Book Media and Reviews

Richard and Judy: Brave Sian Williams’ honest words will help so many women

In her Daily Express column, television presenter Judy Finnegan wrote about Rise: “Unlike Victoria Derbyshire, fellow broadcaster Sian Williams decided to keep her breast cancer diagnosis private.

Like Derbyshire, however, she has now gone public, offering help and advice to other women going through this ordeal. Derbyshire’s choice to post videos from her hospital bed right after her surgery and throughout chemotherapy was extremely brave and liberating for women who secretly dread getting cancer, which means all of us.

But not everyone can recover in the full glare of publicity and I suspect that if I were to receive the dreaded diagnosis I would be more inclined to follow Sian’s route. But Williams is also courageous to admit to her initial fear and panic in her new book Rise: Surviving And Thriving After Trauma.

This apparently tough and confident woman went to pieces despite the fact that she was a trained trauma assessor with an MSc in psychology. She admits that even with all her knowledge she could not find the path out of her own trauma. She felt she was a failure.

Now healthy once more, she’s written that it’s OK to have “fear, bewilderment and rage when life challenges you”. In fact experiencing that fear is an important part of recovery. Other cancer sufferers in the public eye often don’t want to dwell on their illness after recovery.

Jennifer Saunders, for example, refuses to see herself as a cancer victim, or to talk much about her experience. This is robust and brave and absolutely the best way for her. But when we are plunged into a real-life crisis, an ongoing nightmare which could end in tragedy, we need handbooks. They are extremely comforting.

Books help us to make sense of life, to feel our hand is being held and crucially that we are not alone. Sian is a wise and warm woman and all of us owe her our thanks.”

Read the full column on the Daily Express online.