Cork author of a new book: I have got unfinished business with cancer

Next month, Katherine Dolphin Griffin launches a book in aid of the Irish Cancer Society and Marymount, writes CHRIS DUNNE
Cork author of a new book: I have got unfinished business with cancer

Katherine Dolphin-Griffin, at her home in Knockgorm, Midleton, Co Cork. Picture: David Keane

EVERYONE who had been touched by Katherine Dolphin Griffin stories told her to write a book. Hope to Cope is in honour of her beloved dad and to raise funds for cancer research.

Katherine shows us through her own stories that in accepting what we cannot change, we can look to the things that we can change and put our focus there.

Katherine, who is a wife, mum of two, a primary school teacher, and an only daughter with four brothers, has many stories to tell.

“I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in December, 2012,” says Katherine.

“I was 37 years old; my daughter was eight and my son was four.”

Katherine and her dad underwent cancer treatment at the same time.

“My dad had cancer five times,” says Katherine. “He didn’t survive the fifth round. He died on World Cancer Day, February 4, 2017, having battled tremendously for nine years.”

 Katherine Dolphin-Griffin, at her home in Knockgorm, Midleton, Co Cork. Picture: David Keane
Katherine Dolphin-Griffin, at her home in Knockgorm, Midleton, Co Cork. Picture: David Keane

Katherine is launching her book Hope to Cope on February 4, 2022.

“Dad died because the drug he needed didn’t launch until it was too late for him,” says Katherine, who is on a mission.

“I have unfinished business with cancer and I am on a mission to help more survivors by fundraising for cancer research in dad’s honour. I am proud to be a survivor.”

Katherine shares her coping strategies in Hope to Cope.

“I am fundraising in a way that is giving all of me, in an honest and passionate raw way,” says Katherine.

“I wanted to put as much of myself into it as possible, so I decided to write a book which shares my coping strategies that have resulted in my healing and recovery from trauma

“I hope that my feel good story of finding ways to cope with life’s challenge will help others too.”

Katherine loves to read and write.

She explains: “Doing so helps me to understand life’s challenges and discover solutions.”

Katherine faced many struggles during her life.

“Through the various struggles, I was unable to find what I was looking for in a book or find someone who has suffered in a similar way who could help or advise me.”

Katherine was left to her own devices.

“I was left to teach myself various coping strategies over the years through intervention or rather by learning through experience. I am very conscious that this might be the case for many people,” says Katherine.

“I believe that it’s important to share one’s learnings so that they may help someone else who may be on a similar journey who is a little lost right now.”

A STRONG RELATIONSHIP

Katherine was always a daddy’s girl. “We were a tag team!” she says.

“From my earliest memory I was a daddy’s girl. When we were teenagers, our mother left home. I was the only female left in a house with five males. My relationship with my dad and brothers changed.”

Katherine had a new role in the house.

“I took on the role of ‘woman of the house’.

 Katherine Dolphin Griffin with her dad Joe Dolphin.
 Katherine Dolphin Griffin with her dad Joe Dolphin.

She had a new name too.

“I was endearingly referred to as ‘the boss’ by my dad and brothers. We got on with it and life was good.”

Life went on.

“We grew up, got jobs, entered relationships and had kids. I absolutely love my brothers,” says Katherine. “They mean the world to me.”

When she was six months pregnant with her second child, her dad was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

“In 2016, dad was diagnosed a fourth time,” says Katherine.

“This time the cancer was back on the double. He had a tumour in his throat and one in his stomach. The tumour in his throat was treatable, but the one in his throat was not. It wasn’t possible to operate and there wasn’t a drug available to treat it. There was a drug coming online in October; this was now March.”

The news wasn’t good.

“Dad was told to put his affairs in order. I will always remember that day,” says Katherine.

“It was the worst day of my life. We began to hope and pray that he would survive long enough to get the trial drug, and he did. But the cancer had a firm grip on him at that point and the side effects of the drug were too great and he grew gravely ill.”

