My Cancer journey – by Jonathan Chamberlain
Posted by Jonathan Chamberlain on March 9, 2011
If you are looking for information to inform your cancer decisions then browse this site – there’s a lot here – and read my cancer books – see http://www.fightingcancer.com for details
My Cancer Journey by Jonathan Chamberlain
My wife was diagnosed with cancer early in 1993. By the time she got to the operating table the cancer had spread beyond the uterus. Radiation and chemotherapy seemed at first to have shrunk the tumour to nothing but it came back with a vengeance. This time there was no stopping it and at midday on Easter Sunday 1994, she died.
This short description says nothing of the emotional impacts on us and our relationship as we reacted in very different ways to the situation. When Bern died I was left stunned at how rapid and painful the course of the disease had been. By now I had done sufficient reading to know that while this might have been my first bout with cancer, it certainly wasn’t going to be the last. It was clear that I had at least a fifty per cent chance myself. What was I going to do if that happened? All I knew was that I would be a fool to stop my cancer education at that point. What Bern had done had clearly not worked and it had been excruciatingly painful and physically very damaging.
So I kept on reading and reading and then there came a point where I felt I had some angle on the problem. And when you have some wisdom or knowledge, you want to share it. So I sat down and wrote a book. That first version was called Fighting Cancer: A Survival Guide. And I set up a website at www.fightingcancer.com so that I could collate people’s experiences, and my thoughts. It was an attempt at a blog before blogs came into being. This was about 1997. It was also at this site that I made the book available, free of charge, when that first edition went out of print.
Time passed and after a few years I decided to revisit the book and realised that it was organisationally a complete mess. It was also out of date. So I spent a year re-writing it and republished it as Cancer: The Complete Recovery Guide. The next year I was asked to write a slim book for a small publishing company and the result was Cancer Recovery Guide: 15 Alternative and Complementary Strategies for Restoring Health. And then of course more information came my way so I set up a new blog site at www.cancerfighter.wordpress.com.
It is now over 15 years since I started on this journey. What have I learnt?
The first thing I have learnt is that there is no single cure for cancer that will work for you, me and everybody else. There are no 100% cures. I have also learnt that there are good arguments for many courses of action – conventional and alternative. One can mix and match. And thirdly, we are all different in the way we react to and think about cancer. What you may decide to do may seem like madness to me – and vice versa – but one thing we need to recognise is this: the person who has the cancer is the one who has to make the decision because he or she is the one who has to live with the consequences. They are responsible to themselves and to their families only – and everyone else needs to respect that decision.
Recently, I received an email from someone who had read my first cancer book. At that time her mother was in her eighties when she was diagnosed. Reading the book with her mother they came to the conclusion that she would do nothing. Her body was too frail to cope with any serious intervention and she was too old to change her habits. So she did nothing and continued to live and she was still alive in her 90s. The writer thanked me for helping her to understand that doing nothing was an option.
Over the years I have discovered that there are good and bad arguments about the value of conventional and alternative therapies. Everyone needs to make their own decision on the matter. But it has always seemed to me that the wisest course of action was to inform myself about the widest range of options. Only then would I be in a position to answer that crucial question: What will I do when I get cancer?
© Jonathan Chamberlain 2011
Note: The Cancer Survivor’s Bible (2012) is now available – see www.fightingcancer.com
“You book has become as important to me as my dead mother’s letters.”