WHEN Christine Conroy’s mum said she should write a book about their family’s horrific experiences of cancer, she decided to do just that.
And now Mrs Conroy, who is also a university lecturer and motivational speaker, uses her personal experiences from the book, Stitch Your Own Silver Linings, along with scientific research to create a method that will help people who are struggling with life’s challenges.
The 56-year-old, of Blackburn Road, Turton — a former Deane Grammar School pupil — was left devastated after her sister, mother and seven-year-old daughter all developed cancer within the space of nine years.
Daughter Charlotte was given just 12 months to live and Mrs Conroy and her husband Robin lost their business and savings as they desperately tried to care for her.
But Charlotte, now aged 25, battled through the disease and survived, so Mrs Conroy decided she wanted to help others using her experiences.
Mrs Conroy, who also has two sons Mitch, aged 29, and Josh, aged 23, said: “When someone in your family has cancer, everyone is affected by it.
“Before my sister Pat developed Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 1992, our family was perfectly happy. We had a good business, a big home and went on holiday every year.
“But once Pat was hit with it — which came back four times — then my daughter Charlotte, who was seven at the time, developed bone cancer in 1995. Then my mum developed lung cancer in 1999. The three women closest to me — it was like being continuously hit in the face with a cricket bat.
“Charlotte was given just 12 months to live, and those 12 months were a living hell, and because we were looking after her we ended up losing the business and spending all our savings. But her courage throughout that time was amazing. She is our hero.
“She survived, thankfully, but my sister and mother, who had lung cancer, didn’t. I call those 10 years the twilight period because it was life, but not as we knew it. I didn’t know what was going to happen from one day to the next.
“One thing I realised was how short life is, so I went to university to study art, design and history before becoming a lecturer at the University of Salford.
“I realised while doing that, I wanted to also do some personal development, so I did some additional qualifications to become a coach.
“Then two years ago I decided to take my mum’s advice and write this book. It is difficult to say ‘cancer’ and ‘positive’ in the same sentence but if someone reads just one thing in the book which helps them that day that’s all I hope for.”
Stitch Your Own Silver Linings by Christine L Conroy is published by Matador.
It is available for £10 from Amazon and various other retailers from April 28.