A cancer diagnosis and treatment primer packaged within an entertaining novella.
Physician, pulmonologist, and president of the Medical Rejuvenation Institute, a program focused on achieving a longer, youthful life, Briones (Jane Doe: Surviving Cancer, 2014, etc.) offers another case study fictionalization with the story of Linda Alden, a 40-year-old twice-divorced mother and night nurse in an emergency room. A nagging cough leads to a devastating lung cancer diagnosis, soon followed up with suggestions to improve the quality of her life with help from personalized “Integrative Medicine” in combination with chemotherapy. The doctor behind this groundbreaking complementary therapy is the author, Briones, who rather awkwardly insinuates herself into the narrative as a physician who is “one of the best in the country.” Alden’s meetings with the good doctor provide Briones the unique opportunity to present her perspective on alternative cancer therapies using a ketogenic diet rich in antioxidants, hyperbaric oxygen, and an arsenal of medicinal supplements. While sometimes unpronounceable—Epigallocatechin gallate, Phenylbutyrate, Somatostatin—the ingredients are explained in healthy bits of medical knowledge. Though the novella is largely self-promotional, readers might be able to extract an inspirational, spiritual, or educational message, though the heavily clinical content somewhat hijacks what began as an effectively melodramatic narrative. Believing that cancer may be the result of excessive psychological stress, environmental toxins, isolation, or obesity, Briones empowers open-minded readers to educate themselves and become aware of “the importance of lifestyle in cancer origins.” Alden’s story gains momentum in the final pages when the author reveals her tragic destiny and the angel—Briones’ Catholicism is repeatedly referenced—who awaits her.
While scattered and unevenly delivered, Briones’ ambitious amalgam of medical reference and fiction provides a hopeful glimpse into the possibilities of battling cancer with preventative, complementary medicine.