South Tyneside author’s ‘brutally honest’ book about cancer battles

South Tyneside children’s author John Walker Pattison has released a very different book; a memoir about his successful fight against cancer.

His foray into non-fiction, called Me and My Shadow: Memoirs of a Cancer Survivor, sees him open up through a “brutally honest” account of his cancer diagnosis and survival.

He became a welder at 17, but just 10 months later fell seriously ill. Aged just 18 John, from South Shields, was diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. He was given a 50/50 chance of survival.

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Over the next three years he underwent three different types of chemotherapy, relapsing each time. Then radiotherapy began and he relapsed again. He was then told that nothing else that could be done and palliative chemotherapy began.

John Walker Pattison has turned his darker experiences into a memoir.

However, John defied all odds and went into remission where he has remained to this day. Now aged 64 and a granddad, he is one of the longest-surviving cancer patients in the UK.

But cancer still loomed large. Aged four, his adopted daughter Donna was diagnosed with an extremely rare adult form of leukaemia. Happily Donna also defied the odds and survive, becoming a successful international swimmer.

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John’s experiences inspired him to enter the medical profession, becoming a senior clinical nurse specialist in haematology at the same hospital that made his diagnosis decades earlier.

Having retired from nursing he then became a children’s author. His books include Strange Trips and Weird Adventures, Blenkinsop Blabbermouth and the Ghost of Broderick McCaffery. Now comes the memoir.

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Me and My Shadow: Memoirs of a Cancer Survivor can be bought online.

John said: “The aim is to offer hope and inspiration to anyone in society touched by a cancer diagnosis.

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“It is also intended as an educational resource for health care professionals, who don't always (unless they have been touched themselves by the illness) understand the psychological burden of a cancer diagnosis; a considerable load to carry.

“But moreover it was intended as a catharsis, to eliminate those demons that lay in the deep canyons of my mind. It failed to do that, and they remain firmly planted there.

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"Fortunately, my wife is always at hand and ready to top up my glass with optimism and importantly, pragmatism. In life, nothing is more important than family.”

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Me and My Shadow: Memoirs of a Cancer Survivor can be bought online. Visit