Chemo Kills

Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, a neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That KillsHealth & Nutrition Secrets to Save Your Life and Cancer Strategerieshttp://www.russellblaylockmd.com) wrote an article: How Modern Medicine Killed My Brother.

Let me quote some of what he wrote:

  • Earlier this month, I traveled to Monroe, La., to bury my dear older brother, Charles. Charles, unfortunately, began smoking when he was in law school, something I warned him about repeatedly.
  • After misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis, Charles was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer. Once the diagnosis was made, an oncologist was naturally called, who wanted to start a complete course of chemotherapy drugs.
  • I advised my brother against it, knowing the cancer would not respond and the toxic drugs would dramatically increase his breathing difficulties, hastening his death. He took my advice.
  • Then, a radiation oncologist suggested radiating the tumor to shrink it. I wasn’t supportive of this treatment, but my brother wanted something done. Soon afterward, he started five and a half weeks of radiation treatment.
  • The oncologist told Charles he was losing too much weight and he needed to eat more bread, pasta and even sweets to gain weight. …I told him that losing the weight would make it easier for him to breath. I had given him a copy of my book on the nutritional treatment of cancer and told him it was critical he follow the advice exactly.
  • Unfortunately, Charles decided he didn’t like the taste of the blenderized vegetables and would do what the oncologist suggested. He began to eat ice cream, cookies and other items that cancer patients should never eat. Once he finished the radiation treatments, he developed fever, severe shortness of breath and had to be admitted to the hospital… he had to be intubated and placed on a respirator.
  • The practice of medicine has changed drastically in the world, especially in this country.
  • The new breed of doctor, like my brother’s doctors … are convinced this “cookbook” medicine is superior and their elite journals and medical associations know best… they are mere cogs in the wheel …They are unable to think for themselves.
  • Unfortunately, doctors, like those who killed my brother, are being turned out of medical schools all over the country like robots.

Read carefully what Dr. Blaylock wrote and you will soon realize that such tragedy can happen anywhere and everywhere; over and over again. And yet no one seems to learn.

Let it be known, this is how the world operates — misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis; surgery, chemo or radiation if it is  cancer; eat anything you like, etc. etc. It is all the same in every hospital you are in no matter where you are. Then the patient may eventually dies! For those who can afford, not before spending a pile of money. Yes, the family feels good for putting up a great fight — heroic act, so to say, in trying to save their loved one.

I can fully understand how frustrated Dr. Blaylock felt having to go through the experience he had described — seeing first-hand how modern medicine killed his brother but being unable to do anything to help even though he himself is a medical doctor.

Chemo Kills

I decided to write this article to share with you my own experience, which is somewhat similar to Dr. Blaylock’s.  No, it did not happen to my own brother or sister, but a very close dear relative, two years younger than me.

Not too long ago (June 2015) this dear relative was diagnosed with a recurrent cancer. Unfortunately the cancer had spread to her liver which had ruptured, spilling fluid in the abdomen and pelvis. The cancer could have infiltrated the pancreas as well. The right lung was filled with fluid and the cancer could have also spread to her lungs.

Her CA 125 = 775.6; CA 15.3 = 234.5; and CA 19.9 =171.2

No doubt, to anyone who knows something about cancer, this is a very serious case with no chance of a cure. Her doctor wrote: she is not a candidate for surgery due to the advanced disease and also her poor general condition. However, she may perhaps benefit from systemic therapy. In simple language, she had to undergo chemotherapy (what else?).

I was not involved in any decision that the family made — rightly, this is what it should be.  Everyone in the family should have a say but no outsider involved!

Perhaps, as a matter of “courtesy”,  I received a call informing me that she was going for chemotherapy as advised by the “best oncologist in the best hospital” in the country.

On hearing this, I did my part — not to object to chemotherapy but to explain what chemo is (even if I am aware that the family consists of medically educated members). It took me more than an hour to deliver my simple but crude message: Chemo is going to kill her.  My estimation was she would not go pass three rounds of this poisonous treatment. She will die.

Round one of chemo caused much misery.

Round two of carboplatin resulted in an almost total disaster. She had to be hospitalised — she was weak, unable to walk, was very fatigued and had very poor appetite. All along, she was on morphine due to severe pain.  Her blood was low and she needed blood transfusion. Fluid had to be tapped out of her right lung.  At last, the doctor’s recommendation —  supportive cares, no further chemo.  In simple layman language they gave up on her after two shots of chemo.

It was at this point that the family went into a frenzy and started to call me for help. Needless to say, I was glad that the doctor had come to realise the folly of giving chemo to terminally ill patient. Chemo had been shown to add misery to the already miserable patient.

