Reviews of CANCER: A personal challenge

Edited by Dr Bob Rich
ISBN 1-877053-12-0

Read about the book
Charlene Austin
Georgiann Baldino
Paula Bentley
Tami Brady
Lillian Cauldwell
Nowick Gray
Janis Silverman
Brandon Wilson

Janis Silverman

   Cancer: A Personal Challenge is a collection of professional articles, personal narratives about living with cancer, and articles about mind-body techniques to help cancer patients.

   The book is divided into four sections:

   As a breast cancer survivor, I found the personal narratives in part one heart-felt and very touching. Several anecdotes depict suffering with advanced stage cancers, yet these individuals all concluded in a positive manner. They affirmed that life is worth living, and that they also needed to be there as long as possible for their family members. Hope was the operative word.

   Several articles in part two were provocative and compelling. Dr. Bob Rich addressed the role of stress in the development of cancer and how we all need to learn techniques for reducing stress in our lives in order to prevent and to treat cancer. Other professional articles discussed current standard treatments, their effects and some alternative treatments.

   Part three really allows the reader into the lives of cancer patients. I found these articles revealing, brutally honest and open.

   Finally, Part Four offers comfort and healing to cancer patients. This set of articles is valuable, as they speak about various forms of meditation for cancer patients. Carl Stonier makes the case for guided imagery meditation and its many benefits, such as powering up the immune system and giving cancer patients hope. He emphasizes the value of a patient creating his own imagery to fight his cancer. Stonier recommends psychotherapy as a valuable adjunct therapy for cancer patients.

   In Part four Dr. Bob Rich discusses pain management through meditation and hypnosis. His step by step description and vivid examples explain the relaxation process and show how a patient can introduce a new idea, a different reaction to his pain. Dr. Rich also tackles the idea that cancer patients and pain patients can focus away from their pain. Patients can transfer their intentions and thoughts to something purposeful in their lives instead of focusing on their pain. Dr .Rich not only explains the value of trance. He gives the reader concrete suggestions to try while in a deeply relaxed state.

   The complete instructions for muscular relaxation are included in article 15's appendix. These steps to total body relaxation can be recorded for a patient to use. This tool is a true gift to anyone going through mental or physical stress. As a patient tenses and relaxes a muscle group, she says, "Let go." When coordinated with the breath, this is a powerful technique.

   Paul Bedson's article teaches the reader how to use meditation for healing. He teaches several excellent techniques to overcome what he labels as over-thinking. These meditation exercises may be recorded for easy use.

   Finally, Dr. Bob Rich concludes this wonderful resource book in his essay titled, "Why?" Dr. Rich discusses the many possible causes of the increasing number of cancers. He implores the reader to care for himself, avoid as many carcinogens as possible, to find and live fully in his purpose, and to work for a cleaner, healthier planet. It is in Dr. Rich's final essay that he reveals his motivation for editing and contributing to this excellent collection of information and personal insight.

   Cancer: A Personal Challenge is not for the faint of heart. Some of it is a rough ride; however, it offers insight and information to patients, their families and friends. Health care practitioners would benefit from absorbing the information and narratives. It may offer them the opportunity to walk a mile in patients' shoes. Patients reading some of the personal accounts by others fighting cancer will realize they are not walking their path alone.

   The medical information and the articles about meditation are invaluable. I recommend Cancer: A Personal Challenge to inquiring minds, those who wish to really "know" what it is like to live bravely with cancer.

Janis L. Silverman is the author of educational and counseling books. She has lost most of her eyesight, is a cancer survivor, and has other serious health concerns, yet her motivation is to help others.

by Georgiann Baldino

   Dr. Bob Rich has divided the book into four parts: hope, facts, living with cancer, and tools for fighting back. Each section builds on the others. Topics introduced in the first chapter are expanded and reinforced in the sections that follow. While reading this book I could feel and appreciate how the contributors' strong beliefs have led them to develop the coping techniques. The authors are careful to explain that a great number of self-help and alternative therapies are available. They show us the importance of choosing a lifestyle that encourages the immune system and illustrate what has worked for others. At the same time, the authors respect how vital it is for individuals to confront the diagnosis, gather the hope and encouragement already in their lives, embrace new ideas, and find things to sustain them during the struggle to return to health.

