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Making Friends with Cancer

by Dawn Nelson

listed in cancer

[Image: Making Friends with Cancer]

Modern medicine is full of metaphors from the theatre of war. We 'fight' cancer and 'defeat' depression and 'campaign' against the causes of illness.

Therefore, the title of this book may shock many people. In the foreword Dr Bernie Siegel, author of Love, Medicine and Miracles has difficulty with the choice of the word 'friends' in relation to cancer. In choosing this title, Dawn Nelson is challenging the basis of modern medicine and it is an important and courageous act.

She introduces instead the metaphor of cancer as 'The Uninvited Guest'. Her book is a moving personal story of her experience with ovarian cancer. She looks upon cancer as her wake up call to the immediacy of life – an experience that many people discover from an encounter with many kinds of life threatening events.

Before her illness, Dawn had worked for many years giving massage to people who were ill, including those who were dying. She had knowledge of many alternative healing techniques and she dwells in depth on her difficult decision to accept chemotherapy.

Throughout the book, she demonstrates her achievement to feel empowered instead of victimized. She makes conscious choices about her illness and begins a series of changes to her lifestyle, including a change to a macrobiotic diet. In addition to the conventional treatment route, she uses acupuncture, massage, healing, meditation and affirmations. Her determination shines on every page. Everyone reacts to a diagnosis of cancer in a different way and Dawn Nelson encourages each individual to find the combination of choices that will work for them.

For anyone who doubts that cancer can be a gift, the chapter on 'Cancer's Lessons, Cancer's Gifts' is worth reading. Here is the evidence that cancer can be a transformative experience leading to a greater awareness of the important things in life. This is particularly important for those of us who have an unpleasant experience and then the desire to 'get back to normal' as soon as possible. In our society, people often look to the medical profession or the NHS to achieve this goal. Of course, we can never get back to being the people we were before a diagnosis of cancer. Every experience changes us. However, in our desire to resist the change we miss the huge lessons and gifts that the illness brings.

The book is attractive to read. I liked the quotations at the beginning of each chapter. I am not clear why the text was frequently printed in italics and I found this a distraction. There is a useful list of American books that deal with coping with cancer. The Appendix has a series of facts on ovarian cancer. Some of these are debatable. 'Regular pelvic examinations' are recommended for early detection of ovarian cancer but no interval is stated. There is a wealth of information about ovarian cancer and support groups in the UK on the Internet and I am rather surprised that an American book does not include some web site addresses.

In her conclusion to the book, Dawn returns to the theme of making friends with cancer. Her journey through healing is inspiring and optimistic. For anyone who is ready to open to the lessons of an illness this book will provide support and encouragement. For those of us who have the gift of good health, it is a reminder of the importance of being awake in each moment. Dawn Nelson demonstrates the courage to choose life and we all have that choice.

This book can be ordered from the Positive Health bookstore. Please click the Bookshop image at the top of the column to your right, then click on Cancer.

Dr Brian McMullen
Findhorn Press
ISBN 1-899171-38-X

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