Me and My Shadow

memoirs of a cancer survivor

Non-Fiction - Memoir
180 Pages
Reviewed on 05/12/2024
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Author Biography

John Walker Pattison calls himself a dreamer. Born on Monday, 4th February 1957 seaside town of South Shields – he admits that he spent his school days clowning around, neglecting his intellectual chemistry, leaving school with a handful of worthless qualifications.

His childhood was uneventful. He started to work in a local shipyard until the spectre of cancer gripped his life in a deathly stranglehold and sculptured his future. It was then that his parents were told that he would not survive.

Today, he is humbled to be one of the longest survivors of cancer in the UK.

Eight years after his unexpected recovery, his four-year-old daughter, Donna, had terminal leukaemia. But, like her father, she too would defy the odds, going on to become an international swimmer for Team GB.

Pattison returned to college where he excelled and started a career in nursing where he enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the nursing ladder.

He has written dozens of articles for national and international nursing and medical press and presented lectures on all aspects of cancer management. He is honoured to have won numerous awards nationally for his work in cancer services. Pattison knows that being one of the longest cancer survivors is, his greatest achievement.

He retired from his post as a senior clinical nurse specialist partially due to chronic illnesses - there is little doubt that the crucial hinge in John’s life is his beautiful wife, June. “…Nothing is more important than family…” says John.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Me and My Shadow by John Walker Pattison chronicles the author's journey from an upbringing in South Shields, marked by football and a love for music, to his battles with cancer and reflections on spirituality. Pattison pursued welding and formed a connection to rock culture, particularly the band Hawkwind. However, his life took a drastic turn when he was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin's lymphoma. Through chemotherapy and relapse, he waded through the emotional toll of the illness, finding support in music and family. His daughter Donna's own cancer battle further tested the family's resilience. Inspired by his experiences, Pattison pursued a career in nursing and worked toward better support for cancer survivors. Retirement gave him the time and space to deepen his connection with spirituality and the Lakota Sioux community, grounded in a life full of empathy, mutual respect, and continued support for cancer survivors.

John Walker Pattison tapped into some of my deepest, secret feelings with his memoir Me and My Shadow, and while every cancer and cancer experience is different, I connected to his almost immediately. The standout to me is in the candid discussions on how illness impacts relationships and the importance of significance and support during difficult times. There is this unhealthy mentality that somehow just 'cracking on' is an indication of strength, often making it difficult to ask for help even if it is just a conversation. There is a full circle to Pattison's story of going from patient to medical staff, and as a parent to his daughter Donna who also had cancer, the moment he is faced with the prospect of telling someone else of their son's illness is heartbreaking. There are a lot of memoirs about individuals and their cancer journeys, and I'm grateful that Pattison's happened to be the one that fell into my lap. Recommended.