If, out of the blue, you were given just two weeks to live, how would you feel? What would you do? How would you prepare for the end? Who would you tell – and how?
This was the terrible position Roland Chesters found himself in in the late summer of 2006. He knew he was seriously ill – but had no idea he had both HIV and AIDS.
Luckily, Roland did not die. Expert medical help and his own determination not to give in saw him through. His life, though, had changed forever…
‘Ripples From the Edge of Life’ is Roland’s account of a life-changing diagnosis and its impact on him and those closest to him. More than a memoir, Roland’s story is not unique; ripples spread outwards, and this empowering collection gives voice to fourteen others who have survived similar traumatic diagnoses.
This book contains wisdom, hope, humour and inspiration in equal measure. It is an essential read for anyone living with a life-changing condition, and for those who support them.
Roland Chesters didn’t expect to be diagnosed with HIV.
Why would he, when he had a monogamous relationship with his partner Richard, and only had one previous partner? This personal account documents the shock and aftermath of his diagnosis. It takes the reader on a journey through his treatment, his subsequent difficulties at work and the impact of learning to live with such a shattering, life-changing illness.
Undoubtedly, Roland reached some terrible low points, but his fighting spirit to overcome is inspiring. How amazing his partner was – I think this is one of the major points conveyed – that having a loving, supportive partner, family and friends is so important.
I have enormous admiration for Roland and all the other contributors who have shared such personal experiences to help others with such openness and candour.
The latter part of the book includes the diverse experiences of men and women living with HIV. I was truly moved by all of these accounts.
My recommendation: Definitely read – 5 stars – An educational and enlightening read on the challenges of those diagnosed with HIV which facilitates discussion on the topic of life changing hidden illnesses and AIDS/HIV.
Note: Thank you to the author for a paperback copy which I was pleased to give an honest review for.
Today, I am thrilled to welcome a special guest – Roland Chesters to my blog.
His novel Ripples is based on the true life story of his inspiring fight to survive AIDS, furthermore it is a testament to the power of positivity to overcome.
I am currently reading Ripples and will be reviewing soon. In the meantime, let me introduce you to Roland.
Roland Chesters was born in the north of England to an English father and French mother and has lived most of his life in London. He graduated from the Royal Holloway College with a degree in Modern Languages and after a variety of jobs joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a language-testing specialist. Following a diagnosis of HIV and AIDS in 2006, he became a campaigner for disability rights. He is now a self-employed Disability Development Consultant and has his own company, Luminate.
Roland lives with his partner, Richard, in London and enjoys opera, classical music, theatre and fashion (his favourite item of clothing being a bright red corduroy suit). He fights boredom and normality with gusto, and says he is at his best when he’s made a positive impact on someone else’s life.
‘Ripples from the Edge of Life’ is Roland’s first (and only according to him) book.
Friday September 1, 2016
I stared out of the carriage window as the 17.53pm from Waterloo rattled towards Surbiton, the grimy sprawl of south London rapidly giving way to the leafier parts of Surrey. I could almost set my watch to the time we passed certain landmarks; shops, offices, houses, stations, parks. It was all so familiar; so horribly, boringly familiar and I felt drained and exhausted with it all.
Thank goodness, then, that from tomorrow I had a two-week holiday in the Italian Lakes to look forward to. I knew that by the time I arrived home Richard, my partner, would have packed the bags, printed the tickets and unearthed the passports. All I had to do was turn up, which was just as well because I was capable of little else.
For months and months I’d felt unwell. Nausea, poor balance and coordination, loss of control over arm and leg movements, tetchiness, extreme exhaustion and incoherent speech were all part of my daily life. I’d had test after test, and scan after scan, with no clear diagnosis of what was wrong with me. Whatever it might be, it was tearing my body and mind apart – but what was it? No-one seemed to know. I just had to get on with it.
The day before I’d had an HIV test on the recommendation of a respiratory specialist who’d been examining my lungs for nodules (which turned out to be nothing more scary than chickenpox scars). It was about the only test I hadn’t had – and the one I felt was the least necessary. Yes, I’m gay but had never been involved in promiscuity or risky sex of any kind, having had just two long-term partners. But if an HIV test could rule that out as well, it was worth doing.
I arrived home to find my mother and brother being attended to by Richard. My mother adored Richard and because she lived close by she would frequently call on us, particularly if we were going away. We chatted, and once they finished her coffee they made moves to go, wishing us a good holiday.
After the front door had clicked to I went into the bedroom, expecting to find everything I needed for the holiday ready and waiting. Except this time, there were no clothes on the bed to pack, and no suitcase in which to pack them. I went into the living room, where Richard was sitting in silence.
“Erm, don’t you think we ought to start packing?” I said. “If we leave it any longer we’ll end up in a panic.”
In response, Richard beckoned me to the sofa and pointed to the seat next to him. Puzzled, I sat down. Then he hugged me and started to cry. I was shocked. He’s a big, strong man, physically and mentally, and not given to floods of tears. What on earth was going on?
“What is it?” I asked. “What’s happened? Is it serious? Is it bad news from home?”
Richard’s family are thousands of miles away, in Barbados. But he shook his head. It wasn’t them.
“It’s us,” He sobbed. “We aren’t going away, Roland. We can’t. I’m so sorry.”
“Why? Why can’t we?”
“The specialist rang. The one who did the test yesterday. He wanted your office number, because…
“Because he said that we can’t go away. The test result came back. Roland, you’re positive. HIV+. You’re really ill. We can’t go to Italy. If we do…. you won’t come home alive. It’s that bad. I’m so, so sorry……”
Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’
“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!” – Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor)