You can conquer cancer Ian Gawler


Review by Yeong Sek Yee & Khadijah Shaari

Dr Ian Gawler, OAM, BVSc, a veterinarian and decathlon athlete before his diagnosis, is Australia’s most “notorious” cancer patient. He is the Founder and Therapeutic Director of The Gawler Foundation. A pioneer in mind/body medicine and long-term cancer survivor, Dr Gawler is an experienced and respected authority on meditation, self-help techniques and a healthy lifestyle. Dr Gawler began Australia’s first active cancer support group in 1981 and is on the Advisory Board of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association. In 1987, he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal.

At the end of 1974 Dr Ian Gawler, an ambitious young veterinarian and athlete, developed bone cancer (osteogenic sarcoma) in his right leg. In January 1975, the leg was amputated at the hip. While there were no signs of the cancer anywhere else in the body, he was told that only 5% of patients could expect to be alive five years after surgery. In fact, the cancer did reappear, and spread to his pelvis and chest in November 1975.

In December 1975, with widespread bony and pulmonary metastases, Gawler underwent 3 palliative radiotherapy treatments to the lower spine but he found it was ineffective for pain relief. Subsequently, the oncologist suggested a two year course of adriamycin, vincristine, cyclophosphamide and dacarbazine. However, after 10 weeks treatment, the cancer had only slightly diminished in size over the period of treatment. Despite his oncologist’s warning of “rapid rebound if treatment was ceased,” Gawler elected to discontinue further chemotherapy treatment.

By March 1976, Gawler’s cancer specialists thought that he would live only two more weeks. Gawler refused to give up, and began studying meditation and following a strict diet, pursuing an intense regime of research, introspection and personal development. Against all odds and prognosis, he tried all other available treatments. Later, his cancer began to retreat and he was eventually declared clear of cancer in 1978.

Watch his story on YouTube as follows:

1)      Interview with Ian Gawler, author of You Can Conquer Cancer


You Can Conquer Cancer was first published in 1984. Since then, it has been reprinted 16 times and translated into 14 languages. It has become one of the most widely-read books on the subject of cancer prevention and cancer management. At the time of publication, Dr Gawler’s ideas and concepts were regarded as innovative and controversial, but have since received substantial scientific recognition and validation both in Australia and internationally.

This new edition (published 2013), is completely updated and  enlarged upon what is a truly integrated, holistic approach to cancer; emphasizing diet, the power of the mind, meditation, family and social support and the spiritual dimension of life.

Dr Gawler is a firm believer of meditation, which he believes is the single most powerful self-help tool that assists recovery from disease and leads to a life of maximum health…and it has direct physical effects ranging from relief of physical tension to reactivation of the immune system. This perhaps, explained why the book has 6 chapters devoted to the principles and practice of meditation and mind training.

Likewise, Gawler devoted 4 chapters to explain the principles behind healthy nutrition, the foods that heal and the concepts of his Wellness Diet and the Healing Diet. To emphasize the importance of nutrition, let us share with you the following quotes from his book:

  • What is so special about the human species, the human body that leaves medical educationalists (what he means is the medical doctors) believing that what it eats is of no importance?
  • Food builds our body…if you want a junk body, eat junk food. Want a healthy body, eat healthy food. Want a body that just manages to function? Well, feed it whatever.
  • If you want a body that is capable of remarkable healing, then it makes sense to fill it up with the best fuel possible.

To be long term survivors, cancer patients (he calls them thrivers) must value what they eat as a major factor in their recovery….perhaps, Gawler’s most daring advice for all cancer patients is summed up in the following sentence:

“Diet is not the total answer to cancer, but without a good diet, there is no answer.”  

Watch his views on nutrition at the following:

2)      Dr. Ian Gawler: Eating Well Being Well at Spiritgrow Josef Kryss

Link :

Related to the practice of meditation for a calm mind, Gawler strongly believed that healthy emotions play an important part in healing. Let us give you his advice:

“Put simply, healthy emotions are authentic emotions. When emotions flow easily, comfortably, authentically; health and wellbeing follows. Stifled emotions, repressed emotions, fabricated emotions, all weaken the potential for healing as well as significantly reducing our sense of wellbeing.”

How then to change a deeply ingrained habit? How do we learn to release emotions safely? (Read Chapter 16 and 17 or consult a qualified hypnotherapist).

The author ended the book with a chapter on Death and Dying. Why is there such a chapter on death and dying? Isn’t this all about conquering cancer, about being positive and getting well? Let us share with you his wisdom:

“Many people have enough fear about dying to not only significantly inhibit their chances of recovery, but to adversely affect the very way they live. Learning how to transform the fear of dying leaves us free to heal. When we live a life informed by death, we really appreciate how precious life is, as well as how fragile it can be. So we value life; we value each moment.”


1)   THE GAWLER FOUNDATION: Since 1981 when Ian began one of the world’s first lifestyle-based cancer support groups, his work has expanded in three ways. One aspect is the focus on healing; another involves professional trainings and speaking engagements, while the third focuses on disease prevention, health and wellbeing.

Visit the Foundation’s website at:

2)   Dr Gawler’s personal blog…….do visit the blog and sign up for his newsletter, OUT ON A LIMB…very informative. Dr Gawler has written many other books on meditation and nutrition. You can view them in the above website/blog.


We introduced Dr Ian Gawler as Australia’s most “notorious” cancer patient. Why?

Watch out for the story later.