On Wednesday, September 9, my personal account of battling with prostate cancer through spring and summer of 2020 was released on Amazon. As of Thursday, September 10, a promotion went active that offers the Kindle download free for five days (i.e., through Monday, September 14). The book’s title is Why I’m Not Dead. That’s how I feel about the contrast between mainstream medicine in the US and the alternative treatments I received in Mexico—death sentence vs. new chance at life—and the rest of the book strives to be similarly straightforward.
Inasmuch as the ebook is free for the moment, I see no reason to paste in excerpts here. I’d rather discuss, very generally, what the book is and is not. (My plan, by the way—if Amazon’s software throws up no roadblock—is to offer the ebook for free in a promotion at the beginning of every month for some while in the future.)
My text is NOT a “hit piece” on mainstream American medicine, if by that colorful phrase is meant an emotionally surcharged and manipulative indictment of the entire system. It’s the testimony of one man. It bears upon a single series of incidents relating to how that man was lost in the bureaucratic shuffle—then asked to content himself with a death sentence because some inflexible paradigm directed him to the Dying square after he landed on the Metastasis square.
Now, my “board game” analogy certainly implies that the system is flawed. A thoughtful person cannot be handed a stone instead of a loaf of bread and fail to ask, “What’s up with this bakery?” It could be that my falling through the cracks (as in not receiving the basic diagnostic test for two months, then being forced to await the results for another month) was just bad luck. On the other hand, there’s no doubting that “the system” offers cancer patients a very limited menu of options: usually surgery, chemo, and radiation (which you can order a la carte or as a Blue Plate Special). At the same time, it vindictively suppresses any attempt on the part of patients or doctors to draw innovative treatments—using diet, vitamin supplements, heat therapy, Rife technology, etc.—into the mainstream’s flow.
So the book, naturally, contains some reflections upon the medical establishment’s motives. That establishment placed me under sentence of death. Then, two months (and about $40,000) later, I returned from Mexico virtually cancer-free. That’s not supposed to happen… yet it happens over and over again, for those who can afford to eat deep into their life savings (for Medicare supports no such alternatives, and the flight to Tijuana isn’t even tax-deductible). I attempted to keep my rampages to a minimum, and also to confine them to sections marked “Commentary”—as distinct from those marked “Chronology” that continued the linear narrative of my journey. But I couldn’t very well pass over the polar separation between how I was treated in Tijuana and how in my own country, how I was given a new lease on life in Tijuana and how consigned to death in Georgia.
The hipshot conclusion reached by several (usually much younger) fellow patients at Carlos Bautista’s Immunity Therapy Clinic) was that we Yanks need more socialism. No, that’s not a thesis whose merits impress me. In fact, I contend that my experience in the US was very much that of a pawn caught in a vast, impersonal socialist system. We already have the worst aspects of public health care: long delays, one-size-fits-all diagnoses, pigeon-holing treatments, a highly manipulative payment structure, haughtily indifferent doctors or “experts”, and an unstated assumption that your individual inconvenience is not a concern to the well-functioning state. Also typical of socialism is that particularly abusive aspect of late capitalism which draws misdirected denunciation from our young citizens: corporatism. The state, that is, farms out certain development or production needs to private operations. I suppose in a socialist state, the emphasis is on what the central authority deems necessary (as in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, or in Communist China today); whereas in the late-capitalist model, private industry dictates (very subtly, through lobbying and bribery) where the emphasis goes so as to maximize profit. In neither case is competition allowed to flourish and energize innovation.
So I’m not ranging far and wide to attack Big Pharma, and I’m not launching into half-baked political diatribes against capitalism. Everything I say is said from the perspective of somebody “on the ground”. I do not, for instance, float any proposal about how to straighten out the health insurance racket. It’s a nightmare for most of us to negotiate… but I realize that the “inside baseball” awareness needed to advance workable improvement isn’t in my possession. I’m not going to fire a broadside when I don’t even know if my cannon are loaded with grapeshot or chick peas.
My “commentary” sections are very occasionally dedicated to religious issues. The book neither cries foul on religious concerns as being out of bounds in the “cancer game” (how could it?) nor insists on transporting divine will into the middle of every moment. Cancer remains a mysterious subject, even to those who have studied it for a lifetime. Sometimes lifestyle choices—smoking, drinking, consumption of sugar or red meat—seem a likely motive force… but then there are people like me who’ve made the right choices but find themselves under attack, anyway. Genetics, maybe. After much research (and, of course, prostate cancer is only traceable through the male line, which is evasive in my family’s history), I did find a genetic marker. My uncle’s fatal cancer began in the prostate. But my older brother has been unaffected, as has my first cousin. Could it be stress? Again, this is a plausible factor in my case—very plausible. Yet many people have been more stressed than I throughout their careers and family lives, and… and I see them cruising along into their seventies with drinking problems, but no cancer.
So… is it “God’s will”? Certainly you can discover something of God’s will for your life during any tragedy or calamity. A devastating flood, a car accident, six months on the front line of a bloody war… these are experiences that can make your earlier priorities disappear into a vapor of silly illusions. It was so for me as I skirted death this past summer. But I’m always appalled to hear the theory advanced that God is punishing Jack or Jill by visiting that person with a dread disease. What odious arrogance—what spiritual nullity! St. Paul writes that the ill do not sin, meaning (I suppose) that their energies are entirely consumed in fighting off the threat to their body rather than divided between routine living and ambitious, toxic daydreaming. The suffering are dear to God. It is the most prosperous of us who should worry about where we stand in His eyes.
The one thing I want more than all else is for readers of the book afflicted by cancer not to feel bound and gagged by a supercilious medical community’s verdict that they just need to settle down and die comfortably. I hate that Siren song—that whisper of the Serpent—with all my heart, mind, and soul. May nobody succumb to it through professional bullying! In our struggle with death, may we wrestlers in the mortal match shout in the face of Establishment “experts” that we are spirits trapped in bodies, and that the spirit will have its say!
As I explore the option of free promotions, I’ve decided to give several other publications the same trial run. Here’s the list. Again, all ebook download are free until Tuesday morning, September 15.
- The Eternal Moment (about the illusion of linear time and the earthly challenge of embracing full reality in a single present)
- We Even Saw Figures Tending Fires (essays concerning spirituality and uniquely contemporary issues)
- Climbing Backward Out of Caves (an apologetic arguing that the life of faith makes the most sense)
Social and political commentary:
Nightmare Made of Dreams (essays tending toward a paleo-conservative, somewhat pessimistic conclusion, in that progressive thinking has undermined even our culture’s self-styled Right)