Te Puke's Angela Leigh has fulfilled her late husband's wish to write a book to help friends and family of the terminally ill.

Jeff's two-year battle with cancer ended in 2012.

''Over that two years, we really noticed that people didn't know what to say, didn't know what to do,'' says Angela.

''It was Jeff's desire to write a book about it. He'd only made a couple of notes in his journal, but he did give me the name of the book which was great because that's the thing I would have struggled with the most.''


The book is called Really Sick Questions.

''That's his sense of humour.''

The book is broken up into three parts.

The first is a short overview of Angela and Jeff's story and Jeff's battle against cancer. The second tackles six of the most common questions people struggle with and the third is about the struggles and process of carrying on after a loved one passes.

Part two's questions cover things like: "What do I say?", "Should I pop round and see them?" "How do I deal with my own emotions?" Angela candidly answers these questions from her own experiences and shares snippets of what she and Jeff personally found helpful and also what they found not so helpful.

''They are just real, basic questions, but you'd be surprised how many people struggle with those things,'' says Angela.

''I've also put some things in there about what not to say - that could have been the biggest chapter - and I have tried to put them in a non-offensive way.''

Quotes and photographs are interspersed through the book.


''I've just tried to make it not so heavy.''

It was not until a year and a half ago that Angela decided she would pick up the project.

''To have written it any earlier than that, I think the wrong emotions might have come out in the book.''

Initially her plan was to write a book focusing on the questions - and her answers.

''I spoke to an editor, as I didn't know if this was going to help anyone so I just wanted someone to have a bit of a read, but he said 'no, no, no, keep going, but you need to do something about your journey''.

That became the first part of the book - the story of Jeff's diagnosis and treatment.


''He got diagnosed with bowel cancer first,'' says Angela.

''They said it was quite operable - three months and he'd be up and running.''

However, it would be a six-month wait to see a specialist.

''So the kids paid for us to go private.''

While waiting for treatment Jeff began to feel unwell, and his health deteriorated to the point where he was going to hospital regularly.

An emergency MRI revealed a brain tumour.


''He needed life-and-death surgery, there and then, so was taken to Hamilton. He then went through the journey of radiation and chemo for that.''

Even so, he was only given around three months.

When, almost two years later, there was no sign of the tumour, he was scheduled to finally have the operation on his bowel.

It was while recovering that it was discovered the bowel cancer had metastasised to his liver.

''We couldn't do anything except try chemo and we tried two different sorts and they both failed - so there was nothing more we could do.''

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Angela says it was in both her and Jeff's hearts to help people.


''It's hard for everyone - for me, I nursed Jeff right till the end and it's really hard seeing your loved one going through that. And there are senseless things that are said that are better left unsaid.

''If somehow this book helps someone who is in my situation, then that's where my heart is. [I hope] it can stop some of those unnecessary, well-meaning but silly remarks being made.''

Accompanying the book is a smaller, free booklet that only contains the text of the middle section of the book.

People can contact Angela to purchase the book via the Really Sick Questions Facebook page, or visit the website www.reallysickquestions.co.nz.

■ Angela will launch the book at The Daily Cafe this evening, starting at 6.30pm.