The Cancer Whisperer author Sophie Sabbage tells us how she gained a new appreciation for life after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer
Sophie Sabbage is a bit of a rule-breaker. When she was 43, she gave birth to her daughter after she was told she would never have kids. Four years later, she was diagnosed with late-stage ‘incurable’ lung cancer, and doctors implied she would be dead within a year.
Yet five years on, Sophie has defied her doctors by being in relatively good health and has written a bestseller, The Cancer Whisperer, to help other cancer patients become less fearful of the disease.
Sophie was given her diagnosis in October 2014 after pushing for further tests when she noticed a sharp pain in her back. It was discovered that she had tumours in her lymph nodes, bones, spine and brain, as well as a large primary in her lung.
“I thought I would be dead within the year,” she recalls bluntly.
“By the time I was fully diagnosed I was unable to walk up the stairs without losing my breath, the tumours on my spine were causing excruciating pain and I was losing vision and my ability to articulate words. I started to slide that fast,” Sophie tells Live Better With.
Miraculously, within five months, the tumours had gone and the cancer in her lung had reduced by 70%.
The Cancer Whisperer
Sophie gained a new appreciation for life and her diagnosis also spurred her on to achieve her lifelong dream of becoming a writer – a profession she had wanted since she was a young child.
“I had wanted to write a book since I was 10, so it was on my ‘List of Regrets’ of things I hadn’t done in my life.”
Three months after her diagnosis, Sophie started a blog. It was her readers’ response to the blog that inspired her to write the book – which she started writing and finished in just six weeks.
Sophie recalls: “I started writing my blog, and it reached a lot of people quite quickly and I realised I was saying things that needed to be said within the cancer world.”
The Cancer Whisperer contains a “compass” that guides you skilfully through the journey that people face, including how to navigate the emotional challenges of this disease. Sophie’s aim is to help people with cancer become ‘cancer whisperers’ and by directing their treatment and relating to cancer as a teacher instead of an enemy.
Initially an e-book, The Cancer Whisperer became an overnight sensation, going straight to No.1 in several categories on Amazon. It was an instant bestseller in the UK when published by Hodder and Stoughton and was published in the USA by Penguin Random House in January 2017. It has also been translated into eleven languages.
Writing to heal
As well as the desire to help others, Sophie says her writing has helped her tremendously also.
“It’s healing for my spirit,” she explains. “I love writing, I think I am very good at it. That’s all I ever wanted to do and it took cancer for me to get on with it.
“For someone else, it might be music, or singing, or climbing a mountain, but for me, writing is partly the way I process my experience. It’s quite therapeutic. And this is my day job now.I couldn’t be happier about that. It’s probably one of the biggest gifts this disease has given me.”