   I was glad to see that coping with cancer is also shown from a caregiver's perspective. Phyllis Phucas writes movingly about the experience of caring for her husband. Patients and caregivers alike can learn from her. She tells us, "It's frustrating to redirect a loved one constantly about everything. It's so easy to revert to ordering him around, but that doesn't work at all. I have to constantly remind myself to request everything of him, as if he could make a good decision." Her account shows a wisdom that goes beyond caring for her husband's physical needs to nursing his emotional and spiritual needs as well.

   The writing is penetrating, insightful, and intelligent. If you want to learn how to become a valuable member of your health care team, mobilize your inner healing resources, and encourage your immune system, this book is a wonderful resource. The contributors use poetry, fiction and fact to show you the truths of dealing with cancer. I recommend Cancer, A personal Challenge for patients with cancer, their friends, and family. The hope given is realistic, and the tools teach us the importance of nurturing a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Georgiann Baldino
Author, cancer survivor, and support group facilitator.

by Brandon Wilson

   In today's world, it's rare that a single family remains unaffected by cancer. It either afflicts a close member of our inner circle or that of our friends. Cancer: A Personal Challenge edited by Dr. Bob Rich is a valuable tool to help one understand the disease and its roots more clearly, while providing healing options and inspiration to both sufferer, family, friends and those in the health profession.

   Cancer: A Personal Challenge is an easy-to-understand collection of articles and stories written by eleven health care professionals, patients and survivors. The book begins by presenting the facts about cancer: its origins, environmental causes and the fascinating connections between thoughts, emotions and stress and how they may ultimately affect our nervous system and immune system. It then provides a more holistic/spiritual perspective by examining the anthroposophical writings of Rudolph Steiner and others.

   This foundation at least partially address the question: "Why me?" by suggesting we re-examine our stressful lifestyles, radioactive surroundings and chemical-laden food and water. Then this book provides useful exercises to help sufferers deal with the body's "dis-ease," as well as tools for fighting back and coping with pain.

   As a lay-person and one who has seen family and friends rage against cancer, one of the most fascinating parts of this book are the first-person stories from those who are "bloody-minded" enough to refuse to give in. Their courageous accounts allow us inside the mind of those ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down, and paint a picture far more complex than the media's single-dimensional image of "cancer victim." On the contrary, their poignant stories are ones of hope, strength and faith in becoming a survivor and treating cancer not as a death sentence, but as a challenge along life's trail-or transition along a path of ultimate perfection.

   After reading this book, I have a clearer picture of the disease than now effects 44% of men and 39% of women in the US. Moreover, I'm struck by the options and choices that each of us can make, individually and as a society, to make cancer a more remote possibility in our lifetimes. That choice is ours.

Brandon Wilson is the author of the award-winning Yak Butter Blues: A Tibetan Trek of Faith and Dead Men Don't Leave Tips: Adventures X Africa His writing has graced several issues of my newsletter bobbing around.

by Charlene Austin

Cancer: A Personal Challenge
Edited by Bob Rich, Ph.D., MAPS, AASH
Published by Anina's Book Company
ISBN: 1-877-053-11-2
Trade Paperback 202 pages $20.00
Electronic version $7.50
Available through Booksurge

   Cancer, a creeping, growing, silent shadow, an indiscriminate killer that stalks without soul. It follows no rules, leaves devastation in its path. Dr. Bob Rich has gathered a team of experts. Experts whose knowledge comes from study and research, battle scarred veterans who have fought the beast from within, and those who fought beside them. Scientists, doctors, teachers, researchers, survivors, and those left behind share knowledge, information, resources, battle strategies and techniques, stories, and support in "Cancer: A Personal Challenge."

   "Slow Dance" a poem from a terminally ill child, a fictional story here and there, personal stories of battles to survive the beast and the devastation and loss it leaves in its wake are sprinkled through the chapters of information and resources to assist you in making informed decisions and research into strategies to help build healthy life choice defences against attack, and to build your own plans of attack. Motivation, inner healing power, determination, attitude, diet and life style changes, counselling and spiritual care, medical treatment options, nursing and therapies, all are explored, explained and addressed in easily understood language.

