Sophie Sabbage’s brain tumours returned two months ago for the fourth time, but she is resolute in not letting fear become all-consuming. Indeed, the mother of a nine-year-old girl, who was first diagnosed with terminal lung cancer five years ago, has always vowed to tell her daughter when her time comes, to diminish any incomprehensible fear she may have about her sick mother.
Image from the Daily Telegraph
Whilst she envies her daughter’s power of acceptance, Sabbage is a self-proclaimed expert in retreating from imaginary, hopeless situations like ‘Game Over’. Crucially though, her situation is critical. Five years of treatment, including an eight-hour targeted radiotherapy situation, have not offered any hope of remission. It is surprising then, that she is grateful to her cancer for ‘awakening her spirit’ and ‘emboldening her resolve’.
Indeed, her disease has to some extent inspired her to write her book The Cancer Whisperer, after her initial diagnosis in 2014, to help patients better understand cancer and fully confront their fears. Sophie’s book has thus proved an invaluable asset within the cancer community, and empowered patients in a similair situation to her own.
For thirty years, Sophie has been teaching people how best to confront these ‘lifeshocks’, i.e. when our worst fears morph into reality. With these most recent tumours, she experienced a lifeshock of her own. From her radiologist’s initial report, it appeared that the cancer was in the lining of her brain (meninges), meaning it couldn’t be treated with precisely targeted radiotherapy. However, this was just a prognosis, and from this ignorance she sought freedom from this ambiguous reality.
After her brain scan was forwarded to her neuro-oncologist, it transpired that the cancer was not in her brain’s lining, and she was once again approved for targeted radiotherapy. At the same time, she was advised to switch from oral to intravenous chemotherapy, but upon noticing that the cancer was not mutating, declined this advice, and instead opted (with her oncologist’s agreement) to up her oral dose, to get more treatment past the blood brain barrier.
Determined to battle her disease in style, Sophie then bought a pair of sparkly trainers to raise her spirits. Sophie attributes her current existence to her breadth of cancer knowledge, after discouraging two neuro-oncologist’s from performing whole brain radiotherapy, which can damage healthy tissue, on her in 2017. Despite targeted brain therapy last week, she continues to track developments in the world of cancer research, including conference data. For her, this work enhances her soul and creativity. Sophie’s account is inspirational and proves that we can find light in the darkest of places.
Sophie Sabbage is the author of The Cancer Whisperer and Lifeshocks: And how to love them. Her TEDx talk about grief is available on YouTube.