A remarkable first-person account of surviving cancer on one’s own terms.
Gearin-Tosh (English/Oxford Univ.) received the news that he had incurable multiple myeloma in March 1994 and for the next year kept a journal of his efforts to research his deadly disease, assess his options, and find a benign treatment regimen. This journal, supplemented by numerous letters to and from doctors, colleagues, and friends, form the basis for the first part of Living Proof. He relates how, after consulting a number of doctors in both England and the US, he opts not to undergo the brutal chemotherapy recommended by orthodox medicine. (“If your friend touches chemotherapy, he’s a goner” was the warning passed along by someone who had consulted Dr. Ernst Wynder on his behalf.) His research leads him to examine alternative medicine therapies, and he adopts a program utilizing Chinese breathing exercises, acupuncture, regular coffee enemas, and a stringent diet that relies heavily on raw fruits and vegetables supplemented with vitamins and minerals. Gearin-Tosh’s fiercely intelligent account ends in 1995, but the second section, which he wrote six years later, sets this apart from the usual cancer-survival narrative. Prefaced by tributes from two physicians, it includes the author’s analysis of the situation cancer patients are likely to find themselves in and his advice to them. He argues persuasively against being rushed into treatment by doctors’ survival statistics, advocates active involvement in one’s own therapy, and urges resistance to the notion that personal temperament or instincts have no place or value in cancer treatment. Also included is a lengthy medical case history, wryly titled “The Case of the .005% Survivor,” written by his doctor and directed to physicians, giving extensive details about his treatment. An afterword directs readers to a Web site where Gearin-Tosh’s medical records will be kept up-to-date.
Without a hint of bathos or self-pity, and a pleasure to read for its author’s intelligence, wit, humanity, and conviction.