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Thursday, 1 October 2015

Book Review: "The Boy in the Mirror" by Tom Preston

The Boy in the Mirror is a searing memoir which takes the reader through the agonies of prolonged cancer treatment, specifically chemotherapy. As a mere 21 year old, Tom was diagnosed with stage 4 advanced lymphoma and his chances didn't look good. Put on an intense course of chemo, Tom spent several months in hospital, delirious with pain and questioning his future.

This is an incredibly powerful book and a story which made me feel closer to the suffering those undergoing this kind of treatment really go through. As we are constantly told by the news, cancer is a common disease and it is most likely that you know someone who suffered from it. This book took me back to when my Dad had chemotherapy for testicular cancer when I was a teenager. From the outside looking in, it was awful to see someone I loved suffering like that. What this book gave me, was some meagre insight into what it must have been like for my Dad.

There is a moment in the book where Tom sees a small girl with cancer on television, smiling through the pain. He feels guilty that his diseased body is so disgusting. To me, this sums up what's so brilliant about this book; cancer treatment is not glamourised; the author doesn't play into any accepted narratives of the brave patient, but rather presents events - the bleeding, shedding skin, intense pain, peeing into cardboard bottles - as they were. In a poignant ending Tom explains how that fragile, bald and bleeding boy in the mirror will always be with him as he goes through life.

I strongly recommend buying this latest title from the Valley Press website and I hope to read more of Tom Preston's impressive writing.

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