Mesothelioma Book – Review

"Lean on Me" Cancer through a carer's eyes
Lorraine Kember (2003)
130pp.ISBN 0 646 49969 6

As Janet Craven, palliative care nurse, and Andrew Dean, palliative care physician note in their respective forwards to this book, Lean on Me is a unique and intensely personal description of a writer's responses to her husband Brian's diagnosis, treatments and final death from mesothelioma . The book also provides useful discription of the nature of pain, the usefulness of certain drugs, and the ways in which keeping a journal can assist the medical practitioner in assessing pain management. The overarching narrative, however, is the progression of Brian's cancer, and his erratic but inevitable deterioration. Interspersed with poems and excerpts from Lorraine's diary, this is perhaps the most confronting aspect of the book, simply because it is so personal. While Brian's death is factually noted, Lorraine's description of the moment is emotionally conveyed in a short poem and diary entry. The book concludes with reflections written days, weeks and a year later, on Brian's presence, and her search for meaning and love in her changed life trajectory. this is indeed a compelling read, and a useful resource for both carers and practitioners.

David Ritchie
Media, communications and Creative Arts Research
School of communicaton and Creative Arts,
Deakin University, Melbourne