Dancing with Cancer, and how I learnt a few new steps is a compelling, beautifully written and very moving account of one woman’s journey with cancer. Despite the difficult subject this book is a page-turner.
Diana Brueton’s intimate diary extracts and unflinchingly honest account captivate the reader from the outset and lead us from the traumatic discovery of her terminal cancer, through her feelings, her separation from the NHS and the alternative healing methods she used, to the impact of the disease on her partner and friends, and her eventual, graceful acceptance of the fact that she would die soon. Yet it is as much a book of joyful living as it is about graceful dying.
This is powerful and absorbing read and is both full of heart and it is heart-wrenching. As readers we walk side by side with Diana as she confronts her fear, anger, rage, grief and her joy, love and gratitude for every moment of living. As the story unfolded Diana began to feel like a dear friend although I barely knew her in life.
This book is food for thought for anyone who can relate to that feeling of always needing to do more, which got in the way of Diana relaxing – I certainly can. It seems to be a symptom of living in this Western society today and Diana believed it was one of the causes of her illness.
It’s also a manual for anyone trying to come to terms with their own impending death. Diana reminds us how out of touch this culture is with death and dying and illustrates how it could be instead – peaceful, accepting and filled with grace. She is a shining example of how I would like to go into my own death.
The book has a strong spiritual element that sustained Diana throughout her shortened life and went with her across the threshold of death. So the book is filled with apt and beautiful quotes and poems from spiritual teachers. Diana’s writing is so warm and so full of heart that twice after reading it I was filled with an overwhelming sense of love inside and surrounding me.
Diana is as much an artist in her paintings as she is in her writing and the words convey the awfulness of her situation with such ‘meatiness’. There is a succulent juiciness to her story that captures her presence and the totality with which she took the finite steps of her life’s journey.
As a reader, I gained so much from reading this: I was humbled, my life is not so difficult. I became more grateful for this gift of life and the things I normally take for granted and I try to remember this. I learned what it is to accept the inevitability of your own death and prepare for that with as much honesty, love, compassion and grace as possible. I also want to make meditation a more integral part of my life.
I’d recommend this book to everyone – it’s about a loving way of dying.
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Health warning: The author appears to have deep trouble to accept the facts of life and death on her difficult journey of transformation. This may be very normal and I feel empathy towards her, however, to potential readers of this book: whilst well written, this is a harrowing journey. To potential dance enthusiasts: don't be deceived, no actual dancing occurs. Perhaps dancing might have helped...who knows? I felt very saddened when reading the book and this feeling has stayed with me longer than I would have wished for.
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This book is incredibly well written, but a little overwhelming in places. It is a very moving account of one woman's determination to live every moment of her life fully, as she fights to hang on to it. Her courage is awesome! It might not always be a comfortable book to read,but it is very insightful, generous, full of love of live and people. Diana Brueton was an amazing individual, highly creative and spiritual - full of passion and joy of life. Her words will linger with you.