alike.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 25 May 2002
I came across John Diamond towards the back of The Times magazine one Saturday afternoon.
Not ever having read anything about him before, and not knowing that he had cancer,I, at first, found his column to be rather bleak.
Though it always had a streak of wit and dark comedy running through it.
It was shortly before his death that I read his book, C:Because Cowards get cancer to.
Well, though he hated to be refered to as brave, he was certainly no coward.
The way he coped with his cancer, and was able to write about his disease with such flair and wit, is really beyond most of our understanding.
We also musn't forget that before his writing about his disease made him famous John was a prolific writer, journalist, columnist and broadcaster.
He remained prolific, at least in terms of the written word, right up until his death in March last year.
In this book he tracks the 'progress' of his throat cancer, including having to have part of his tongue removed, and does so in a matter of fact way.
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.
The ultimate irony about him, of course, is that he became the man profligate with words who couldn't speak and the man who was married to a top TV cook and yet couldn't eat.
Despite all this, however, he remained dignified to the end and, though we will never know the darker side of the torment he must have felt at knowing he was going to die at such a young age and having to leave behind a beautiful wife and two young children who adored him, his sense of what is really important in life remained true to the end.
He once wrote that the meaning of life is 'loving and being loved, about one day being missed when your gone.'
He was right. And he is very much missed.
Mathew Hulbert.
Journalist.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2002
Being a reasonably squeamish individual, I am not in the habbit of picking up books devoted to any kind of illness - let alone cancer. But then I was drawn to the strangely chirpy cover of this book not by its title but by the name John Diamond. I was familiar with his writing long before his cancer columns in The Times. And it is testament to his terrific prose and probing insights that I managed to read this book in no more than a few days. His definition of cancer at the begining of the book is memorable for both its clarity and wit. But if there's one thing that strikes the reader throughout, it is the overwhelming passion for life. Even when things get tough - and they get pretty damn 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.
Don't be put off by the 'c' word. This is a minor masterpiece. A celebration of life - not the dwelling on death.
God bless you, John Diamond.
Alex Pearl, author of 'Sleeping with the Blackbirds'
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2004
It is not an exagerration, it is impossible to put this book down. I read it within two evenings. The knowledge, the insight, the wit and honesty that John Diamond writes with is unparalleled for a book of this genre.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 2001
Hands up now - which of you Amazondotcodotuk subscribers have cancer? OK. Now hands up all of you who feel that maybe, someday, due to current habits, or maybe just sheer bad luck and statistics, may end up as as a cancer sufferer? I know, I know ...hardly fair...but entirely reasonable. Let's look at the odds. One in four of us. It's as well to read John Diamond's account of his own illness. Trust me...no self-wallowing or over-dramatic imagery for the sake of book sales; we're talking an honest, informative, at times poignant but witty account of his own cancer experience (admittedly subjective, but then what do you expect?). Knowing how the story ultimately pans out only makes for more painful, yet compulsive, reading. All I can say is...John Diamond - you're top of my posthumous dinner party list. And do you know the funny thing?? You always were on account of your brilliant contributions to The Times, etc. A great loss to your family, friends, tabloid, broadsheet and periodical readers alike. RIP.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 1999
I read this book cover to cover in practically one sitting. John Diamond deals with a difficult subject with humour and immense bravery. His overwhelming love for his wife and children shines through on every page. I particularly liked the list of things that BUPA had bought him..!! The courage and dignity with which John Diamond and his wife Nigella have dealt with the subject matter is humbling. I can not recommend this book highly enough. H.W
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 1999
I couldn't put it down. John Diamond writes about his cancer in a very matter-of-fact way, in a witty and very human fashion. He doesn't try to make you cry, or to extract sympathy, he just takes you through the past months from his perspective. Knowing at the time of writing this review he has so far survived his cancer, you expect at any turn of the page to see the magic words, "I'm in remission". Read the book to see if he is.
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