Deborah Hutton Campaign: Celebrities record their cancer advice

11:48 28 March 2012

Actress Maureen Lipman was one of the famous contributors to Deborah Hutton

Actress Maureen Lipman was one of the famous contributors to Deborah Hutton's book offering advice on coping with cancer

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Deborah Hutton was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004 aged just 49. She had given up smoking 23 years previously, ran half marathons and was a self-proclaimed “nutrition nut”.

While living with advanced cancer, she wrote a book called What Can I do To help? about her own battle with illness and offering advice to family and friends about how best to help.

Famous faces from north London helped Deborah and recorded their advice in her anthology, published in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care shortly before her death in 2005.

These are their words.

To buy a copy of the book visit www.shortbooks.co.uk or Amazon.

ALASTAIR CAMPBELL, politician and former aide to Tony Blair, spent time with his friend John, diagnosed with cancer.

“I started to see that my role was to try to keep him laughing. John and I both shared a wacky sense of humour about journalism and the world around us and I saw it as my job to make sure no matter how much pain he was in, no matter how weak he was, we would have at least one minor hysteria session every visit.”

“I wanted to help John address the actual fear of dying. He said if there was one thing he asked of me, it was to make sure Ellie [his daughter] never forgot him and that Hope [his unborn child] got to know a little of him through his friends.”

MAUREEN LIPMAN, actress and writer whose husband Jack Rosenthal died of cancer in 2004.

“We found we had two sorts of friends. There are the people who say rather helplessly ‘I wish there was something I could do’ and there are the people who stick a casserole on your doorstep. You don’t need sympathy. What you need is someone who can put themselves in your place and see where the need is.”

ESTHER RANTZEN, journalist and TV presenter, who worked with a child at ChildLine whose mother had cancer.

“It’s extremely difficult to take in bad news. Cancer, even if it is treatable, is such bad news that the first reaction is to go into shock; the brain feels numb, and it’s impossible to frame questions, to sort out plans, to ask what the next steps are. So phoning a friend can give everyone the opportunity to work out exactly what questions to ask the healthcare professionals about treatment and prognosis, and the available support; all the information that seems so obvious when it’s not happening to you, but so confusing when it is.”

CLIVE ANDERSON, comedy writer and radio and TV presenter, is a Highbury resident.

“Cancer? Help! Until recently you could scarcely mention the Big C by name. Like the D***l in a Victorian novel or the Evil One in Harry Potter, it was a dreadful visitation by malign forces beyond our ken and usually beyond medical science. And only to be referred to in hushed tones. Well the science is better now and I think we are all better talking about carcinomas, tumours, chemo and radiotherapy and the rest of it. So just being there to talk about it might be the best help we can give.”

JON SNOW, journalist and Channel 4 newsreader, who did a charity bike ride to raise awareness of prostate cancer last year.

“When my friend was diagnosed with cancer, one of the first things we did was to confirm the bookings for a shared summer holiday our families had talked loosely about. At times the holiday looked all but impossible, but everyone remained committed and it became an almost emblematic light at the end of the chemo tunnel.”

Related articles

Latest Stories

The twins, who spend most of their day latched onto dad, have been named Winnie and Piglet by zookeepers ahead of this weekend’s Winnie the bear celebration at the Little Creatures family festival.

These two new arrivals, born just in time for a weekend celebrating the bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh, have been given some very apt names.

Read more
15:14
Police were called to the house of Sam Taylor Wood, seen here with husband Aaron Taylor Johnson at the European premiere of 'Godzilla' in Leicester Square in May, after the machine gun was spotted through a window  (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Sam Taylor-Johnson got a visit from the firearms squad last night after a spotter-by noticed a machine gun in her house and called the police.

Read more
Firearms officers arrested the suspect

Members of the public helped to thwart an attempted armed robbery in Whitechapel yesterday.

Read more

TOP Stories

The twins, who spend most of their day latched onto dad, have been named Winnie and Piglet by zookeepers ahead of this weekend’s Winnie the bear celebration at the Little Creatures family festival.

These two new arrivals, born just in time for a weekend celebrating the bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh, have been given some very apt names.

15:14
Police were called to the house of Sam Taylor Wood, seen here with husband Aaron Taylor Johnson at the European premiere of 'Godzilla' in Leicester Square in May, after the machine gun was spotted through a window  (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Sam Taylor-Johnson got a visit from the firearms squad last night after a spotter-by noticed a machine gun in her house and called the police.

Firearms officers arrested the suspect

Members of the public helped to thwart an attempted armed robbery in Whitechapel yesterday.

Promotions

Advanced running and training technology for beginners up to elite athletes

If you’re thinking of adding running treadmill to your fitness routine, you’re on the right track! There are several advantages to running on a treadmill versus running outdoors.

Renault-Zoe

The Renault ZOE follows on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the ZOE was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

When no simple way to find Real Ale was at hand, 4 Ale enthusiasts got together to allow anyone with a smart phone to find Real Ale no matter where they happened to be, this was the birth of the Perfect Pint app.

London Bloggers

Tue, 11:01
Don't waste any of your harvest

If you are now inundated with ripe tomatoes, juicy green beans, berries and herbs, don’t leave them to go stringy or mouldy because the freezer can go a long way to making your crops last well into winter.

Friday, August 22, 2014
It turns out painting is the perfect thing to do in bars

I’m somewhat of a casual, lazy and very much amateur painter and after a busy day at work, the prospect of getting all my brushes, acrylics, water and other faff out is far from appealing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Will the relaxtion of the rules on phone use open the floodgates to selfie madness at The National Gallery (Picture via Getty)

Will the National Gallery become selfie central after it removes the ban on photography to avoid confusion over visitors using the new Wi-Fi?

Quizzes

Amy Winehouse's second album became a classic

Are you an Amy Winehouse superfan?

Read more
I'm only going to say this once: Stand. On. The. Right.

James Bond is Britain’s most famous secret agent, and the capital is its most famous city, so it makes sense that 007 would live and work here when he isn’t gallivanting around the world.

Read more
Can you find the animals hiding in London station names? (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

You may not realise it but there are animals hiding in stations across London? Play our quiz and see if you can you find them:

Read more