   "Cancer: A Personal Challenge" offers no one answer, but it does offer many. And in a time when our technology and lifestyles feed and fuel the growth of this threat to humanity, knowledge, information, resources and support offer the best defence. This book explores the physical, mental, and spiritual challenges of this demon destroyer, and it offers strategies and techniques to develop your "power of three" into a weapon of strength. Professionals who study and battle and treat it, explore and explain causes and treatments and techniques. Sufferers and survivors, care providers, family and friends share their stories, their pain, their loss, their hope. This book is for everyone, everyone who studies, treats, suffers, battles, and everyone who cares.

Char is the leading light of several writers' lists I subscribe to. Go to Topica and to a search for 'Writing Road' to find us. She was raised in Zion National Park, and now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with five of her grandchildren. A medical office manager, Char has been writing since she was eleven. She has published several poems and short stories and completed a paranormal mystery novel, Dream Pictures.

by Lillian Cauldwell

Cancer: A Personal Challenge, edited by Bob Rich, Ph.D.

   Cancer is frightening. Dealing with it doesn't have to be. In 'Cancer: A Personal Challenge', individuals share their stories and experiences about handling cancer themselves, or how their loved ones handled it. Cancer is a devastating disease, but it doesn't have to rob an individual of their dignity, self-respect, living conditions, and getting on with their lives unless the individual gives in to the disease and the pain.

    'Cancer: A Personal Challenge' isn't just a testimonial to those who survived the disease, but provides information and instruction on how to prevent and work with the cancer once the individual is diagnosed with it. Knowledge is power. Power over the disease is learning how to overcome the pain and even slow down the growth of the cancer cells. Breathing techniques, chronic pain and self-hypnosis exercises are provided for those individuals interested in improving and extending the quality and length of their lives with cancer -- from their chronic pain -- from their disabilities -- from any illness that lessens your life expectancy.

   I recommend 'Cancer: A Personal Challenge', edited by Bob Rich, Ph.D. to everyone who has a family member, friend or even an enemy with cancer, or who cares for an individual with cancer. The book is especially for an individual diagnosed with cancer. It is never too late.

Lillian Cauldwell

Lillian Cauldwell is the author of SACRED HONOR -- American Historical Speculative Fiction, Spanning the centuries from 1774 to 2276. She also hosts her radio show. She has lost loved relatives to cancer, and has found the book helpful for her own pain-related problems.

by Tami Brady

Cancer: A Personal Challenge
Edited by Bob Rich, Ph.D.
ISBN: 1-877053-12-0

   Cancer: A Personal Challenge is both a guide and an inspirational resource for those dealing with cancer. This book contains four parts: There is Hope, The Facts, Living With It, and Tools For Fighting Back. The first and third parts of this book are composed of stories written by those touched by cancer. These accounts express the frustration, anger, pain, guilt, defensiveness, anxiety, and self-pity that are felt by those suffering from this disease and those that love them. At the same though, these narratives illustrate inner strength, courage, and the healing power of love and hope.

   The second and forth part of this book are much more technical and scientific in nature. The second section explains the technical aspects of the various types of cancer and states the statistical survival rates of such. This information reiterates the importance of early detection and the value of stating personal end of life care wishes.

   The final portion of this work is also very detailed. This section examines the various alterative and holistic therapies for cancer. In particular, this section looks at the connection between psychological processes and the immune system; the role of stress in reducing and fighting various forms of the disease; and the benefits of meditation, guided visual imagery, and hypnosis in reducing pain and fear associated with cancer.

Tami Brady
Co-Dean: School of Religion and Spirituality, Suite University
Community Manager: History & Government Community, Suite 101
Author of The Complete Being

by Paula Bentley

Paula Bentley is Assitant Editor of the British psychotherapy magazine Ipnosis. When you read her review, you'll see that I somehow pushed her buttons, so much so that (in my opinion) she entirely misread the intent of the story that starts the book. All the same, she ended up enthusiastic...

   I approached this book with some very strong (entrenched?) opinions about attitudes to battling with cancer based on my own experiences of losing a close member of my family to pancreatic cancer. Any mention of things such as the importance of a positive attitude are always met by my mental bookmark of "yes that's all very well, but some people don't have any time to develop a positive attitude. There is no time to fight any battles".

