This is an international bestseller by David Servan-Schreiber, a noted expert (professor at Stanford University) and author whose other works have included
Living Beyond Limits and New Hope for Facing Life-Threatening Illness.
Though the author states in his introduction that "to date, there is no alternative approach to cancer that can cure the illness," he also urges people who are battling with cancer to try other approaches and not to "neglect the natural capacity of our bodies to protect against tumors." In his own life and career, Servan-Scgreiber has gone from a purely technical physician to one who encourages and explores alternative medicine. He talks frankly (and positively) about his own experience with a brain tumor and goes on to examine the research on the types of people who survive cancer and live on for long spans of time: what do they do, how are they different, from those who quickly succumb? It would seem to be the case that some people passively accept their diagnosis and other "mobilize their own natural defenses."
Diet is one means of defense against cancer, and the other is "everything that contributes to reducing inflammation." These two lines of defense are to be pursued while accepting conventional therapies such as chemo that have a proven record of conquest and cure.
The author lists a number of effective anti-cancer foods, foods that we can consume now, and foods that will help us if we do develop tumors. Green tea (with a preference for Japanese varieties), turmeric, curry and ginger (the latter also helps alleviate the nausea associated with chemotherapy), cruciform vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, garlic (a natural antibiotic), yellow veggies rich in carotenoids, which have been shown to reduce the growth of cancerous cells. Soy (in food form) has been shown to assist in the prevention of breast cancer; statistically, Asian women have a lower incidence and eat soy products regularly. Eat citrus and berries and drink pomegranate juice. And perhaps the best news - dark chocolate contains antioxidants - but the benefit is canceled when chocolate is mixed with dairy products. Select chocolate with at least 70
percent cocoa and consume a little every day.
Researchers believe that people who develop cancer have a "type C" personality. They absorb guilt and loss until they finally "sink." It is as though they were always expecting to develop the disease and when it comes, it seems like a form of retribution or a natural repetition of sorrows and shocks they have been dealing with on a small scale all their lives. Many tend to simply yield to the inevitable as they have yielded so many times before to the blows that life has dealt them. Experiments indicate that other people, a minority, feel the urge to resist the sense of helplessness that cancer engenders, while most simply are accepting their fate. The survivors are a rarer breed, those who decide to fight back.
Having a support group helps. The diagnosis of a life-threatening illness is a severe trauma and may relate back to other traumas that the patient has endured; some people may expect cancer, may secretly long to be punished and eliminated for perceived sins in their past. Talking about the fear of what lies ahead can help to make the next steps easier and can be a recuperative tool. Shamans, the author points out, base their healing on rekindling the life force. Many cancer patients develop the determination to gather their own inner forces to combat the disease. To do so, they have to overcome fears that afflict all of us - the fear of leaving our children and other loved ones, the fear of pain, of being alone, of being a burden, and of course, the fear of the unknown journey that is death.
Servan-Schreiber discusses the difference between "false hope" and a reasoned, defensive active approach to cancer survival. You can't expect to survive cancer if you insist on going on doing exactly as you did before your diagnosis, if you smoke, if you avoid testing or treatment that will help you. In order to move forward toward survival, you have to take strong positive measures to change your life in order to preserve your life. The author states, "The best protection against cancer is a change in attitude arising from a process of growth valued by all the great psychological and spiritual traditions." Embedded in that attitude are strength, insight, and gratitude.