Hope – A Cancer Doctor’s Life Secrets by David Schlect & Damian Mason

Book Review - Hope – A Cancer Doctor’s Life Secrets

by David Schlect & Damian Mason

Reviewed by Robin Osborne

The initial print run of this work was sponsored by Genesis CancerCare Queensland, and a second edition is on the cards if people heed the advice of Dr Bev Rowbotham, director of haemotology for SNP in Brisbane: “At last, the distilled wisdom that makes good doctors into great doctors… Buy two copies of this wonderful book – one for yourself and one for your doctor.”

Dr David Schlect is a consultant radiation oncologist at The Wesley Hospital, Brisbane, and co-author Damian Mason is a graduate psychologist and radiation therapist who has worked in cancer care for twenty years.

They have combined their skills and experience, added a strong dose of compassion, and produced a valuable guide to help people with a cancer diagnosis maximise the quality of their lives.

“The concept or phenomenon of ‘hope’ has become much maligned in recent times,” they write, adding, “From our perspective in cancer care, this negative perspective of hope could not be further from the truth.”

They address the seeming paradox by describing hope as “very much an active, adaptive response to one of life’s greatest challenges - a cancer diagnosis: the moment an individual may be confronted with their own mortality for the first time.

“From our perspective, hope is an integral component to successfully coping with life’s many and varied travails… High-hope individuals are more likely to find benefits in their attempts at coping with stressors.”

As they suggest, coping is as important as hoping, and this is where practical strategies become important.

With the help of case histories and life affirming quotes - from Lord Byron, Charlie Chaplin, Gandhi and many in between - the book discusses the importance of developing ‘The Plan’.

Key to this are support networks, suitable exercise, rest, and taking enjoyment from life’s pleasures – bungee jump if you will, otherwise have coffee with friends.

Useful advice includes taking action, being willing to change (with more than a nod to Norman Doige), to laugh, to love, and, hopefully, to accept.

“No one can really know how they will react if they were faced with a cancer diagnosis… we simply hope that we are able to emulate their courage, resilience, and choices, if we were ever faced with the same or similar challenge.”

This little (111-page) book would certainly be a valuable guide on such a journey.