Hollywood actor Michael Douglas’s recent diagnosis with throat cancer has put oral and head cancers at the top of the news agenda.
Sufferer Keith Hern, who has beaten throat cancer twice, knows all too well what the actor could be going through, both mentally and physically in his treatment.
Keith’s book, Bangers & Mash, is a first-hand account of his journey through diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and eventual recovery, in prose and photographs.
A professional photographer, Keith documented every aspect of his treatment and won the co-operation and support of the many medical professionals helping him, with his determination to create an honest and detailed memoir that could help and inspire fellow cancer patients like Michael Douglas.
All was going well in Keith’s life ‘until I found a small lump on the side of my neck, and after various tests I was sent into hospital to see a consultant to be told those three words that changed my life – “you have cancer”.’
He underwent operations and treatment and used NLP practices to help him think positively, so he could handle his diagnosis with the disease better and cope with the process of curing it.
Mouth Cancer Awareness Week is all about raising awareness of throat, mouth and head cancers and making sure sufferers are alert to the symptoms so they can be treated early.
Keith adds: ‘I asked my surgeon what would have happened if I hadn’t found the lump when I did. He said that in just months I would have ended up with a lump the size of a golf ball on my neck. Simply, I wouldn’t have survived.’
In Bangers & Mash, Keith relates frankly and touchingly how he felt at every stage of his diagnosis and treatment and gives details of exactly what happened in hospital and the practical effects of the disease and treatment.
The book has won acclaim from grateful cancer sufferers facing a frightening journey into the unknown, and been hailed as an inspiring and comprehensive handbook to coping with – and surviving – cancer.
It’s also been an invaluable resource for carers and relatives.
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, whose first husband John Diamond died of oral cancer, commented, ‘I admire Keith Hern’s spirit and honesty.’
According to the Mouth Cancer Foundation, patients are often ‘overwhelmed with information (some credible, some not) that is often not in the context of their individual needs. There is a need to help people sift through the information available, to understand how it applies to their individual situations’.
As a first-hand account, Keith’s book supports this aim, detailing his experience exactly as it happened, complete with photographs of treatment and the changes he went through physically.
Bangers & Mash (published by MX Publishing, ISBN 978 1 904312772) is available to buy in print or as a Kindle ebook on amazon.co.uk
Keith Hern’s website is www.throatcancersurvivor.co.uk
To find out more about Mouth Cancer Awareness Week, visit the Mouth Cancer Foundation’s website at www.mouthcancerfoundation.org.