Cancer Times: Hackney artist’s ‘dark and humorous’ book

Magnus Irvin in his Hackney flat

Magnus Irvin in his Hackney flat - Credit: Stefania Di Cio`

A Hackney artist has opened up about his experience with prostate cancer in a “dark and humorous” book. 

Magus Irvin, from  Finsbury Park, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012 and decided to share his story to help men become better informed and feel less isolated. 

The book – Cancer Times: A Beginner’s Guide to Prostate Cancer – is a combination of his observations, anecdotes and facts.

Magnus said: “When I first became ill, I looked for books about the subject and they were all very impersonal, quite sterile and rather depressing. 

“I wanted to write something that could give the reader hope and a positive aspect of it. I think that is important for men suffering with this.” 

The Palliative Arms from Cancer Times

The Palliative Arms from Cancer Times - Credit: Magnus Irvin

The book has its origins in letters Magnus wrote to update his friends during the first years after diagnosis.

It also serves as a guide through the confusing world of the hospital system.

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“When you go to  a hospital, it is a bit alien and you do not know what to expect. This book will tell you the route through the hospital when you have prostate cancer," said the 67-year-old.

“Writing the book was sometimes quite emotional. Sometimes the writing was tough, but strangely all the bad news was much easier to write about.

“The book helped me think about cancer and put it in prospective and enjoy life."

The chapter on radiotherapy explains the technicalities but also goes into why people should not be afraid of it. 

“You hear a lot about side effects, but the technique is so accurate these days,” he said.

Magnus created the illustrations for the book and did series of drawings and digital prints on the theme of cancer, which were displayed in New York and London galleries.

The Da Vinci Machine from Cancer Times

The Da Vinci Machine from Cancer Times - Credit: Magnus Irvin

He said: “Some are more dreamlike because you spend a lot of time in this netherworld, and that inspired a lot of it.”

His personal advice: “You need to find your own way to deal with the illness. Follow the hospital advice and do what is positive for you.”

The book is out now and can be bought on Amazon or at All profits will go to Prostate Cancer UK. Magnus has also organised an around-the-world yacht race to raise money for the charity, which was paused due to the pandemic and is due to restart next year.