On March 28, 2014, Manalapan health Examiner Stacey Chillemi interviewed Jonathan Chamberlain the author of the “The Cancer Survivor’s Bible." This book offers an easy-to-read book that teaches you everything you need to know about Cancer. Here’s what Jonathan had to say about his latest book and his own personal experience about how his wife’s battle with cancer has changed his life.
What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.
In fact, I have three books that came out almost simultaneously – all on the subject of cancer. The first of these is my big book The Cancer Survivor’s Bible. Everyone should read this book not just people diagnosed with cancer. The second book is The Amazing Cancer Kid – the true story of Connah Broom – an amazing kid who has beaten terminal stage cancer without the aid of chemo or radiation or surgery. Finally, I have a short book called Cancer. Don’t Panic! People can get this book as a free download from my website www.fightingcancer.com.
OK. Let us start with the big book. What is it? Why did you write it?
Why? The reason I wrote it because exactly 20 years ago my wife, Bernadette, was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Naturally, we went along with everything the doctors recommended and fifteen months later, after a great deal of pain – both physical and emotional – she died. She could not have died faster if we had done nothing for the cancer. Throughout that experience, I was desperately searching for books that would tell me what to do, what was the best way to think about cancer? What were the facts and what were the options? I came to realise that the book I was looking for did not exist. I also still did not know what I would do if I myself got cancer, even though I had already read well over a hundred books. Therefore, I sat down to write the book I wished I had in the first place. I wrote the book for me.
That first book titled, “Fighting Cancer – A Survival Guide”. It has now been through two more rewrites and is now, at 550 pages, pretty much everything that I want people to know about cancer – and I wrote it to be easy to understand. Since it is now complete, I called it The Cancer Survivor’s Bible. This is the whole truth of cancer. Let’s face it cancer incidence is growing. Cancer is coming to someone close to us. That is 100% certain. It makes sense to be prepared. Right? To anyone who thinks they will just go along with what the doctor says, I will say this: You can save yourself a lot of pain and damage and very likely live longer if you just take the threat of cancer seriously and prepare yourself. It is coming. This book tells you what the facts are, what the issues are and what all the options are. It is for readers to put that information together for themselves. We are all different so we will make different decisions.
That is very interesting. Can you tell us a little about the book “The Amazing Cancer Kid?”
OK. Connah Broom was 4 years old when diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Stage 4 is the last stage. He underwent 8 months of chemo and he still had the same eleven tumours that he had when he started the regime. Therefore, the doctors said there was nothing more they could do and sent him home to die. Actually they did want to give him whole body radiation but this is a brutal treatment and carries very little chance of success and his grandparents, who were caring for him, managed to resist this. There was a threat the doctors would get a court order to impose the treatment on him but as I say they managed to avoid this. And so their journey began. They made some interesting choices and amongst them were a decision to do sono-photo-dynamic therapy, which they had to go to Mexico for – and it was not cheap. Now, eight years later Connah is virtually free of his cancer. He still has one tumour left but the latest scans are showing that it too is dying. He is a robustly healthy young lad. This book was written for pre-teens and young adults. The book is attractively laid out and illustrated.
What about the other book you wrote, "Cancer? Don’t Panic!”
Right. For most people the situation is this. Everyone knows about cancer in a vague sort of way but no-one takes it seriously until they themselves are diagnosed with the disease. Then they panic. They clutch at any straws the doctor’s offer. We can do this. We can do that. Yes, yes, yes, people say. I will do anything. Once they have gone this, far they will reject any other information that does not support this decision. Now whether or not this would be the right thing to do: in some cases it might be, in most cases not. It surely makes sense to think about cancer and to have some sort of understanding of the parameters of the question. Therefore, I wrote down some of my thoughts, some of the wisdom I have acquired over the last twenty years. I did this because I want as many people as possible to read it, so that people can be better prepared. I have made it available as a free download at (www.fightingcancer.com) – it is also available in Kindle and as a paperback. This book is designed to help people think about cancer in a sensible way. There is no need to panic. Panicking is definitely the wrong thing to do.
So, you got into writing these books because of your own personal experience with cancer – with your wife’s cancer. You have read hundreds of books. What should people do if they get cancer? What is your advice?
(Laughs) I am afraid that is the one question I cannot answer. As I say, we are all different. We have different cancers and we have had different upbringings. We differ in age, education, social situation and in a hundred other ways. All of these things affect our view of the world. Part of the journey to recovery is doing the work of reading and deciding for yourself. That way we own whatever decisions we make. My job is to give you everything you need to make those decisions for yourself.
So who are you when you are not writing cancer books?
I used to be a teacher. I am now a full-time writer. I have written textbooks, novels, memoirs and other works. I have also founded two charities for families with children with developmental disabilities, one in Hong Kong and one in China. I have been very busy!