Some unexpected circumstances gave me the privilege of attending a book launch today, and when I got there, I was surprised to find the book was about a topic that (unfortunately) hits close to home: cancer.
As my friends would know, my dad passed away of colon cancer more than thirteen years ago (right before I turned eleven), and that part of my life went by in a blur because I didn’t really understand what was happening; I didn’t want to believe my dad was sick. Cancer was a like a death sentence then, and every night I made a prayerful bargain with God that I’d be a very good girl if only He wouldn’t take Papa away.
We spent so much time in different hospitals that I developed a phobia for them, and I got so traumatized by the whole ordeal that I began developing psychosomatic symptoms, like running a continuous fever every so often, for no particular reason.
Anyway, I meant to browse through the book Surviving Cancer: Stories of Hope by Singaporean oncologist Ang Peng Tiam (published locally by Anvil), but I ended up reading from start to finish even before the meal was completely served.
Dr. Ang Peng Tiam (who was present at the press conference — sorry, did not have a cam so no photos), is a senior consultant and medical doctor at the Parkway Cancer Centre at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. Surviving Cancer is a collection of anecdotal cases that Dr. Tiam has handled, touching on different cancer cases and how he treated them.
According to Dr. Tiam, “Cancer is not about death, but about living. I want to spread a message of hope, for patients to believe that they can get well, and to seek treatment.”
Surviving Cancer (book #68 for 2009 — bumped up the review because the book was lauched today, will get back to books 63-67 later; also book 12 for diversity challenge – science), while not exactly Chicken Soup for the Soul, is very interesting and candid (for a serious subject) without being unrealistic, and very readable despite the detailed discussion of various medical conditions and treatment options. There are also very graphic photos that made me lose my appetite but were very good in illustrating how effective cancer treatment can be.
I like Dr. Tiam’s psychosocial approach to treating cancer: giving the best possible support for cancer patients so they can have a good life, no matter how long or short the duration would be.
I also liked the chapter devoted to alternative treatments, because Filipinos are so fond of alternative medicine. He states that while patients should first and foremost seek conventional medical treatment, alternative medicine can be used to supplement the treatment as long as it does not pose harmful side effects. He cautions against alternative treatments that discourage all forms of medical procedures, e.g. an alarming case of a “wellness spa” that locks you in for a month and feeds you 150 tablets a day and tells you your cancer will grow/worsen before disappearing completely.
At the end of the book, there is a very useful checklist of signs and symptoms revised from the American Cancer Society, which may not be cancer but should be brought to your doctor’s attention: sores that don’t heal, a lump in the breast or other parts of the body, unusual bleeding, change in bowel habits or bladder functions, recent change in a wart or mole, indigestion or difficulty in swallowing, nagging cough or hoarseness, and problems with hearing.
It’s very good reading for cancer patients and their families, and even local oncologists I think, who can pick up a thing or two from Dr. Tiam’s methodology. I’m actually passing the book on to a friend who will have great use for this right now, and I hope this helps the family get through this trying time.
The book is available at National Book Store branches nationwide, approx. P360 (?).
My copy: trade paperback, to be passed on
My rating: 5/5 stars