Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tip #5: Read the book "Anticancer"

OK. This is a bit hard to explain. I mean, it's not hard to explain why I think you should read the book Anticancer by David Servan Schreiber, even if you don't have cancer. In a very compelling way, the author tells you about exciting research that shows that some simple lifestyle changes can have a huge impact in whether you develop cancer or not in the future. And, for those of us who already have it, those changes can slow it down. I liked that the book is full of scientific references that can be checked and followed and that he explains how cancer starts and develops in very simple terms, for someone like me, with no medical background. But the book is also compelling because he is telling us his own story, of how he discovered by accident that he had a brain tumor when he was a (somewhat arrogant) young researcher and what led him to research the topic and changed his own lifestyle when the cancer recurred five years later. And we learn a bit about his love life, how he met his wife, the birth of his son, his family back in France, which makes the book actually very entertaining as well.

The part that is harder to explain is that, unfortunately, he did die of his cancer, 19 years after his first diagnosis. This book was a lifesaver for me a year ago when I learned about my own diagnosis. It is full of hope, which is what we need most often in life. He gave me the hope I needed to stop crying and start moving. If the people in the research cases he described could do it, why couldn't I? I gave the book to everyone I knew needed it, saying "Look at him, he's doing so well." So, needless to say, it was very hard to hear about his death this past summer. What had happened? Well, Dr. Servan Schreiber was a remarkable person in every sense and he knew we would all be asking this question, so he wrote another book, Not the Last Goodbye, when he was diagnosed with the third recurrence of his brain tumor. In his view, he didn't follow his own advice about reducing stress in your life. But we also have to think that he was given at most 6 years of life with his first cancer, so the fact that he lived 19 is indeed a testament that his methods did work.

Well, in any case, I don't want to make this too long. What I really want to share here is that the changes that he proposes are related to not only diet, but also stress reduction (through contact with friends, family, support groups), exercise (so much more important than we think) and, all those things, if followed, will give you a much happier and healthier life, no matter what, so that's why I highly recommend reading that book.

And, for those of you who may be curious and cannot wait to read the book, here is a one hour lecture that the author gave some years ago where he explains why there is such an epidemic of cancer now and what kind of things we can do to prevent it. Like I said, it is an hour, but it is also entertaining and completely worth your time.

Many of the posts that I write here have their origin in this book. It changed my life. I hope it also helps you. Do you have another book recommendation we should know about? I'd love to hear about it! And thanks for reading!


  1. I am reading it now and enjoying it tremendously. Highly recommended, I agree, Pilar!

  2. Hi Pilar,
    Darn, I just wrote you a long comment here and it got lost in cyberspace. Anyway, I was suggesting this CD set called: Stress-Proof Your Brain: Meditations to Rewire Neural Pathways for Stress Relief and Unconditional Happiness. I attended a lecture on stress and its impact on our health and the speaker was talking about how we can develop new neural pathways in the part of our brain that is responsible for helping us relax. The same holds true for the brain stem (apparently the area associated with the "fight or flight" state). So, I thought I would give this CD set a try. The CDs were developed by Rick Hanson, PhD.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer, I'm going to check it out. Have you tried it already? This is great information!

    2. Hi again, I looked him up and he also has a very interesting website called where he gives weekly one minute tips to strengthen our neural pathways through some simple practices. Like Servan Schreiber said in his book, all these things are essential not just to survive cancer, but to have a good life.

      Thanks again, Jennifer, I love how much I always learn from you!