The Book

Death And The Elephant:

How Cancer Saved My Life

by Raz Shaw


12 June 1995.  My twenty-eighth birthday, I was a directionless gambling addict doing a telesales job that was eating up every trace of what soul I had left. The next day I would be diagnosed with stage 4 sclerosing mediastinal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma of the large cell type.

Cancer saved my life. That’s my story. I was given the all-clear in March 1996, and stopped gambling for good that April. After a year away recuperating, I turned my back on the highly paid job that had devoured me and re-assimilated myself into the world of theatre that had once made me feel so alive.

It took me a long long time to realise quite how much these recoveries were bound up with one another – now I am ready to tell my story.

Death and the Elephant. How Cancer Saved My Life is a memoir of living through and beyond illness and addiction. Blessed with the ability to find humour even in life’s darkest moments, I endeavour to chart my struggles with irreverence and unflinching perspective. This is my story, but it’s also a universal one – an honest, funny, sometimes raw, and often inappropriate glimpse into the mind of a young man dealing with a life-threatening illness in the only way I knew how: by laughing in its face.