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Sunshine and Shadows: Reflections of a MacMillan Nurse

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Latest Review:

 Book Review

Cancer Nursing Practice

 Journal for Professionals  working in Cancer Care,

April 2009/ Volume 8/ Issue 3.


Sunshine & Shadows

Author: Clare Fitzgibbon

Publisher: Encircling Publications

Pages: 225

Price: 6.99

ISBN: 9780955614002


This autobiographical account of the author’s work as a Macmillan nurse includes moving narratives of patients, illustrating how they touched her life. But this is no glossy, glamorised story. It reveals the hard work, stress and heartache of cancer nursing. That the author has survived is a tribute to her resilience, and that she has managed to capture her world vividly, is a tribute to her writing ability. I recommend it to nurses and students.

Sheila Payne, Help the Hospices chair in Hospice Studies, International Observatory on End of Life Care. Lancaster University.

April 2009

Foreword by Dr Sheila Cassidy and preface by Professor Jessica Corner, Macmillan Cancer Support “Sunshine and Shadows” follows the author’s nursing career, focusing on her time as a Macmillan Nurse.  She describes this as ‘a role most privileged’ and gives a moving and truthful account of the effects on her, both professionally and personally, of working for many years with individuals and families who faced, and sometimes lost, the battle with cancer.  The stories of the women and men she cared for give hope, courage and inspiration to all who read them.The author Clare Fitzgibbon has nursed in England and Uganda experiencing 18 months of Idi Amin’s reign.  During her work as a Macmillan nurse she was awarded the Macmillan Gold Medal and taught palliative care in Russia.  Since retiring from Macmillan she has worked for two years as a VSO volunteer along with her husband in Hospice Home Care in Uganda, where they continue to visit annually.

The feedback has been tremendous! Clarehas more talks planned and is available for a number of dates during the spring and summer of 2010. Review February 2009 ( This superb book is advertised in The Dalesman ) In her book, Sunshine and Shadows, the author manages to leave the reader with a sense of uplift and inspiration, which is remarkable considering that she is dealing with the difficult, taboo subjects of Cancer and Death.     Clare Fitzgibbon was involved with the Macmillan organisation from a very early stage and here she describes the gruelling, yet rewarding job of getting the idea of full care for the dying accepted and established. From her appointment in 1987 as the first Macmillan Nurse in her district, through three desperately exhausting years working in isolation, Clare was rewarded by seeing the embryo service bloom into the fully staffed and valued organisation we know today. In 1993, she was appointed Macmillan Regional Nurse Consultant for the North of England, a training, supportive and development role in which she was able to call on her six years experience ‘at the coal face’. Finally, she was presented with the Macmillan Gold Medal on her retirement in 1998.    By means of a series of case histories, Clare involves the reader in the very personal business of preparing those with advanced disease, and their families, for the inevitable – stories which illustrate how the bleakest of prospects can be faced given care, understanding and skill. From all points of view, the innate strength of the human spirit shines forth.    Interwoven with this main theme, the author tells us of her own aspirations and her love of Africa where she worked as a nurse both in the 1960s during Idi Amin’s regime, and later as a VSO volunteer after retirement from the Macmillan organisation. Her description of treating a Somali refugee who was suffering from cancer of the jaw will remain with me for a long time, not for the horror of the situation, but rather for the sense of loving dedication with which the task was accomplished.

   This book is the story of the successful struggle of an indomitable will against physical exhaustion and institutional constraints. 

Sunshine and Shadows is a truly inspiring read.


Contact her directly .............email: brianandclare@mbarara.net

To date over 1400 books have been sold! The book is also available on Amazon. 
Clare Fitzgibbon

Order your copy here - only £6.99 ( p&p included)

Profits from this publication will be equally divided between Macmillan Cancer Support and Hospice Africa.

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