All in My Head by Jessica Morris review – an attempt to make the incurable treatable

Faced with a devastating diagnosis, Morris responds by doing all she can to improve the odds of survival for her, and others

In 2016 Jessica Morris was on an annual hiking weekend with friends in upstate New York when she started to feel all wrong. Being out of breath was nothing new since she was in her mid-50s, and exercise had never been her thing. What was her thing, though, was talking – and now, weirdly, she couldn’t do that either. The words were all bunched up in her head and refused to launch themselves on to her tongue. The next thing she remembered was waking up in an ambulance, her face twisted into a permanent grin, which was strange, since she wasn’t feeling remotely happy.

Within days Morris was diagnosed with a brain tumour, a glioblastoma. GBM typically rips through patients in 14 months, leaving only 5% alive at the end of five years. It is the disease that took the lives of the MP Tessa Jowell, Senator John McCain and Beau Biden, the president’s son. And, when Morris gets a definitive diagnosis, she knows that it is the one that will take her off, too: “in a nanosecond, my life had gone from one of smooth, predictable joy to one of unimaginable terror”.

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