A virtual book club set up by a teenage cancer trust workers has inspired the development of a character for a new novel.

Cathy Cook, the Teenage Cancer Trust youth support coordinator, founded the West Midlands Teenage and Young Adult Book Club in 2020 to offer young cancer patients an escape from their daily concerns and to help them feel less isolated.

Since then, the club has been joined by four authors, including Cynthia Murphy.


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Murphy, herself diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, used the group's knowledge and shared experiences to help construct a character with cancer for her new book, 'Signed Sealed Dead'.

She said: "I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and went through nine months of treatment.

"Talking to the members of the book club helped massively with this, as I could chat with them about their experiences too."

Murphy has drawn on her own experiences and emotions during her treatment to create the character, capturing shared feelings of fear and uncertainty faced by cancer patients.

The book club, which has seen its membership double from three to six, consists of teenagers and young adults who are newly diagnosed with cancer, undergoing treatment, or have completed their treatment.

Ms Cook, who works across University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Having a virtual book club means that someone can join us whether they are at home, in hospital, at university, in bed, having dinner, or even out of the country."

The book club meets every two weeks and reads around four books each year.

Ms Cook said: "We first meet after reading two chapters to discuss thoughts on the book so far, and then agree how long people would like to take reading to agree a date to meet once we have all read the book".

One of the book club members said: "I love book club because I find that listening to everyone’s interpretations of the book is really interesting.

"It’s a really great opportunity to get to know new people and read books I wouldn’t have read if it wasn’t for book club."