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Talking Point
December 2001
In this issue:

President’s Report
Nat. Assn. President’s Report
Book Review: Shattered
President’s Annual Report
Support Groups

Book Review

Shattered: A Champion’s Fight Against A Mystery Illness by Peter Marshall with Nick Kehoe

Book review by Skye Yuill

Shattered: A Champion's Fight Against A Mystery IllnessPeter Marshall was the second best squash player in the world and poised to take the number one crown when the effects of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome dramatically altered his life.

Together with sports journalist Nick Kehoe, Peter Marshall has put together an autobiographical look at his career in squash and his battle with CFS.

If you are looking for a comprehensive guide to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that documents research, causes, treatments and self-help techniques then this book is not for you.

However, the author does have an excellent understanding of how the illness can effect sufferers and CFS sufferers will be able to relate to many aspects of Peter’s journey.

Some of the areas that Peter discusses are the importance and relief of getting a diagnosis, finding a good doctor, self-researching the illness, the problems associated with having a hidden illness, the self doubt and anger associated with being told that what you are suffering from is psychological, the conflicting mental thoughts that arise with receiving conflicting doctors opinions and the loss of faith in the medical community and in making a total recovery.

Peter does a good job of articulating the frustration of having tried numerous alternative and conventional treatment regimes that despite their high cost yielded no benefits.

For instance,

“I was desperate for a cure. Some of the alternative therapists I had encountered were conscientious and professional, but all to often they would glibly dole out advice and then sting me with a 500-pound bill for something that did no good at all. That’s a lot of money when you’re not earning. Even more damaging was the frustration of having my hopes built up only to have them come crashing down again.” (Marshall and Kehoe, 2001, p. 122).

Peter found nothing that he tried worked. He believed he had to find his own answer and come to some sort of acceptance of the illness:

“With something as uncertain as CFS, you find yourself going round in circles without ever being able to reach a definite conclusion that you can accept and which provides you with any real help.” (Ibid, p.137).

I found Peter’s comments about the psychology of having CFS to be very insightful and I found that he is very much in tune with what sufferers go through. For example he discussed the difficultly associated with explaining his condition and the reactions he would get,

“Ill? You don’t look ill. You look really well.” (Ibid, p.106)


“You look okay so you must be okay.” (Ibid, p.106).

Although CFS plays a major role in the books content, I found a great deal of the book wasn’t about CFS.

Marshall has a scholarly knowledge of the game of squash. This is on display throughout the book and is emphasized the most during his anecdotes of historical squash battles. If you are a sports fan or in particular a squash fan I think this book will certainly appeal to you.

I believe the book will also satisfy any reader who wants to be inspired.

Peter Marshall is obviously a very courageous and determined individual and this is no more evident than when he refused to take a quarter of a million compensation payout from his insurance company as a result of his four-year illness with CFS. Despite still being very limited and restricted by the illness he choose to decline the payout which would have ended any future prospect of him playing professionally. Peter took a huge risk and eventually fought his way back onto the squash court and took the winner’s trophy at the British National Championship in 2000.

As a sufferer of CFS myself Peter reinforced some truths about having CFS that I am aware of but still learning as I attempt to recover.

With CFS it is important to stop pushing, to take breaks and rest and learn moderation in all aspects of life. It is also important that I accept my current limitations and perceive resting as an essential part of recovery and not some sort of indulgence I should feel guilty about.

In summary the book is easy to read, enjoyable and I found it offers some valuable insights on living with CFS.

* * * * * * * *

The book can be ordered from Australian bookshops if people provide the following information:

The title is Shattered: A Champion’s Fight Against A Mystery Illness, by Peter Marshall with Nick Kehoe.

It’s published by Mainstream, Edinburgh and the ISBN number is 1-84018-395-0.

Copyright 2001. Mainstream Publishing.

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