‘Cancer Girl’

Mary Beard

  • The Diary of a Breast by Elisa Segrave
    Faber, 287 pp, £9.99, April 1995, ISBN 0 571 17446 9

Cancer must sell almost as many books as cookery: not just old-fashioned self-help guides to detection or prevention, tips on how to survive the chemotherapy or colostomy (now lavishly illustrated with the kinds of photograph that were once allowed only in medical textbooks), but also a vast range of new-style ‘cancer journals’. These are first-person accounts – diaries, memoirs or letters – that chart the progress of ‘me and my cancer’ from the moment of discovery, through diagnosis and treatment, to life again on the other side. They range in tone from something close to Gothic horror to naive optimism.

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