Pic: Hugh Williams with bone marrow transplantation clinical nurse specialist Cassandra Reid, Dr William Stevenson and Prof Ian Kerridge at RNSH

A Mosman man who was treated for cancer at Royal North Hospital has given an extraordinary gift to his fellow leukaemia sufferers – a beautiful and comprehensive guidebook on how to manage the disease.

Hugh Williams, 64, was diagnosed four years ago and has been successfully treated – including receiving a bone marrow transplant – through the hospital’s cancer centre.

His book “Managing Leukaemia: A Patient’s Perspective” contains invaluable advice on everything from dealing with the shock of the diagnosis, how to break the news to family and friends, deal with practical issues like insurance, and cope with numerous hospital visits and stays, and medical appointments.

Mr Williams produced the book with the help of his niece Alana Sargent, a graphic designer, and paid to print 1000 copies to donate to the cancer centre, where it is available at no cost.

“I wanted to help this wonderful hospital, its dedicated staff and also its patients – this was my way of giving back,” Mr Williams said.

“My initial goal was to help people at a practical level by giving some tips on how to prepare and get organised because that is critical to the success of our treatment.

“Then I realised it might help to explain how I have managed the many other complex challenges we confront. There is a lot involved and this is something that I, like so many others, have had to learn along the way.”

Professor Ian Kerridge from the hospital’s haematology department said Mr Williams had written an invaluable guide.

“This is a very rich and personal story about how one person coped after being told: ‘You have leukaemia’,” Ian said.

“It tells the story of the impact of serious illness on a person’s life, family, work, friendships, hopes and dreams.

“It’s also a guide to some of the things doctors and nurses often don’t talk about – including how to talk to friends and family, the importance of being organised, and how to cope with anxiety, disappointment and uncertainty.

“Importantly, it talks about how to retain and discover meaning and happiness even in the face of leukaemia.”

You can read a digital version of Hugh's book here.

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