I’ve just finished reading ‘Like a Hole in The Head’ by Ivan Noble. In August 2002 he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour, as a journalist with the BBC he decided to record the course of his illness in an online journal on their website. The book is a compilation of those articles and some of the comments that readers sent in.
In the conventional sense the book doesn’t have a happy ending, Ivan died on January 31st 2005. In spite of this I found it a heartwarming book, he captures the range of emotions as he goes from diagnosis to treatment to remission to relapse to more treatment and finally to the point of no return.
His story is interspersed with comments from some of his readers. It’s unusual for someone to share the progress of their illness so publically while it is happening. The real-time ebb and flow of the story makes it particularly poignant. I was very moved by the support and obvious concern of the contributors to his story. If you’d like your faith in human nature restored this is a good book to read.
Ivan tells his story with clarity, humour and a remarkable lack of self-pity. The lesson of the book is one that is made in many of this kind of book: Every day is precious, live it to the full.
I finish reading the book sitting on a park bench on a warm summer’s day. About 50 metres away three brothers are playing football on the grass, as far as I can tell they are about 3, 6 and 8 years old. For some reason the little boy is crying, the eldest walks over, crouches down and gives the youngest a sympathetic hug before they go off to find the football. Then the two older brothers conspire to make it ridiculously easy for the youngest to score a goal, which he does on the third attempt, they cheer and give him a congratulatory hug. Just as in the book I’ve just read, people are loving and generous. In this moment, as I watch, life is very sweet.