Sunday, 10 October 2010

Sheila Mary Taylor praises 'Conronting Cancer' by Robert Ellal to the rafters

Sheila Mary Taylor (aka Sheila Belshaw) is the author of 'Fly with a Miracle', the story of Sheila’s son Andrew who overcame a usually fatal form of teenage cancer against all adversity, and fulfilled his dream to learn to fly. Published by Denor Press, London, available from Amazon - here.

'Confronting Cancer with the QiGong Edge' - the true life horror tale of facing cancer four times.

The unputdownable quality of this book lies not only in the superb writing, but in the mesmerising balance the writer achieves between the horror of his protagonist’s journey through seemingly never ending onslaughts of cancer, and the philosophy behind his remarkable recovery.

He is not afraid to show the weaknesses of the main character alongside his strengths. He doesn’t keep you strung up on the edge of your seat all the time. He gives you an enlightened breather every now and then, skilfully juxtaposing events that are not necessarily chronological and yet perfectly fit a pattern ─ creating cliffhangers as in a thriller that draw the reader ever forward.

This book should be read not only by cancer patients, or those touched by cancer, but by everyone. For there is a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned about how by one or two simple processes we can escape the stresses of the modern world that lead to so much ill health. One of these is a simple qigong exercise, a method of exercising from the inside out, instead of from the outside in; a combination of mind, breath and body co-ordination that leads to stillness, which in turn leads naturally into meditation, and from there to the art of visualisation ─ visualising the body whole and healed, a concept so important in augmenting the very necessary highly technical treatments of cancer. The “Embrace the Tree” exercise (what a lovely title that would make), is the most important of these, and one we could all use, if only to chase away the common cold.

There is a fine line to be drawn between bravery and fear, between strength and weakness. Bob Ellal acknowledges that his usual iron will sometimes falters. He does not pretend that that it isn’t happening. This endears the reader to Bob. We can all identify with this weakness. But at the same time we are astounded at his tenacity, in his belief that he will recover, in his ability to face whatever new monstrous horror is thrown at him.

Bob’s wife Cheryl also shows great fortitude. Throughout the terror and drama of the recurring cancer, she remains strong, as do his children. In periods of remission Bob and Cheryl are able to resume a semblance of normal married togetherness. “That’s the litmus test of true love,” Bob tells us. “To sit in an empty room, say nothing and not get on one another’s nerves.” He highlights the stresses and strains of the carer, the wife who has to stoically stand by him, exercising inexhaustible strength. Cheryl is underplayed by the writer, but she shines through as a crucial cog in the wheel of Bob’s extraordinary journey.

It was a toss-up for me to decide which element of this book made me most excited: the beautiful prose, or the spell-binding content. But I suppose that in the end it is a combination of both. I love the easy conversational tone, the elegance of style, the metaphors, and the perfect syntax which gives rhythm to the prose, at times almost as alluring as poetry. But above all there is the ring of truth and honesty in every word. He illustrates graphically how great things can be achieved through being faced with the prospect of death. At so many different levels ─ physical, mental and philosophical, he concludes that the importance of good health and the achievement of it, far outweighs the material achievements that so many of us consider necessary for a “successful life”. And he gives tangible hope to other sufferers.

You can buy 'Confronting Cancer with the QiGong Edge' in paperback or on Kindle - here.


  1. A fabulous review, and a well deserved one.
    Bob's book is a must read.


  2. Very good review, but as I'd expect from Mary. I suggest not just Bob's, but Mary's too should be checked out by anyone who wants good books well written.
    Good luck to both of you.

  3. A snappy review that makes one definetly want to read the whole book.