Kris Hallenga was living a totally normal life in her early twenties: travelling the world, falling in love, making plans. However, when she found a lump in her boob and was told that it was not only cancer, but also incurable, life took on a completely new meaning. She was diagnosed at an age when life wasn’t something to be grateful for, but a goddamn right.
Little did Kris know it was cancer that would lead her to a life she had never considered: a happy one. From founding a charity to visiting Downing Street, campaigning at festivals to
appearing on TV, and being present at the birth of her nephew; in the face of all the possible prognoses, Kris is surviving, thriving, and resolutely living.
This book might give you the motivation to appreciate your own life, it might make you realise you are doing just fine, and if needed, it might give you a kick up the bum. Most importantly, it might encourage you to reach for the glitter when shit hits the fan.
What I Thought:
I’m really struggling to ‘review’ Glittering a Turd as how on earth do you begin to critique someone else’s lived experience of cancer? So let’s look upon this as less of a review and more of an essay on why you should be reading this book immediately!
I had heard of Kris before picking up the book as I am familiar with the great work that CoppaFeel! does to inform young people about the importance of checking their bodies and to provide accurate information about cancer to all – as a regular YALC attendee, I have visited their stand, resulting in this fine picture:
But knowing about CoppaFeel! is one thing – it’s something else altogether to realise that it came about due to an inspirational young woman – yeah, I did that, even though Kris says in the book that she decidedly isn’t – and her diagnosis of incurable cancer.
The inspirational bit is not the cancer bit, the inspirational bit is that a 23-year-old decided that her experience of being a young woman not taken seriously by medical professionals should NOT be repeated. In circumstances that would have sent a lot of us back under the duvet, Kris took to a battered old van to spread the message that you should know your body, you should check yourself and that you should be taken seriously, no matter that you’re ‘too young’ to have cancer.
The subject of cancer hits hard for many people, so I’m sure that might stop some from picking up this book – I would urge those people to think again as, despite the undeniable fact that it IS a book about living with cancer, Kris’ writing is so warm and positive that it’s easy to focus on her determination to live and not just survive, rather than wallowing in how unjust it is that such a young person has that horrible, horrible disease.
This is by no means an advice manual, although there certainly is advice in the pages, it’s more a reminder that even in the midst of something bad, there can be good and laughter and connection. It’s a reminder that every day is a gift and that it’s so important to properly live.
Glittering a Turd is published by Unbound.
Coincidentally, just as I started reading this book, I learned from my friend Kirsty that she had been selected to undertake a trek in the Highlands with Giovanna Fletcher and Emma Willis, in aid of CoppaFeel! so I’m going to unashamedly plug her supporter page here – she’s reached her sponsorship goal as she’s a complete legend, but if you want to bung a few quid her way to benefit the charity, please feel free!
About the Author:
Kris Hallenga lives in Cornwall with her cat, Lady Marmalade. She and her twin sister Maren founded the first breast cancer education charity, CoppaFeel!, which raises over £2million per year, and has saved many lives. She has received a Pride of Britain Award, A Cosmopolitan Campaigner of the year award, and been awarded an honorary doctorate from Nottingham Trent University. Kris now pursues speaking engagements, writing, and dipping in the cold sea whilst working for CoppaFeel! part time. Occasionally she even finds time to remember she has cancer.
This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the publication of Glittering a Turd – check out some of the other participating blogs below:
Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.