Marking Time – A Chronicle of Cancer by Valerie Volk– Book Review

Everybody is touched by cancer – be it family, friends, or acquaintances. Marking Time is a wonderful collection of verse that describes the first diagnosis through the stages to the hoped-for remission. Most beautifully written, it is deeply moving in sadness, patience, loneliness, and hope.

The ‘Book Club in the Mallee’ has had some of its members read and then pick the poem that spoke to them the most. The following are some of their thoughts.

Cancer Gardening

As I sit here in the sun looking at my ‘sun-baked bricks’ I see the weeds between them. These are much too small to pull out, so I will spray them. I can relate to this poem of Valerie’s as she scrapes and tugs at the weeds. But her thoughts are elsewhere, as she thinks of her loved one in the cancer ward dealing with chemotherapy hopefully destroying those cancer cells. She relates the weeds to the cancer and if she pulls the weed out totally – that’s victory! BUT if the roots break, that’s different – some cancer is left behind. Her neighbours see her on hands and knees and her folly of pulling out the weeds instead of spraying, but Valerie sees each weed that comes out whole as a victory. Another cancer cell DEAD! J.T.

Little Demons

Very well written. Sums up cancer well, and the feelings it brings. The word ‘incredulous’ is particularly descriptive. B.F.

Quo Vadis

Where are you marching?
Where are you going?

I particularly like Quo Vadis as it, in a way, describes life. We need each other, as life is an uncertain sea, we don’t know where the currents will take us … but we are stronger together … with our family, friends and community. The future is unknown, and at times we are like children afraid of the dark, but we need courage to overcome and face challenges … as Mark Twain says: ‘Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear’. M.S.

A beautiful book of poems full of special meaning for those going through the ravages of cancer. I couldn’t pick just one. The tears just flowed. A.H.

Evening at Home

A poem of peace. A poem of relief. A poem of happiness. A poem of looking ahead with confidence. A poem of gratitude to God. Thanks. J.E.

 Copies of this book are available from the author. Contact her at

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