Patting the Shark

Tim Baker was living the dream. A best-selling and award-winning surf writer with a beautiful family, a lifetime of exotic travel and a home walking distance to quality waves. That all changed on July 7, 2015, when he was diagnosed, out of the blue, with stage 4, metastatic prostate cancer. So began a descent into the debilitating world of aggressive cancer treatments and a fight for a survival as brutal as any big wave hold down.

Tim writes candidly and with a raw vulnerability about this perilous journey through chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation and surgery, and his own determined lifestyle strategies to maintain mind, body and spirit. Happily, surfing provided one of his most powerful forms of therapy, and writing about his experiences has proven deeply cathartic.

Patting The Shark documents Tim’s efforts to navigate his way through the maze of conventional and supportive therapies – meditation, diet, exercise, emotional support, counselling. Ultimately, it is a desperate plea for a more integrative approach to cancer care, treating the whole person and not just the cancer, allowing cancer patients a sense of empowerment and agency in charting their path through treatment.

This is a story about facing your mortality, staring down your fears, and working out what really matters in life, when so many elements of your identity are stripped away. It offers hope, comfort and empathy for anyone facing a cancer diagnosis and their loved ones.

“Armed only with the hand-held weapons of the writer: observation, empathy and language, Tim Baker stares down a foe so big it could block out the sun: our own mortality. This is about more than the fight to go on living. It is about extracting meaning from that living, and finding peace where chaos threatens. This is brave writing, and essential reading.”  Jock Serong.

“Patting the Shark is no ordinary man-gets-cancer-finds-hope story. It’s a raw and unflinching revelation of our fallibility and weakness in the face of nature. It’s at once an inoculation against false positivism, but a tonic for realists who may need assurance that life goes on, though death may beckon. It’s a book you’ll find hard to stop reading.”  Anne Savage, CEO, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia