Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Butterfly Within

The Butterfly Within is a remarkable tale of triumph and disaster of joy and heartache.

It tells the story of a truly extraordinary woman, Rachel Brown.

Rachel was already a shining beacon of inspiration to everyone. She was a highly dedicated Special Educational Needs PE teacher, inspiring her pupils to do much more than they or their peers and family members might have thought possible.

Then there was the fact that she is also a highly successful and much decorated British Triathlete, having competed in a stunning 13 marathons in a variety of very different locations all over the world.

She also represented the UK at trhe Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Florida back in 2007. She then went on to become a GB Triathlon Age Group Triathlete and became our National Champion.

But that isn't where this book starts. It begins with two momentous events in Rachel's life. On day in 2005 she had a call from God to serve him, perhaps as a vicar. She researched how she could train to become a vicar whilst continuing her work as a teacher.

But then, a few months later, she received a diagnosis that was to change her life, a challenge that was the biggest challenge in her life to date. She was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

She wondered if she should put her idea of a religious calling on hold whilst she battled the tumour? But quickly she realised she would need to continue with both.

Rachel was convinced from the start that what was afflicting her was a brain tumour. But it took the medicinal profession a year in which three GPs and a visit to A&E blamed her symptoms on stress, on her training, on migraines.

They dismissed her concerns.  Apparently she had none of the "classical symptoms" and "looked too fit to be poorly."

During an appointment with Rachel's GP when Rachel told her doctor -as is her right under the NHS- that she wanted to be seen by a neurologist.

However the GP wanted Rachel to see an "eye man."

Rachel decided to take matters into her own hands and it took a private appointment with a neurologist to diagnose that she did, indeed, have a tumour that was growing behind her right eye.

It was a so-called benign tumour, but it was starting to press on the surrounding tissues. She decided to give it a name and so it was that Tommy became a major and very unwelcome part of Rachel's life.

She knew that her life was going to change for the foreseeable future.

She had a great support team,  there was 'her' Tim, her family and friends.

But there was something more, there was the iron will that made her a great triathlete. Rachel knew that she could use this inner strength to help her fight this new battle with Tommy.

During her journey Rachel found that there were many people who she could rely on for their support, both from her family, her friends and colleagues and her fellow athletes.

The book is not written in chapters, instead it is broken down into Parts, some very short, some a little bit longer.

It tells of the most important race in her entire life, the race to recover from her tumour.

It also tells what happened next and reveals something of her plans for the future.

Have these events changed her? Yes. And, it would seem that Rachel feels these changes are for the better.

She met a wide range of characters throughout her treatment, such as a lonely man who just wanted to play chequers, a female sex pest and some other interesting patients, all who had their own story.

It is a very well-written book and is friendly and humorous.

It is published by the Book Guild at £9.95 and can be purchased through the That's Books and Entertainment book shop, the entry to which you will find just to the right hand side of this book review.

This book is a must have for anyone who has been diagnosed with a tumour, or who had a family member or friend so afflicted.

It will also be very useful for Doctors, nursing and care staff who work with such patients and for hospital and council libraries, too.


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