I have been following Sophie’s blog since I was told about it by a mutual friend so feel as though I’ve been sharing the highs and lows of her cancer journey for some time. She is a beloved wife and, above all, a mother of now 6-year-old Gabriella. This is important because it shows the lengths and extremes and sheer pain and discomfort as well as expense a mother will go to to have as long as possible with her young child.

Sophie was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer in 2014 with secondaries in the brain and elsewhere. Her background is writing, speaking and facilitating workshops in changing your life so she is perhaps particularly well-equipped to share her cancer journey with readers. Her approach is integrated medicine, combining medical care – chemo, radiotherapy, the works – with complementary therapies and alternative treatments, some very extreme and prohibitively expensive such as flying to the Oasis of Hope in Mexico. Don’t let this put you off, it is her approach and she doesn’t suggest it invalidates whatever her readers choose to do. It shows that there are other sources of help we might not realise exist, that we must be strong and clear about what we want to do and we have to find and choose our own path through treatment.

But the real value of the book is an approach to cancer that is non-combative, that if we make war on cancer we make war on our own bodies, that we can learn oh so much from this disease to transform our lives, even to being hospitable to the uninvited stranger at our gate (as I’ve expressed it in one of my poems). It is a spiritual book about grief and love and transformation with a lot of practical info along the way.

I wouldn’t try even half of the extreme treatment and diet regimes Sophie follows but then I don’t have a young daughter whom I want so much to see grow up. I don’t think you have to embrace this approach to appreciate what Sophie shares so beautifully about living with cancer and listening to what it has to teach us, what it whispers in our ears about transforming our lives.