Joe Dolphin, who survived cancer four times, was a fighter.

“He had nothing left to give,” says Katherine. “I brought him to Marymount Hospice on January 16 where he died on February 4, 2017.”

It was the lowest day of Katherine’s life.

“I don’t want my dad’s memory or with it the story of this beautiful man who was deeply driven, intelligent, charismatic, warm and strong. I learned a lot from him and I am who I am today because of him. This is his story too.”

Katherine was always there for her dad.

“The only time I was unable to support my dad was when he grew gravely ill and needed to go to Marymount,” says Katherine. “I struggled deeply with handing him over.”

We can all identify with that feeling.

“It felt similar to that feeling when your child heads of to school for the first time. You realise you are not needed in the same way as before.”

There are several reasons why Katherine wrote Hope to Cope.

“There isn’t just one reason I wrote this book,” says Katherine.

“There are several. Primarily, I wanted to share my story of love and determination. I wanted to show how love really can conquer all. There are no special powers when it comes to dealing with challenges. I am going to tell my story and share my learnings from taking a pragmatic approach to life. I hope they will help you to find your path if you are a little off course right now.”

Hope to Cope was difficult to write.

“While this book has been painfully difficult to write, I have found great healing in doing so,” says Katherine.

“I am reminded of the journey, all the achievements and grievances and of the very special people that I have in my life. I have challenged myself through facing demons and letting go of pain. I learned many new skills along the way. There are wonderful people in the world who want to help and that has been humbling to see.”

Katherine Dolphin Griffin's book, Hope to Cope, which will be launched on February 4
Katherine Dolphin Griffin's book, Hope to Cope, which will be launched on February 4

Katherine went through her own cancer journey and came out the other side.

“It has been 12 months since I had surgery or a new diagnosis,” says Katherine.

“That is a celebration for me and I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life. I now have a positive thing to celebrate in February, 2022, with the launch of Hope to Cope. That will ease the pain.”

The month of February brings sad memories for Katherine.

“It has been a month that I have hated since cancer came knocking first,” says Katherine.

“My hope is that my honesty and pragmatic approach will help you identify with and relate to my story and instil in you hope to cope.”

What is included in the book?

“The book includes 16 stories or essays, each of which begins with a motivational quote, Katherine explains.

“Each essay tells a story of a challenge or a struggle that I experienced in my life. I tell what happened and the tools I used to overcome each challenge. I talk about what I have learned about myself and others and what learnings I will be taking forward with me.

“At the end of each page there is a notes page which readers can use to write thoughts that were provoked while reading it, or a list of things they want to do, or change, or to write lines that resonated with them. Or write feelings and emotions or whatever one likes.”

Katherine is proud of Hope to Cope raising funds for cancer research.

“It has been quite liberating to turn a negative into a positive and to succeed over a challenge,” says Katherine.

“I am trying to have a good life, to follow my dreams and to be a good model for my children. I refuse to let challenges stop me or hold me back from achieving that.”

Katherine has experienced all the stages of grief.

“I have never suffered from depression but having experienced the loneliness, sadness and despair that comes with grief; I can now identify with depression a little more.”

Kathrine is only human.

“I have struggled at times. I think that a lot of people can identify with that following the months dealing with Covid.”

Life throws up a lot of challenges sometimes.

“Dealing with life’s challenges doesn’t have to be the end of the world, as long as you have hope in your heart,” says Katherine.

“Hope to cope. Nothing lasts forever, not even the bad stuff. This too shall pass. Hold firm and do what is right for you. Do the next right thing. There is always hope. Try to remember to mind yourself in it all.”

Katherine has a positive message.

“Live, love, laugh and hold hope in your heart.”

Hope to Cope by Katherine Dolphin Griffin will be launched on February 4 , World Cancer Day. All proceeds to the Irish Cancer Society and Marymount. Katherine is self-publishing so that as much as possible goes to the charities.

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