Dr David Servan-Schreiber passed away in July of last year. I’d previously read both of his remarkable books Healing Without Freud or Prozac and Anticancer: A New Way of Life, when I discovered his final book, Not the Last Goodbye, on the “new books” shelf in my local library a month or so ago. I am greatly saddened by his passing, but know he leaves behind a legacy of sound, practical approaches to general good health and has enhanced our understanding of cancer resistance and recovery in a way that no pharmaceutical company’s latest chemical marvel could begin to touch.
Servan-Schreiber, psychiatrist and neuro-science researcher, was first [ironically] diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1992 at the age of 31. He was told by his oncologist that not much could be done, and that such cancers are usually aggressive and fatal. Servan-Schreiber felt that such a defeatist attitude was not helpful, and felt sure that there was something he could do that would make a difference. As a researcher, he embarked on a personal project to explore cancer: its causes, its cures, and its prevention. And perhaps it comes as no surprise that he found diet, exercise, and meditation (or similar stress-reducing inward practices) are key components for cancer prevention and recovery. He tells the story himself here:
If the you tube video piques your interest but you don’t want to chase down his books, you might enjoy his 20 New Anticancer Rules (actually, I only count 19) in a brief blog for the Huffington Post. Good advice for healthy living for all of us: enjoy your greens (veggies and tea), your browns (whole grains), your olive oil, your fish. Cut back on meats, potatoes, and especially sugar. Get some exercise (note from the above video: 30 minutes a day of brisk walking has the same remission effect for breast cancer as $50,000 worth of the wonder drug herceptin!), get some sunshine (without sunscreen!), learn to breathe and relax, and spread the love (in his words “Reach out and touch someone”).
David Servan-Schreiber died of a brain tumour 8 weeks after finishing Not the Last Goodbye, almost 20 years after the initial diagnoses of his aggressive, cancerous tumour. His survival defied all predictions. In his final book, he shares his coming to terms with the end of his life with a powerful and honest collection of thoughts and insights on his life, his research, his cancer, his career, the importance of healing our sick planet, religion, love, life, and laughter. It’s a little book with a big punch, a beautiful final gift from a man who will not be forgotten. Thank you, David.