Some of the most informative books I have read about cancer care are not from scientists, academics or thought leaders, rather they are the writings of those at the front of the war, patients. The personal experiences and insights of those who have persevered in the fight are vital guides for patient, family and doctor.
I had the honor recently of reading Andrew Griffith’s cancer biography, Living with Cancer, A Journey. A Canadian executive, diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma in 2009, extensively treated with chemotherapy, including a bone marrow transplant, Griffith has produced a stunning, multimedia book, which reveals his struggle in a most interesting and articulate way, presenting both a broad analysis of the disease process and revealing the personal impact of dealing with cancer. I have practiced oncology for a while, nonetheless, Living provides insights, which for me are new and genuine. This highly readable work is an important addition to personal memoir and the cancer fight.
In a way, this is three books, combined nearly seamlessly into one, using writing, graphics, plentiful images and Internet links. First, it is a diary of Griffith’s cancer diagnosis, treatment, relapse and transplant, blending medical events with fascinating daily survival strategies to assistance any patient or family dealing with therapy. How Griffith felt and feels, how he adjusts to ups and downs, and how he got through each day, month and year is revealed in great detail by an insightful gentleman, many of whose observations are unique, such as “don’t be spooked by stats,” and “own your life.”
Second, this is a “how to” book, listing practical steps to understand and cope with cancer. Living is a source of alternatives in cancer care, full of explanations about the disease, therapy and practical observations about treatment. The reader will learn a great deal about cancer medicine, and gain knowledge, which will help in battling any malignancy, not just lymphoma. Plentiful links, a large annotated glossary and clear language discussions, teach a lot about the illness. He invests much of the book in describing how to find reliable information about cancer, doctors and even alternative medicine.
Finally, Griffith gives a sophisticated introspective analysis of what it means to be a cancer patient. In his role as cancer philosopher, he delves deeply into the affects of life threatening events on the mind and soul, how the experience changes us, what we can learn and how we can survive. As Griffith says “All-in-all, I keep coming back to my key reflections on the importance of people and the value of time as I continue the journey.”
This is an important, modern book about life and cancer and Griffith is a skilled teacher. The author, who blogs at his website, My Lymphoma Journey, has made the book available through Amazon, iBookstore, Kobo or Lulu. Living it is an excellent source of information and introspection, and is a valuable addition to the armamentaria of anyone involved in the battle against the dread disease.