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Today breast cancer survivor, blogger and avid reader Stephanie Butland launches the Bah! Brilliant Book Bonanza, an online giveaway of good, uplifting books for anyone in need of a good, uplifting read. The BBBB also raises funds for cancer charities.

Stephanie, 38, who has blogged her dance with breast cancer since 2008, says, “When you are ill it’s hard to engage with dark, depressing narratives. Books that lift the soul – whether they are romantic, or funny, or just different – can make a tough time more bearable. I stopped reading altogether after my operation, until someone gave me a Georgette Heyer novel. It made me realise that it wasn’t the reading but the type of book that was the problem.”

Her idea struck a chord with many writers and publishers who have donated books to this new project. The first BBBB giveaway, of over 30 books for adults and children, includes signed books from Katie Fforde, Sue Guiney, Marie Phillips, Tamsyn Murray, Sue Mongredien, and Lucy Diamond. Publishers from giants Transworld and HarperCollins to small imprints Roast Books and Little Tiger Press have also got involved.

The way that the BBBB works is simple. Readers – and they don’t need to be people with cancer, just anyone looking for an uplifting read – visit the BBBB giveaway page and leave a ‘pick me!’ comment with the name of the book they would like. If they would like to, they can also make a small donation to one of Stephanie’s chosen charities, Cancer Research UK, Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, and Breast Cancer Hope, although this is not compulsory. On 31 May, winners will be drawn at random and books sent out.

Caroline Smailes, whose forthcoming novel “Like Bees to Honey” will feature in the next BBBB, says, “ Words and storytelling can lift us all into a better place. This is an inspiring project, one that is full of heart and purpose. I am honoured to be involved.”

Katie Fforde, writer of witty romantic fiction, says, “I support BBBB because my whole reason for writing in the first place was to cheer people up.”

Tamsyn Murray, author of fiction for young adults and children, notes that “I love the idea of BBBB – during my last hospital stay reading helped take my mind off the reason I was there. Hopefully, my book will help someone else.”

To find out more about the Bah! Brilliant Book Bonanza visit www.bahtocancer.com/bbbb. To request a book go to May BBBB.
The BBBB happens quarterly. The first one opens today.

Stephanie’s book giveaway lasts for the whole of May, and she will be stopping by a little later in the month to answer a few questions. As well as putting in your request for a free book on the Bah! Brilliant Book Bonanza, why not let us know any uplifting books that have helped you get through tough times.


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As October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I thought it would be good to take a look at our awareness of how breast cancer affects a partner in a long-term relationship.

Needless to say, it is devastating to find out that your wife or partner has breast cancer – but what are the biggest issues, the best ways to cope, and are there any positives?

I spoke with Dave Balch and John InDelicato, both of whom have supported their wives through long and arduous journeys with breast cancer. They were both keen to stress that one thing that had helped them to cope was to be fully involved in their wife’s treatment, in finding out information, gaining second opinions and being there for each chemotherapy session. This had a huge impact on both their lives. John felt he had put his career on hold as his wife’s health had to come first; a decision which came with financial implications. Dave found it difficult to continue running a home based business, but had to find a way to do that in order to both protect the family income and meet the additional bills that cancer brings. These issues bring with them immense stress, which affects concentration in other areas. “My wife had the chemotherapy, but it was me who had the ‘chemo-brain’,” says Dave, describing the juggling act he performed with his work and managing his wife’s treatment schedule.

The kind of involvement that these men had with helping their wives get well takes an immense amount of time. Other responsibilities must be taken care of, with the help of others. For John this meant balancing his work, caring for his wife, assuming greater caring for his young children, sometimes accepting the help of loving friends and family; for Dave there were the demands of a business, planning his wife’s care and an extensive menagerie of animals needing loving attention. The advantage of this involvement, though, is a deepening of their relationships. Both got to know their wives at a level most of us hope not to have to reach, and they were in awe of the spirit, humour and courage these women displayed.

Breast cancer also brings with it the inevitable issue of sexuality. In a healthy loving relationship, self-image has a large part to play in intimacy. As a woman, I am aware that my breasts affect my image of myself as a sexual being – and so I can imagine how losing those breasts would challenge that self-image. John’s wife Donna had undergone a double mastectomy as a result of her second bout of breast cancer, and been told that her slight frame meant there was no option of reconstruction. As a couple, they felt they had put this behind them, just being grateful for Donna’s survival. There were times, though, when Donna would be distraught at the lack of ‘a bump’ for her clothes to hang from. It was with amazement that they then discovered the option of reconstruction using donated tissue known as Alloderm. There was no question for them as to whether Donna should go ahead with the procedure, and the results have been fantastic. “I feel that I’ve got my whole wife back,” says John, “and I can tell she feels the same from the feisty looks she gives me.” John would encourage other husbands to support their wives in having reconstructive surgery, but not for their own needs. “It’s 90% for the wife, as it allows her to put a full stop on her cancer experience and gives closure.”

One thing that’s for certain is that life after a wife’s breast cancer will never be quite the same again. There will be a ‘new normal’. The quality of this new normal depends on the way the husband coped during the illness, and how well the couple communicated. There can be an immense amount of learning and growth in this journey. John found that he had grown in his ability to deal with and speak about his emotions. Dave felt that the coping skills he developed were so important that he will be sharing them through his soon to be launched Coping University (www.copinguniversity.com), which will support anyone coping with serious illness in themselves or their family. It seems that ‘life is the best teacher’, and many will be able to benefit from the insights he gained.

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Hello and welcome

Hello, and welcome to my blog Life in the Cancer Fallout Zone. I am very glad to see you here, and look forward to ‘talking’ with you over the weeks and months to come.

My name is Anne Orchard, and my journey into the Cancer Fallout Zone began way back in 1991 when my mother was diagnosed with secondary brain tumours. I felt lost and alone, even in a crowded room. After my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, I realised that I had come to terms with my mother’s illness and death. I also saw that families and friends were still being deeply affected by a cancer diagnosis. This led to the writing of my first book, ‘Their Cancer – Your Journey’, which acts as a guide on this most unwelcome path we come to tread. This is my way of giving something back, and turning what I experienced into a force for good in the world.

So now I spend my time looking for ways to find the positives amongst the stress and anxiety of supporting someone who has cancer. I run an online support organisation, Families Facing Cancer, and give workshops and talks to those who want to know more.

In this blog you will find a variety of posts. I will be reviewing books I find of interest, both related to cancer and to life in general. I will share items of news that provoke me in one way or another. And I will reflect on the learning and humour we can all find in everyday life. I hope you will share with me, too. I want to know what hopes get you out of bed in the morning, and what fears lurk in your darkest nights. Together we can explore this frightening landscape, get to know its ups and downs, and feel less alone on the journey.

I love to get feedback and comments, and will answer as soon as I can. If you have any big issues or questions you would like us to explore together, then please send me a message. In dealing with this challenge in our lives, it is communication that keeps us going, so let’s talk.

Although this blog is new, I have been writing in the past on my blog at Amazon. If you want to check out what’s been said already, feel free to visit this link.

I look forward to hearing from you.


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