Peter’s pen is mightier than sword

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Things to do when you are told you are going to die: No. 1: Write (and hopefully publish) a trilogy…

Peter Maley has been writing since he was five years old. He used to write on old newspapers as a child when he couldn’t get hold of proper paper; such was his desire to tell stories.

Peter has incurable cancer, knowledge that he and his family have been living with for many years. And now he wants to tell two very different stories; one is the story of Tom Wolfe, a historical fantasy-come-detective story; and the other story is a deeply personal one about his experience of cancer.

Ten years ago Peter was being treated for cancer of the thyroid. It was during time spent in isolation on the ward whilst receiving iodine treatment that the idea for the story of Tom Wolfe came to him.

Four years later, when he was told that there was no cure, he embarked on a creative surge of writing that continues to this day. He said: “Cancer is not the end. It can do the opposite. It can motivate”.

These are the words that Peter said to himself when he was told that he could not beat his cancer.

“I set myself a goal,” says Peter, “a seemingly impossible goal that I would complete a trilogy.”

The first book, The Lost Gods, is already available to buy online, while the second book is currently being typed up by one of Peter’s friends from his handwritten notes.

Three months ago Peter became very ill. He was so ill that he cannot remember the ambulance arriving.

He was taken to The Margaret Kerr Unit, in need of their specialist care, and in his own words, he “got fixed again by the inspirational team of nurses and doctors”.

From being so very poorly, he simply could not believe that he was well enough to be discharged. And being given the freedom to go home was the motivation Peter needed to finish the final book in the trilogy.

Despite no longer being able to read, barely being able to see and only just being able to write, Peter has been getting up early every morning and writing. He has been so driven that his wife and children have asked him on more than one occasion to slow down!

His cancer means he can become muddled and forgetful, however, an irony is that the cancer has also made him far more reliant on his memory when it comes to story telling. The final chapter of the third book in the trilogy was completed two weeks ago.

Peter describes the community nurses, carers and the team at the Margaret Kerr Unit as extraordinary, professional and caring.

He added: “They helped turn me round and want to keep living. They supported me at a time when I felt that I was facing a death sentence.

“Life is about making choices that have consequence. I would like to inspire other people who are in the same position as me to find something to go after because it makes a difference. I have no idea how long I have got, but what I wish for now is to spend time with my family, perhaps embark on a new book, for which I have a great idea, and see my trilogy published.”

Peter and his family have taken the time to make all the necessary legal arrangements for his death, such as writing a will and assigning power of attorney; and they know how and where he would like to die. This means that the family can now enjoy the time they have left together.

You can meet Peter, buy his book and hear his inspirational story at the Borders Book Festival. He will be in the Margaret Kerr Unit tent on Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15.

z If you can offer help with the publishing of Peter’s books, please contact NHS Borders Communications department on 01896 828287 or 828261. Or email: communications@borders.scot.nhs.uk