Major surgery and a book launch from my hospital bed
Plus some exciting news
Firstly, hello to my new subscribers!
Doughnuts for Breakfast was featured on the Substack homepage and app last week and I gained almost 1,000 new subscribers as a result (thank you!), so I wanted to (re)introduce myself and let you know what to expect from this newsletter.
I'm a 40-year-old journalist, translator, novelist and podcast host based in London. My debut novel, Single Bald Female, is published in paperback *next week!*, and it’s a story of love, friendship, dating and breast cancer. I also run the podcast Life in Food with Laura Price, talking to a different interviewee each episode about food plus one other thing (Food and Friendship, Food and Grief, for example). You can listen to the latest episode, on Food and Identity with Mexican chef Daniela Soto-Innes, here:
I started this newsletter as a place to share inspiration and learnings from my career, whether it’s How to deal with rejection as a writer or Why the key to success is trying again tomorrow. I also share book recommendations and food musings, and I’ll be sharing future posts on how I got my book deal, how I started a podcast from scratch, and how to deal with friendship career envy.
Separately, I have a strand called Chapter Two, where I write about my experience of breast cancer. (I was first diagnosed at 29 and again at 39 last year – you can read my most popular piece here). You are automatically subscribed to both the careers stuff and the breast cancer stuff, but if you’d like to subscribe to just one, you can find instructions at the bottom of this page on how to do that.
Now for the latest…
Breast cancer update
Next week I am having major surgery to remove the large tumour from my sternum bone. Well, I say to remove the tumour, but the tumour has almost entirely gone, thanks to an amazing combination of drugs. Instead, they are removing the entire area where the tumour was.
In the image below right, the bright lights in my sternum show the extent of the cancer before treatment, while the left-hand photo shows how much it has reduced (the PET-CT scan works by attracting cancer cells to a glucose/dye).
Side note: Cancer research and the National Health Service are AMAZING.
NB: Please do not be alarmed (as I was) about the bright lights in my bladder and heart – this is NOT cancer. The dye collects in the bladder before you pee it out, and in the heart before it is pumped out to the rest of the body. Depending on whether your heart is relaxed and filling, or has just contracted and squeezed out all the dye, it may or may not light up.
Why have surgery to remove a tumour when the tumour has already gone?
Good question. What we can see from the scans is that the cancer has gone. BUT there is a very good chance there are still some cells lurking in there, and if I didn't have surgery to remove the entire affected area, chances are the cancer would return in the same spot. It’s a huge, life-changing surgery, but it will give me a much better chance of surviving for longer, and I am here for that.
The surgery involves taking out my manubrium (part of the sternum) plus bits of my surrounding ribs and collarbone. They’ll fill the gap with surgical cement before covering it with a large flap of muscle taken from my back, which lessens the chance of the surgery site becoming infected.
One of the downsides is that the muscle they are taking is my latissimus dorsi, and I'm a regular swimmer, in fact it's my main exercise and a great source of joy in my life. I'll still be able to swim, just not the same as before, which is sad. But, as much as I love to swim, the choice between that and death is a no-brainer.
The fact I am able to have this surgery (on the NHS, for free!) is simply incredible, and I’m so so so so grateful to every single member of staff who has treated me thus far.
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A book launch from my hospital bed
Single Bald Female comes out in paperback on Thursday 19th January and guess what? I’ll be in the hospital, recovering from the biggest op of my life. I won’t be able to get to a bookshop for a long time, so please go out and buy it, take pics and share the love on social media as much as you can.
I’ve been trying to isolate as much as possible to not get Covid before my operation, so here’s a photo of my at-home book signing with my not-so-helpful assistant, Cleo.
The exciting bit – part I
If the UK’s booksellers could take down a few copies of Spare and replace them with Single Bald Female, I’d be a very happy woman, but sadly us debut authors have to hustle for publicity.
So I’m delighted to announce that Single Bald Female will be stocked in two of the UK’s biggest supermarkets, Asda and Tesco!
This may not seem like a big deal to those not in publishing, but it’s a HUGE thing to get into supermarkets, as they only buy a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of books that come out every year. It also means my novel will be seen by a totally new audience. I won’t be able to visit any supermarkets for the foreseeable, however, so if you’re in the UK and live near a big Tesco or Asda, please go and take a pic for me.
The exciting bit – part II
I’m also pleased to announce that the paperback has a whole new chapter, with a personal essay about my most recent diagnosis and what it’s taught me about life. You don’t have to have anything to do with breast cancer to read this book, but I would suggest you read the novel before flipping to the back.
About Single Bald Female
In case you’re new to this newsletter, Single Bald Female is a novel about a young magazine journalist named Jess who is diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time as a break-up. It’s been described as ‘Dolly Alderton meets The Fault in Our Stars for grown-ups,’ and although it is fiction, it was inspired by my own experience.
Where to buy the book
I’m aware many of my subscribers aren’t in the UK, so here’s a list.
UK: Waterstones, Tesco, Asda, Foyles, independent bookshops like Read, and all the usual online retailers.
Australia and New Zealand: You should be able to find it in bookstores.
Germany: Dussmann, Thalia, online retailers.
USA and worldwide: Amazon and Book Depository.
There are loads of other places to buy it, like Shakespeare & Company in Paris and Kinokuniya in Dubai, but otherwise please try online for either the e-book, audiobook or a physical copy.
A rundown of the stuff I’m loving right now.
What I’ve been watching:
— Empire of Light is just wow. It’s heartbreaking and hopeful, and Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward are brilliant.
— Triangle of Sadness is hilarious. Charlbi Dean Kriek, who sadly died last year, is terrific.
What I’ve been eating:
— My fiancé, Mark, had never been to Dishoom, so on New Year’s Eve we put that right, visiting not once but twice, for breakfast and dinner in the same day. This, my friends, is what life is all about.
What I’ve been reading:
— Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is worthy of the hype. Six-Thirty the dog is one of the best fictional characters of all-time.
— Young Mungo. Another beautiful, sad, thought-provoking book by the brilliant Douglas Stuart. It fills you with dread but leaves you with a sense of hope.
I’ve lined up a huuuuuge stack of recovery reading for my hospital long-stay, and I’m looking forward to sharing those with you, once I’m a little better.
In the meantime, what brings you here, and what would you like to hear about? I’d love to know, so please introduce yourself below.
Good luck with the surgery Laura!
Glad to see you're making the most of life, i.e. going to Dishoom as much as possible - one of the best restaurants ever imho..
Speedy recovery Laura. Copy of your book ordered for our bookshop, Storytellers, Inc.