Medicine And Books Medicine and books

Before I Say Goodbye; C. Because Cowards Get Cancer Too

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 19 September 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:825
  1. Paul Keeley
  1. specialist registrar in palliative medicine, Hunter's Hill Marie Curie Centre, Glasgow

    Before I Say Goodbye

    Ruth Picardie

    Penguin, £5.99, pp 116

    ISBN 0 140 27630 0

    C. Because Cowards Get Cancer Too

    John Diamond

    Vermillion, £9.99, pp 240

    ISBN 0 09 181664 5

    The door into the private world of those with cancer has opened in recent years with the development of a confessional form of writing, often born of journalism, in which the subject's experience of disease, especially life threatening disease, is the central narrative. This form represents a very public breaking of the taboos surrounding cancer and death.

    In the Middle Ages, those who were terminally ill had the primers describing the Ars Moriendi—the art of dying well—to guide them through their last hours and the universal struggle with extinction. The modern patient with cancer has little but the warped images of the visual …

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