However, there has been lots of 'chatter' on various websites, along with a recent article in the New York Times, about the death of Steven Jobs being 'his fault' for the treatment path he chose for his type of pancreatic cancer. In addition, there has been a recent article in the Chicago Tribune highlighting the recent death of the French neuro-scientist David Servan-Schreiber, PhD, who first wrote the best-selling book Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life and more recently, knowing his brain tumor had relapsed 20 years after first being diagnosed, wrote the book Not the Last Good-bye, in which he essentially says there is 'no miracle cure for cancer' including any diet, exercise, or stress management program that can prevent a cancer from recurring.
Both men lived longer than many with the same diagnosis. Could they each have lived even longer if only they had done X, Y, or Z? There is no way to know if that would be the case, period, pure and simple.
I can say with close to 100% certainty that all of these 'Monday morning quarterbacks' commenting about the 'wrong' choices Steven Jobs made must have no idea, none at all, what it is like to personally face a cancer diagnosis, to seek out, understand, and choose among the myriad of choices, to sort out the potential help from hype from harm, no matter if you are trying to sort through 'conventional' cancer treatments or complementary/alternative/integrative treatments, whatever you want to call non-conventional cancer treatments these days. Frankly, it is extremely difficult for anyone to do that, even 'smart people', even 'rich people', even 'scientists', even 'medically knowledgeable' people, let along if you are 'none of the above'.
In addition, anyone questioning why blueberries did not cure Dr. Servan-Schrieber's brain tumor is putting a lot of hope and faith (and naiveté) in the word 'cure', let alone in any one conventional cancer treatment, one food, or even a total lifestyle. Cancer is wicked, nasty, completely unpredictable, and completely unfair. My father had a quick and awful death from lung cancer, having absolutely no identifiable risk factors. A man who established Ann Arbor's first organic farm in the early 70's had a fairly rapid death after a brain tumor diagnosis a few years ago. A close friend of mine died from breast cancer only a few short years after her surgeon looked me in the eye in the waiting room while telling me that her surgery had 'cured' my friend.
Don't misunderstand me. I am still hopeful. However, I know it is impossible to call the shot accurately 100% of the time. I do not like the word 'cure'. I also do not like the word 'remission'. Cure implies 100% certainty that cancer will not return. Remission implies that cancer will come back. I am somewhere in-between, where?, I am never sure, but when people do ask about my cancers, I prefer to tell people that I currently consider myself cancer-free until someone tells me otherwise.
I cannot say what I would have done had I been Steven Jobs. I cannot say what I would have done if I were Dr. Servan-Schrieber. What I can say is that it is impossible to say what you will do (and no one has any right to question someone else's decisions) until you are right there yourself, facing your diagnosis, juggling all the unknowns and your worst fears with your values, or experiencing your most alive feeling ever, no longer knowing only in the abstract that your time on this earth, in this lifetime, is truly limited.
I have only the deepest respect for each of these well-known men, both of whom showed us how to live a full life after a cancer diagnosis, a life looking fear in the face, a life that made a difference, and a life without complacency. My book, my life, my website and blogs have never offered a 'cure', only reasonable hope based on the best science available for both extension of life and enhanced quality of life for whatever time we each have remaining (whether one day or decades!).
When it is my turn, even if I do die from cancer, I will die knowing I have done both, i.e., extended my life and enhanced the quality of my life. In my opinion, both Steven Jobs and David Servan-Schreiber achieved the same. I have no doubts, none at all, that everything I have done by combining conventional cancer therapies with blueberries (etc), yoga, meditation, writing my book, dashing all over the country to speak, starting our farm, and now trying to 'slow down' (ha ha!) have allowed me to be fully alive. All of this has helped me 'stay hungry, stay foolish' (the send-off phrase that Steven Jobs used during his address at Stanford's graduation in 2005). Both of these men both did the same. Who can ask anything more from anyone who found himself on center stage of the grossly unfair world of cancer?
However, I will leave you with one thing to ask. Please start asking, and keep asking, over and over and over again, why aren't we focusing on finding the cause(s) of cancer that must be all around us? If you didn't read it last year, I do recommend reading the President's Cancer Panel Report of 2010 “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now”. Searching on your favorite search engine will bring you to the very readable document.
"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"
Diana Dyer, MS, RD