Our Facebook Group Head & Neck Cancer Support


The Swallows Book

This book was the original concept of Chris Curtis, chairman of the Swallows Head and Neck Cancer Support Group in the UK and World H&N Cancer Ambassador. In his chairman's report inside the front cover he states that:

Head and Neck Cancer patients have unique problems such as dry mouth, swallowing, eating and many other issues. It is so important worldwide that we come together as one voice and share our experiences to help others. 

Chris originally produced a book for UK people affected by head and neck cancer but in the last year the book has been adapted to suit Australians and New Zealanders. This Australian edition still has some stories from the UK but is mainly packed full of Australian content with three pages from us, here in New Zealand. A page about our network, my story and that of Liz Gray from Invercargill. 

The Australian connection was supplied by Marty Doyle (Brisbane) of Head and Neck Cancer Support Australia and Julie McCrossin (Sydney), media person and patient spokesperson for the Trans Tasman organisation called Targeting Cancer. Marty asked us to make a contribution which is quite exciting (we're in a book!) but the Australian content itself sounds so close and familiar that there is plenty for us to relate, to. 

Each story is one or two pages. Here are some of the headlines:

  • Bravery Unmasked
  • The Big C Picked Me
  • Coping as a Carer
  • You've been great thanks 

All the stories have a positive twist but you can feel the pain and trauma that people have been through. It's a 66 page catalogue of early warning signs, a collection of coping strategies and has one of the best explanations of HPV cancer I've read. (Pages 56 and 57).

How did the support organization fund the book?

They received funding from a company called Link Health Care who have recently joined the Clinigen Group. Below is their mission statment.

Together we are dedicated to ensuring patients across the world with rare cancers are able to access the treatment and supportive care they need.

This a picture of me receiving the books from Carlene of Link Health Care

Here are the pages on which our members appear:

  • Marty Doyle pg 5
  • Julie McCrossin pg 26
  • Our support group pg 44
  • My story pg 46 
  • Liz's story pg 51

I can't stress enough how useful it is to have these stories and articles and how moving it is to hear about other people's experiences. Types of head and neck cancer include HPV throat cancer, tongue cancer, larynx cancer and the rarer adenoid cystic carcinoma which at least two of our New Zealand members have been diagnosed with. 

You can download the book online:http://www.juliemccrossin.com/TheSwallows.pdf

If you would like a hard copy you can email me your address headandnecknetwork@gmail.com and pay $5 into our Kiwibank account.


Sorry, but I can only send them within New Zealand. (Marty or Julie can be contacted for Australian copies.) I use a courier service called Pass the Parcel which costs $4.95 to all corners of Aotearoa. The book is free. 

When I was a high school teacher I tore my hair out at the end of every year because I was the school magazine editor. I had to cajole all the sports team captains to write a report and would often receive them scribbled on the back of the daily notices. Then some stories were too long and had to be cut down. Looks as if the head and neck patients and health professionals have been more cooperative but it's much harder making a book than you would think.

I want to thank Marty for his great collection of relevant material!

Email me when people comment –

Maureen Jansen, editor of HNCSN, amateur investigator of head and neck cancer issues. Always willing to be questioned and challenged.

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  • There is a valuable contribution from a maxillofacial surgeon on page 15. Well worth the read. A great resource. Highly recommended. 

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