Life Blood : Lessons from one woman who survived serious illness against the odds - Cathy Koning

Life Blood

Lessons from one woman who survived serious illness against the odds

By: Cathy Koning

Paperback | 5 February 2022

At a Glance



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I decided to call my cancer the little c rather than the Big C. I wasn't giving it that much power over my life! - Cathy Koning

Cathy has been feeling unwell for some time. Eventually her worst fears are confirmed with the shock diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. Cathy has a deep-seated aversion to medical procedures but without immediate treatment she will not survive - not a great combination. Maybe this is not going to end well.

Cathy's moving, unflinchingly honest and often humorous recollections and reflections chart her experience from diagnosis to cure and beyond. Along the way, she is admitted to ICU and placed in an induced coma, her mother dies, she undergoes a lifesaving but risky stem-cell transplant and marries her partner of 37 years.

Cathy chronicles her cancer journey for readers seeking a better understanding of what it's like to be patient trying to survive against the odds. It's for family and friends supporting a loved one, medical practitioners and patients themselves.

Life gave her lemons but Cathy decided to ask for something else.

About the author

Cathy Koning likes to re-invent herself. She briefly worked as a secondary school teacher after graduating with an arts degree from La Trobe University. As a theatre production photographer she toured Europe with Nigel Triffitt's Momma's Little Horror Show and captured shows at the Last Laugh Theatre Restaurant in Melbourne. After a stint as a cinema publicist she founded a successful gardening business and then ran a Sustainable Communities Program for two rural shires.

Everything changed in 2012 with a leukaemia diagnosis. During her long recovery Cathy turned her hand to writing and Dainty Diva, the biography of Dorothy Rudder, a Sydney soprano and vaudeville artist was the outcome. Life Blood, the story of her cancer journey, gave her the chance to reflect on what it meant to be confronted by a frightening diagnosis and the comfort she found in family, friends and access to an excellent public health system. She is currently researching her next book about a notorious American con-man.

Foreword by Dr Russell Harris bestselling author of The Happiness Trap

Industry Reviews

This book is a must read for anyone involved in Leukaemia treatment.' - Geoff Hamilton, AML Survivor

'Cathy's account of her incredible journey is an honour and a privilege to read, reminding us of life's fragility and the importance of 'eyes to the light'.

'Shared to inspire and help others, her generous and courageous spirit shines all the way through.' -  Susan Mason, The Alfred Foundation.

'Cathy's writing is both personal and refreshingly honest as she explores the good, the bad and the very ugly moments of her cancer journey. If there are questions you always wanted to ask about cancer and treatments but felt awkward doing so, then I suggest you read Life Blood - Cathy confronts all topics from hospital food to chemo brain to treatment and recovery with complete frankness and gentle humour.' -  Alex de Fircks, Writer and Blogger

'In spite of all the medical challenges, including a phobia of needles, Cathy's humour shines through in her keen observations of hospital life and the professional staff and volunteers who work tirelessly within the hospital system. Cathy's thoughtful narration and eloquent language evoke a heartfelt sense of empathy with her struggle to survive and ultimately conquer AML.' -  Jenny Le Boeuf and Tom Landgraf

'Life Blood is a bold, honest and heart-warming book, exploring the personal, practical and educational aspects of a journey through a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Cathy's writing is insightful and humorous, emotive and informative; and is a must read. It takes you into her world of the Big C, yet resonates with so many of us who know and love someone impacted by cancer. Full of wise observations and practical tips, Life Blood is a fascinating and enlightening insight into the experience of cancer.' -  Danielle Sharkey, Social Worker

'Cathy's story touched my heart. I laughed and cried at this wonderfully written true experience. I could not put it down and would look forward to each chapter, from her factual account of her time with leukaemia to the ironically amusing account of her stay in ICU, where she fantasised about ending it all, and of course so many other wonderful anecdotes. This very real account of Cathy's story is a must read, it is unique yet about something that has affected so many lives.' - Ronda Baxter

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