Tackling the Tumour With Humour
The Monster in Emma-Tackling the Tumour With Humour
Interview with Emma Sheils
There is a fine line between laughter and tears but when you publish your story, must be tears of joy that seal your destiny, as you connect with people you never met, including yourself. Oscar Wilde once said that “Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one.”
I always believed that wisdom is stronger than knowledge, love can cheat death, and laughter can cure your blues but little I knew that you can “Tackle Tumour with Humour”.
“The Monster in Emma” by Emma Sheils, with a foreword by Matt Lucas, tells the story of surviving cancer. Emma’s traumatic experiences as a cancer sufferer turned out to be a new chapter in her life. When she decided to “tackle the tumour with humour” and publish her story,“ an amalgamation of tales from my past and a diary of my battle with cancer, tenuously linked together and almost in chronological order.” little she knew that she will join her publisher, Donia Youssef from Tiny Angel Press, who is raising awareness that behind every cancer diagnostic is a gifted person with dreams and aspirations.
Tell us what were you doing before you started to write the book?
I have always kept diaries containing funny stories that have happened to me over the years as a student, a teacher and a mum. When the cancer came along and I was recording my temperature and side effects every day, I decided to combine the two.
What were your biggest challenges when writing the book?
I was writing for myself as a way of taking my mind off the cancer. I shared some of the stories with friends who thought they were funny and wanted to hear more. At times I didn’t know who I was writing for.Who exactly was my audience? As I continued writing, I imagined other cancer sufferers and then their friends- complete strangers, reading, emphasising and possibly laughing too.
What have you learned about yourself?
In the words of Shakespeare “ Sweet are the uses of adversity”. Although so many problems seem insurmountable at the time, as things unfold, I realise that not only can I cope, but that I still retain the ability to laugh at myself from time to time.
What would you do differently if you did this again?
I never really thought about how my family - especially my daughters felt about their daughter/mum telling the whole world their personal stories. Yes of course they are proud of me but they didn’t really play any part in the compilation and choice of the stories.
Are you planning on writing another book? If so what would you write about this time?
My cancer is in remission, there is never really an all clear. The more years that the scans come back clear,the better. I’m still jotting down tales but to be honest I hope there is not going to be a sequel to this book.
However, I have got the bug for writing. I have written a series of short stories for children - I have animals fulfilling their dreams in the competitive showbiz world!
How has the book changed the way you perceive yourself?
As yet I don’t really know. I have written a book with relative ease and enjoyed writing whilst undergoing cancer treatment and I suppose that is an achievement in itself.
What other books or authors inspired your writing style?
I have read a lot of autobiographies and comedy books but it’s the simple observations of the world that I enjoy and the way that some authors make the reader want to continue to read “ just one chapter more”. For easy reading I enjoy Catherine Alliott’s books, for adventure I enjoy Dan Brown and I simply adore the writing of Joyce Grenfell.
What is the main message you hope readers will take from your book?
That although the diagnosis of cancer is not funny in the least, it is not the end of the world. It can be a positive experience and one where the patient can emerge more confident and happier and determined to make the best of things.
What advice would you give to anyone wishing to become an author?
Write first, then afterwards decide who would enjoy and benefit from reading your work.
What would you do if you became rich and famous?
I would try and keep it as quiet as possible, for as long as possible. I’m a teacher first , a writer second. However it would be nice to be in the position to widen people’s awareness of breast cancer- the signs and symptoms, oh and recover the costs of a boiler, three tyres, a set of brake pads and a new set of wheel nut lock keys that I reluctantly paid for this year.