To Doctors: The Soul Isn’t Gagged and Bound in Its Bodily Prison

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.

Faith/religion/spirituality:

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)

Fiction (novels):

Visit my Amazon Author’s Page for both Kindle e-books and on-demand bound copies.

The Mortal Risks of Too Much Success

My son amazed me by grasping within a year that his B.A. in Business Administration was a dead end and plunging himself into a sixteen-week course that prepared him to write Java code.  Now he’s… well, I mustn’t brag on him, even though today is his twenty-fourth birthday.  Suffice it to say that he’s making half again as much as his old man ever earned.

So now he can check the “gainful employment” box.  I was shocked, however, when he revealed during his recent visit how unrewarding he suddenly finds life to be.  He was a college athlete: no more baseball.  He was an intense student: no more techniques or disciplines to master.  He occupies one of the few plateaus offered by the American Dream, where you can stand up and gaze about rather than worry over your next foothold.  Comfort, security, a future… so what’s next?  A new car?  A house?  Marriage and family?  Are those, then—including the wife and children—acquisitions that mark an elevated status, like a new suit of expensive clothes?

The church he attends (and the churches attended by many in our more prosperous communities) veritably seethes with community-service projects, missionary activities, “outreach”… sure, that could be the next step!  Now that your own life has attained a plateau from whose ridge you clearly see the abyss of nullify at your feet, divert your eyes by rushing to bestow upon others the material blessings which turned to ash in your own hands.  Help others a few steps up the same plateau.  Whatever you do, just don’t rear up and take conscious notice that you occupy an island from whose heights the stars are as distant as ever.

Or become a socialist—a Bernie-baby.  (It’s very nearly the same thing as joining a progressive church.)  Wrap yourself in an “activism” that demands equal pay for all, equal housing, equal education, equal health care, equal transportation, equal access to amusements; or save a planet that doesn’t need saving, while you wildly cast about—in your own desperate need of salvation—for something or someone to save.  The planet needs saving—yes, it does!  Yes, it does!  Become a mindless zealot.  Whatever you do, don’t look over that ledge into the existential abyss that mirrors your life’s futility.

We have placed our young people in this dilemma precisely by engineering the most prosperous society in human history.  The basic necessities of survival preoccupied human beings for millennia; now they—we—worry over which gender pronoun to use and whether cows are passing wind too often: anything to distract us from peering over the edge into the abyss.

If I appear to make light of such anguish, it’s really the flight from anguish—the childish, highly creative, utterly delusional evasions of it—that make me smile.  The anguish itself can kill.  It almost killed me.  I am fully satisfied that it won’t kill my son, thank God: his dark side (and only the shallowest puddles have no murkiness) is not as sinister and paralyzing as mine.  But what I’m about to say is neither a joking matter nor, if you will bear with me, a frontal assault upon capitalism.  It’s just how things are: life.

In an advanced, high-tech economy, you make money by producing and selling things.  Since need is somewhat subjective, you maximize your marketing opportunities by making the public perceive commodities as necessary which are not so—whose possession may, indeed, create true need or otherwise cause harm.  You lure the masses into “needing” burgers and fries, iPhones, video games, Nike sneakers, Pop Tarts, torn blue jeans, a kitchen island, a well-mowed lawn.  I discovered yesterday that almonds are required to be pasteurized, thanks to two salmonella outbreaks more than a decade ago.  The process is not required of any other nut, yet the almond is no more susceptible to contamination than other nuts.  The mandate appears to be no more than a marketing strategy endorsed by both public and private sectors to ensure a gullible public that life’s risks can be neutralized.  If you’re involved in some such initiative as this, you probably make a handsome salary.  And what the hell are you actually doing with your time on earth?

It gets worse.  Because of the system’s success at generating “needless necessities” and then surrounding each product with numerous bureaucratic careers concerned with measuring, validating, and policing, the cost of everything constantly rises.  Small new enterprises cannot compete in the advertisement-and-regulation-saturated atmosphere of this highly evolved economy… and so they steadily disappear.  Young people could once find their meaning simply by inheriting a position at the local grocery or tannery or freight office: “A.B. Lindstrom, Grocer”; “Buck’s Boots and Saddles”.  “We deliver groceries to your doorstep… we custom-fit every boot… we take packages to all local destinations before the sun goes down.”  There was much pride invested in such operations.  They served the community, and their clients became a kind of extended family.

In our brave new world of vast chains and corporate mergers, personal relationships of this kind are the stuff of claptrap publicity rather than of reality.  No sense of fixity, of rootedness, remains: everything’s in constant flux.  Rarely does a human voice even answer the complaint hotline now; rarely is there even a phone number to call rather than a website with “frequently asked questions”.

The young person in the labor force, then, is left with… a paycheck.  A paycheck to spend on baubles and frivolities that may create—briefly—the illusion of happiness.  And we wonder why our youth are so unmoored from reality, and why our collective manifests signs of clinical insanity….

My son will be fine, because he is one of the few who will stare straight into the abyss.  True faith, I am convinced, comes only to those who doubt.  The strongest answer to the question, “Why believe in God,” is the number of unanswerable questions surrounding that central one.  Those who shield their eyes and ears from the plateau’s windblown isolation dwell in the illusion that the stars sit within easy reach.  They don’t.  They’re stars.

Those thuds you hear with increasing rapidity and rising volume are the sound of fools trying to step onto a star from an extension ladder.  That’s where our society is today: catastrophic folly.  And we did it to ourselves, by being successful.  I don’t really have any single solution for how we cure ourselves of our suicidal impulses.  Perhaps the corpses around us will eventually be too thick for another ladder to be erected.

Happy birthday, my son! Carry on.