While I was flying to and from Fort Lauderdale this week for strategy meetings with the folks at Spirit of Women, I read Kelly Turner’s book Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds. Several people recommended the book to me, knowing my interest in health and healthcare. Foremost among them was my sister Kerry, who is living with advanced ovarian cancer. Kerry, who also loved Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips (Kris Carr), said that Turner’s book is a must read. I love to read and always want to know more about what patients are reading and experiencing, so I ordered the book. While I was waiting for the book to arrive I coincidentally heard Kelly Turner interviewed on NPR – I believe she was a guest on Joe and Terry Graedon’s show, The People’s Pharmacy. In the interview Turner did a nice job being balanced and reasonable in her messaging. It made me even more interested in reading her book.
Kelly Turner, Ph.D., studied more than a thousand cases of “radical remission,” where people overcame cancer against all odds. Within her study she noticed nine factors or lifestyle changes (my language) that were common in most of these cases, in varying combinations:
- Radically changing your diet
- Taking control of your health
- Following your intuition
- Using herbs and supplements
- Releasing suppressed emotions
- Increasing positive emotions
- Embracing social support
- Deepening your spiritual connection
- Having strong reasons for living (beyond not wanting to die)
I’ve been around cancer enough in my life, and around people living with cancer, to be familiar with the rationale behind each of these factors. In that regard, Turner’s book and its revelations were not surprising. However, it was nice to see one researcher bring together all of these factors into a single text – empowering individuals with lifestyle changes they can make to get themselves back in some kind of body/mind/spirit balance. She also does a nice job of storytelling – sharing case studies. By putting connecting a human face to each of these factors, they seemed to have more weight. This wasn’t just a report; these are real human stories and outcomes. By the way, at the end of the book, she mentions that a tenth factor should be EXERCISE, but its importance in her study was diminished because most of the patients she studied with advanced cancer were too ill for exercise to be a major factor in their recovery.
It is important to note that Turner doesn’t recommend turning away from traditional cancer treatment options. In fact, she mentions cases where the patient underwent conventional treatment while also making lifestyle modifications that come more from the world of complementary or integrative medicine. However, some patients, in the stories she shares, did get frustrated with conventional treatments and abandoned them altogether – either due to a lack of results, medicine had gone as far as it could go, or because of the harsh impact of the conventional treatments on their bodies. Facing advance cancer, these individuals turned to some combination of the nine factors and eventually found a path to radical remission.
For those who have a cancer diagnosis and for those of us who know someone who has cancer, this is a potentially important book. It provides hope. Not false hope. But the kind of hope that comes from access to new knowledge. In this case, it is knowledge about how focusing on your body, mind and spirit can bring about the possibility of incredible healing. Conversely, there are lessons to be learned about how stress, negative emotions, poor diet and the like can be impediments to good health, creating imbalances that invite illness.
I enjoyed reading Kelly Turner’s book and recommend it. For someone looking for answers, this book should be among the materials they review. Assuredly, it will not be the only thing they read.