on 15 March 2013
I received this book from my book club, the very next day I had read it from cover to cover. I couldn't put it down and when I came to the end I felt immensely sad that I had finished it. Once in a while I come across a book that really grabs my attention, this one pulled at my heartstrings.
Sarah's beautiful writing pulled me in and I felt I was there with her on her Journey, I willed her on to survive. Possibly the most courageous woman I have ever come across. Sarah's book will tug at your heart strings and make you cry and laugh and cry again. I recommend everyone read it for the sheer passion and love for her husband and children to her selfless will to run a marathon for something she believed in. We can all learn lessons from Sarah, an ordinary mother and wife. With an extraordinary will to live, who took on a battle and won. This book will stay with me forever.
on 16 July 2015
The sheer volume of books written by people sharing their personal stories of dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, is testament to the fact that an increasing number of cancer patients make it through treatment and out the other side - which is a huge achievement, in itself. ‘Worms On Parachutes’ is one of those books, written by Sarah-Jane Phillips, a newly-published author. Yet that is where the comparison has to end, because Phillips has penned an unusual book indeed.
The write-up on Amazon begins "This is not just another cancer survival story. It's a story about life and what's important in life. It's a story about the path that life can sometimes take us down and it's about choices.” What I was totally unprepared for, having read the Amazon write-up, was the shocking honesty that Phillips would share through Worms on Parachutes’ pages, and how much it would affect me - a fellow Triple Negative young breast cancer survivor.
A raw, gritty, sometimes-hilarious yet many-times-sad, thought-provoking book about her unusual mystical allies (the worms on parachutes) in surviving not one, but two forms of cancer, Phillips sets the scene by revealing she was always accident-prone, visiting hospital many times for various childhood bumps, knocks and breaks. Quickly skimming through an adventurous childhood overseas, her description of receiving a Hodgkins Lymphoma diagnosis as a young teenager - and subsequent treatment - gives readers the idea that this is one determined girl, although you get the feeling that time has dulled the pain of this particular period in her life. Quite rightly so, as she goes on to make a full recovery, meets the love of her life and goes on to have two girls.
Then the real story begins. Of how the mantle radiotherapy to treat Hodgkins Lymphoma has left her susceptible to cancer. Of noticing a pattern on her breast, of feeling a tiny pea-size lump, of the hospital tests … as I read page 55 on the bus, going towards my yearly mammogram, I started to sob. I had known for certain that my lump was cancerous when MY kindly radiographer had said goodbye, with a touch of unexpected gentleness and care. This book suddenly got personal.
Phillip’s treatment, complications and magnificent determination to get super-fit, to give her body a fighting chance to beat a notoriously aggressive form of breast cancer, had me crying, chuckling, snorting and cheering in equal measure. The tender care, the communication inefficiencies, the clunky bedside manner of particular oncologists, the loving care of her husband, her family and little girls; all rang loud and true. The reverence and affection Phillips’ feels for her surgeon; many breast cancer patients will recognise this! Her heroic efforts, supported by her friends and family, in order to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, were truly inspirational, as was her zest for running and ultra-healthy eating habits.
I applaud Phillip’s bravery in writing such a deeply personal story, very much written in the “I” sense. It is because of her writing style that I say it's an unusual book, very different from the celebrity/raw food/spiritual books available nowadays that talk about cancer. Although I did struggle at times with the flow of the narrative, I really wanted to keep reading. This book is an unedited ‘rough diamond' publication and although I am a stickler for punctuation, grammar, and decent proofreading, in no way did it detract me from wanting to see the book through to the end. Most likely because I knew Phillips had self-published; had it been published through mainstream publishing, I would have given up on it about halfway through! I would be intrigued to see how this book could be rewritten a few years down the line, when her girls are older and she’s got a few more years of ‘Triple Negative’ surthriverhood under her belt; for time really is a great healer, and with it brings a welcome sense of disconnection from the fear we all feel going through treatment and for a few years after.
A really lovely book and one which I would (despite the minor editing and proofreading issues) wholeheartedly recommend to people who, in particular, have been supporters, friends and carers of those with breast cancer. It will offer you a real insight into our minds, hearts and souls. The book cover is adorable, painted by one of her daughters!
“For some of us, ordinary living suddenly takes extraordinary nerve. But it’s amazing how many of us have it when faced with adversity. We’ve paid up front. It’s time to live positively. We have a lot to teach those who take life for granted” - Sarah-Jane Phillips.
Now, off I go to start training in earnest for the Prudential London Bike Ride (2016? who knows!) ...
Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of the book by the author to read, and provide an unbiased review if appropriate.
on 14 April 2013
Sometimes in life you meet special people and through my connections with Breakthrough Breast Cancer I have met Sarah-Jane Phillips who is a survivor of breast cancer. A very beautiful and charming woman who on first meeting you would think had never had a day's illness in her life.
