Dyslexic cancer patient writes debut novel at 72

Denise Lunt
Denise Lunt

A Wigan woman who has battled dyslexia and cancer has achieved her childhood dream of writing a book.

Denise Lunt wanted to make positive use of her long road to recovery by penning her first novel during her treatment time.

The 72-year-old from Hindley Green has now even pledged to donate a portion of the profits from any successful publication of her book to The Christie.

Goodnight Mr Stone tells the tale of a family of lawyers, the Stones, taking place over four years at Harvard University.

Denise, who is currently in remission, said: “It is a beautiful story. It’s a love story. But there’s also a bit of murder, and a bit of blackmail.”

The aspiring writer drummed up enthusiasm for the story while in hospital, giving out new drafts to doctors and patients.

“People at the hospital would come and read little paragraphs and chapters and say: ‘wow, we would love to read the book, we can’t wait for it to be finished.’”

Denise’s literary venture may well have come a lot sooner, had fate not intervened.

She described herself as “quite clever” as a schoolgirl until she knocked down by a bus.

“I could still read, and speak English beautifully. But I was always regarded as a dummy because I couldn’t spell anymore,” she said.

And then, two years ago, Denise received the awful news that she had cancer.

She said: “I collapsed in the garden and fractured my pelvis, and they found a tumour during my scans. It was inoperable, so I was sent to The Christie. I suffered with pneumonia, and even blood clots.”

Denise said completing the novel in such a dark time of her life, made the moment even sweeter. “I’ve worked so hard on this book. It’s so sad to battle dyslexia. And with having cancer too, my lifelong achievement of wanting to write was a huge battle, but one I now feel I’ve won. It goes to show, don’t ever give in.”

But the hard work isn’t out of the way just yet. Denise is now calling on Wiganers to help proof-read and critique her novel to make it as engaging as possible.

“Everyone has been so kind in helping me. Now I’m just trying to polish it. If I could get people to read just a couple of chapters and see what they thought, it would be lovely.”

Of her wanting to use the book to help The Christie, Denise said: “It’s so isolating when you find out you have cancer, but the support they give you is phenomenal. I want go give something back.”

Anyone interested in helping to proof-read the novel, ring Denise on 01942 515172.