   Take for example this quote from chapter one:

   A friend of the cancer sufferer suggesting that perhaps his relapse had occurred because '[he] felt disgusted and ashamed of himself and that was why the cancer came back'. She also regaled him with the story of a cancer survivor who had said that when he was told he had only 6 months to live he decided to make them the best 6 months of his life and he thought that was why the cancer had left him. "

   And this one from chapter two: "The most important step on your road to recovery on this Cancer Journey has to be a Positive Mental Attitude, Make up your mind that you can beat it, and you will. Add to this outlook the support from family and friends, Doctors and Support Groups, and you will win."

   This kind of thinking can be inspiring, of course, but it can also be upsetting to someone whose cancer has not left them, or to people close to someone who did lose the battle to cancer. It suggests that the cancer won because they had too much shame, or that they did not live out their last months in the right way, or that one's attitude or relations have let one down. It says, in short, "it's your own fault that you have cancer."

   The fact of the matter is that some cancers are too virulent or aggressive for anyone to fight. As Reznik points out in chapter 5, "Survival rates vary by primary sites from less than 3% for cancer of the pancreas to more than 90% for cancer of the thyroid."

   That said, I found that this book improved after a shaky start, as it began to examine cancer from a broader perspective. Cancer is placed within the context of the environmental impact of the industrialised Western world, and its effects on those of us living in it.

   The science of cancer and how it develops pricked the interest of the scientist in me, particularly in terms of the improvements (or lack of them!) in the treatment of the disease in the last 40 years.

   The contributors to Cancer: A personal challenge come from around the Western world and I found this a very interesting perspective. The book underlined the value of having an approach of working with the patient in their fight against this disease rather than focussing on what can be done to the cancer. This is perhaps established practice in the different health systems available in other countries, but here in the UK, I have found it more of an attitude of 'done to' rather than 'done with'. I appreciate that this may vary depending on where you live, but the experiences this year of several members of my extended family (who all live in very disparate areas of Britain) suggest that this is still very much the case. Perhaps this book should be required reading for all trainee doctors (and not just oncologists!)

   Moving through the chapters on the causes of cancer and how it develops, I came to the personal testimonies of people living with cancer, and this was the highlight of the book for me. The humour and sheer bloody-mindedness of these survivors was inspiring, but I must confess that the story that touched me the most was written by a woman caring for her dying husband. This was a remarkable family coping under enormous pressure and I found her story really humbling.

   The final section offers 'tools' to help not only those who are 'facing the dragon' but to all who are trying to cope with the stresses of modern society. There is much useful advice in this part of the book for therapists who may be working with patients or those around them. Carl Stonier's chapter on the use of imagery, Bob Rich's on psychological pain management, and Paul Bedson's on meditation offer valuable insights into possible preventive aids for people who are free of cancer, and not just as a help or possible treatment to current sufferers.

   The editor, whose fictional story in chapter one had been partially responsible for my consternation, more than won me round in his final chapter 'Why?' where he outlines his philosophy of life as "working toward a sane society that does not poison its population, that is not ruled by profit, but by the greatest benefit to the largest number." That does it for me!

   A book with the title Cancer - A Personal Challenge was always going to have a huge hurdle to overcome with this reader, and it is a testament to this collection that I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone, whether facing very specific battles or just trying to live in a consumerist society on this ailing planet.

by Nowick Gray

Alternative Culture Magazine. From 1980-2002 he homesteaded in interior BC, Canada, exploring many facets of alternative culture: wilderness, sustainable economy, health, politics, relationship, cooperative living, music, writing, and spirituality. Nowick now lives in Victoria, BC, where he edits, reviews, and plays African drums.

   Bob Rich has assembled a comprehensive and readable collection of personal stories and informative articles that should guide anyone in becoming acquainted with cancer and its conventional and alternative therapies. The book is well balanced in its approach: no-nonsense scientific descriptions of the medical conditions; heartfelt narratives of personal journeys with disease (involving acceptance, recovery and support); and insightful portrayals of alternative healing methods. Chief among these are various forms of meditation and visualization, with proven effects in reducing the threat or impact of cancer. All in all this book is a powerful testament to the power of mind over body, convincing both scientifically and spiritually.


Home  back to the book  Anger and Anxiety  Personally Speaking