Her book,' Worms on Parachutes' is a story of survival and the journey through Hodgkin's disease, mantle radiotherapy, triple negative breast cancer, chemotherapy, double mastectomy and reconstruction. But it is more than that. It is a real-life story built around determination, courage and love. At times not easy to read, due to the subject matter, it is nonetheless written in such a friendly tone it is as if the author is just sitting in the room and having a conversation with you over a cup of tea, or in Sarah Jane's case eating a bar of Galaxy chocolate.
Sarah Jane Phillips has written an informed , exposing, genuine real-life story that is more than just a legacy for her family. It is also a testament to the NHS and the team of medical professional whose dedication and expertise have made Sarah-Jane the person she is today. It is a reminder of how valuable the NHS is and how it should be cherished.In her introduction Sarah-Jane highlights that the proceeds of the sales of this book will go to the NHS.
The title- 'Worms on Parachutes' I leave for the reader to find out, intriguing but understandable and endearing in context.
This is an inspiring book for anyone who has had cancer or knows someone who has. It is an insight into what may happen and helpful in understanding how you as a friend or family can support someone on this path. Breast cancer is not a pretty disease, it does not happen in isolation. It is not just one part of the body that is involved, it is the whole body, mind and soul and this extends to the body of family and friends.
on 8 April 2013
Sarah's book was my bed-time read. You know how it is, I'll just finish this page, then I'll just finish this chapter. You then have to read the next chapter to see what happens next. I couldn't put the book down until it was finished. Sarah has endured more than most people and was so courageous in her battle to win. I have only admiration for her, firstly for the route she took to beat her cancer and then to have the courage to write an extremely informative book about her journey. Certainly she trod a difficult path and her husband Giles, family and friends must feel really proud to know her. Well done Sarah.
on 15 January 2015
I wasn't quite sure what to expect given the title but I'm so glad I didn't let it put me off reading Worms On Parachutes.
As a breast cancer survivor myself, the honesty, humour and emotion definitely rang a chord with me. It isn't a mirror image of my story but it's definitely one I could relate to. If you want an insight into what it means to be diagnosed with breast cancer, to endure the treatment and come triumphantly out the other end, then you will enjoy reading this book.
I am full of respect for what Sarah-Jane achieved after her treatment had finished. It is an excellent example of how life can return to normal and an inspiration for those wanting to fundraise upon fully regaining their health. I take my hat off in admiration for her achievements, as I would never be able to do some of the impressive things she has done. Wishing her continued good health and many years of N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease) to enjoy with her family.
Thank you Sarah-Jane for sharing your breast cancer story.
on 13 March 2013
Worms on Parachutes is a book for everyone. It is the most courageous account of Sarah's battle against cancer, not once but twice in her life!!! You must read this book as the story is told with complete honesty and shows how the love and support of the medical team,her friends and her family (especially her two daughters and gorgeous husband) helped Sarah through the challenging experiences she went through . The Chapter "worms on parachutes" is absolutely fascinating. This book is not only for those with Cancer although there is no doubt it will help anyone touched by it, but this book is for everyone: anyone who wants to laugh, to cry or simply be inspired by one beautiful lady. I will remember this book forever and I promise if you buy it you will feel the same. Please note: tissues will be required for the reading of this book.
on 21 February 2013
I have just finished reading this book and I literally couldn't put it down. I finished it within 24 hours of starting it - a first for me as a busy Mum of 2! This book is an inspirational, honest account of one woman's battle with cancer, not once but twice. It tells how, as an ordinary Mum going about a normal, daily routine, a life can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye. Most importantly it shows that anything is possible with the right attitude and the best support around you. You will read this book with some tears, but mostly you will be captivated by Sarah's story and inspired by what she went on to achieve. This isn't just a book for those touched by cancer in some way (although it would help you greatly if you do fall into this category), it is a book for everyone.
on 1 September 2015
Fun, frank and feisty, this is a book that makes you think about more than Cancer. Exploring the need for emotional control when faced with potentially terminal illness, this book also touches on the profound and bewildering sense of loss experienced when its all over. I doubt Sarah-Jane ever expected to feel empty as a Survivor and sharing real emotion such as this is what makes this account so personal and so resonating. As ex-military, I can relate to a similar sense of loss on facing tough odds with a close-knit team, surviving and returning home. I am sure that there are many more out there who will enjoy smiling, crying and empathising on this journey with Sarah-Jane. Worms on Parachutes- serenely understated and well worth a read.
on 3 January 2016
Sarah-jane wrote this book from the heart, I love the writing style and found it so easy to read. I was sad to finish it but it gave me hope and kept me positive at a very difficult time, going through breast cancer treatment myself. The book provided tears and laughter , I found myself nodding my head at different chapters that rung true to my experience with cancer . This gem of a book would be helpful for people that are caring for and supporting someone going through breast cancer too. A true and honest account of one determined , strong womens journey going through cancer not once but twice in her life......
This book can and will make leading book stores shelves .