Cancer survivor launches book after double diagnosis

John Elm Music to my Years

John Elm is donating money from sales of 'Music to my Years' to Cancer Research UK. - Credit: John Elm

An author who grew up in Hatfield is raising money for Cancer Research UK through sales of his new book, after being diagnosed twice in two years.

John Elm released ‘Music to me Years’ in late October to fundraise for the charity, deciding to take on the project after his own battle with the disease.

In 2012, John was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and then liver cancer just a year later.

He has now released his memoirs, looking back at life in 1960s Britian as the nation went through vast social and cultural changes, with music of the era providing the soundtrack for the book.

“The idea of writing a memoir began as little more than a notion round about my 60th birthday,” said John.

“But it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with cancer that I became more resolute in pursuing the idea.

“Most importantly, I wanted to use the book as a means of raising funds in recognition of the science and caring that has kept me alive.”

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“The memoir, ‘Music to my Years’ takes the reader on a journey through the life of a baby-boomer, a journey that has borne witness to post-war austerity, the swinging sixties, men on the moon, Britain at war and a technological revolution.

“It’s a journey fashioned by dramatic social and cultural changes, not least in the evolution of popular music, and it is this that provides the soundtrack to my memoir, from a self-conscious 11-plus failure to successful professional career, right up to enforced retirement and battle with cancer.

“For any child of the 1950s and 60s, I hope it will be an entertaining and moving reminder of a special period in our history.”

The former pupil of both Green Lanes and Onslow School in Hatfield began his working life with Herts County Council and Stevenage Development Corporation. 

Qualifying as a landscape architect, he won a medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1996. He also became one of six featured designers in the BBC’s Small Town Gardens show in 2003.

John Elm’s ‘Music to my Years’ is available to buy online and in stores now.