Cancer: 100 Ways to Fight Your own attitude is your brightest guiding star. Some of success is doing what you like to do. But, more of it is doing the things you don't like to do, but must.
It is too easy to make an excuse, and not do it, and fail. -John Roberts As this book goes to press early in 2010, I am 75 and into my fifth year with incurable metastatic prostate cancer, which had already spread to the bones before cancer was diagnosed and the prostate removed. The statistical prognosis for the current treatments of choice is that one-half of these patients will die within three years, 75% within five. This usually happens after the standard treatments and chemotherapy fail and must be discontinued due to harmful side effects or weakening effectiveness, resumed cancer growth, and the failure of bones or key organs. I am still feeling fine, no pain, living a normal life, and I have completed eight months of chemotherapy with a 63% drop in my PSA (prostate cancer blood test) without major side affects or rising PSA.
I have fought this cancer and its personal consequences in more than a hundred ways as described here. Above all, a lifetime of fitness, and my current excellent physical and mental condition, supplemented by great medical care and everything else I can learn or think of, is partially responsible for my success in living beyond the average life span for my particular fatal disease.
We cannot know which weapon or how much each one contributes to the extension of life, so we must use them all. The doctors all say that cancer survival is very unpredictable, and I figured that many of the positive outcomes must depend on how comprehensively and how hard the individual fights. So, I immediately started this book and organized my fight. I was extremely unfortunate: most prostate cancer either is so slow growing, or eliminated by removal, that survivors live for many years. In my case, it had already spread, or metastasized, to the bones prior to the operation, and that cancer is inoperable and incurable. But, some people in that condition die very early, while others, like me, live much longer. This is highly unpredictable in individual cases due to variation in patient condition, treatment effectiveness, and other unknowns.
More than half of all people newly diagnosed with cancer will be cured or given extended remission. They will die of something else. Of the other half, a large number have treatable cancer and they still have many years to live. The remainder, probably including me, have learned that they have incurable cancer that has grown too strong or spread and taken root in such places that it cannot be killed or removed and death is likely in the next few months or years. Nevertheless, normally incurable cancer and conventional predictability sometimes fail, and others may prolong life by fighting with strong mental and physical effort. As the disease progresses and is treated, and science advances, sometimes in great leaps, we are rarely sure of which group we are in. That uncertainty, that hope, and the dreadful power of cancer, call for great strength of character and effort in both patients and those around them.
This book is about that. The animal instinct to survive is, in humans alone, expanded in our unique cortex to something much greater--the intelligent understanding of self-awareness and an intense desire to prolong the experience, growth, and emotion of life. The human spirit, beyond the mere motivation of existence, is largely responsible for all that our species has conquered and achieved.
It is an essential quality to be trained, treasured, and put to use, and one of the finest ways is to survive, continue, and improve our exceptional life through our collective and individual intellect. In the last century, medical science, the visibility of living in distant years, and the recognition that we are, and can be, responsible for increasing our own longevity have added decades to our
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