My advice to the family were:

  1. Let her stay in the hospital for a while more to stablize her condition after all the damage done.
  2. Okay, put in the blood because she is anemic.
  3. Take care of the diet …no rubbish food.
  4. Bring the house maid to our centre so that we can teach her how to cook “healthy food.”
  5. Drink juices. But can take porridge BUT no meat, egg, sugar, oil, etc. … a bit of fish okay.
  6. Once she is stable then we can slowly give her the herbs.
  7. From the medical reports, she needs a lot of herb teas but I am not going to be too ambitious or aggressive because after the chemo had destroyed the stomach lining, she may react badly to the herbs.
  8. Slowly, later, I shall replace the morphine with Pain Tea. But for now she can still take the painkiller because of the pain.

We need herbs for her liver, pancreas, lymph nodes, lung (even fluid in the lung) and abdominal distension / ascites. I have herbs for all these problems … but as I have said let her recover from the chemo damage first otherwise she would throw out all these.

Please let me know how she is recovering after the transfusion. Be sure that I am ready to do my best to help in whatever way I can.

Sadly, a day after I wrote the e-mail, a message came through that this dear relative died.

I took this news with a heavy heart but I expected this tragic end all along. I was sad at the same time angry because I felt helpless.

Nevertheless, after seeing deaths like this happen a hundred and one times, it dawned on me that the ultimate and  true healing for any terminal cancer patient is death. If possible, let death comes without pain or any added man-made sufferings.  Let us die with  dignity surrounded by our loved ones. Let us not die as a rotten vegetable. That is what I would want it to be — for me.

Do you really know what chemo is?

Onco dont tell the truth about chemo

Chemo one poison combination

Chemo kill  Compassonate onco Chemo kill patient

Chemo-MORE Harm than-g

Chemo-drug-makes-cancer-wor

Chemo drugs 3 percetn effective

 Chemo-and-Prolong-Life

Ang Peng Thiam

Chemo-Suffer-near-death

Wrong

Lies-Damned-Lies-and-Medica

Let me end by asking you to reflect on what Henry Ford and Albert Einstein said:

 Insanity both

To my dear relative. Now that you are gone, rest in peace with the Lord.

Heaven is such a beautiful place. In the not too distant future, we shall meet again.

Related articles:

https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2015/09/16/what-really-matters-at-the-end-of-life/

https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2011/11/26/the-cold-hard-facts-about-the-us-cancer-program-part-2-misguided-and-ineffective/

https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2011/11/03/dissecting-chemotherapy-11-no-chemo-for-dad%E2%80%99s-liver-cancer-%E2%80%93-wisdom-of-a-daughter/

https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2014/06/01/using-emotions-of-fear-or-hope-to-sell-cancer-treatments/

 

 

 

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What really matters at the end of life

At the end of our lives, what do we most wish for? For many, it’s simply comfort, respect, love.

BJ Miller is a palliative care physician at Zen Hospice Project. Listen to what he has to say.

Gist of what Dr Miller said:

  • The American health care system has more than its fair share of dysfunction … I’m a physician … a hospice and palliative medicine doc, so I’ve seen care from both sides. And believe me: almost everyone who goes into healthcare really means well — truly. But we who work in it are also unwitting agents for a system that too often does not serve.
  • Healthcare was designed with diseases, not people, at its center. Which is to say … it was badly designed. And nowhere are the effects of bad design more heartbreaking … than at the end of life.
  • For most people, the scariest thing about death isn’t being dead, it’s dying, suffering.
  • It can be very helpful to tease out suffering which is necessary as it is, from suffering we can change.
  • The former is a natural, essential part of life, part of the deal, and to this we are called to make space, adjust, grow. It can be really good to realize forces larger than ourselves. They bring proportionality, like a cosmic right-sizing.
  • After my limbs were gone, that loss, for example, became fact, fixed — necessarily part of my life, and I learned that I could no more reject this fact than reject myself. It took me a while, but I learned it eventually.
  • Another great thing about necessary suffering is that it is the very thing that unites caregiver and care receiver — human beings. This, we are finally realizing, is where healing happens. Yes, compassion — suffering together.
  • On the other hand, so much of the suffering is unnecessary, invented. It serves no good purpose. But the good news is, since this brand of suffering is made up … we can change it.
  • How we die is indeed something we can affect. Making the system sensitive to this fundamental distinction between necessary and unnecessary suffering … our role as caregivers, as people who care, is to relieve suffering — not add to the pile.
  • Palliative care — a very important field but poorly understood — it is not limited to end of life care. It is not limited to hospice. It’s simply about comfort and living well at any stage. So please know that you don’t have to be dying anytime soon to benefit from palliative care.
  • So much of what we’re talking about today is a shift in perspective. Perspective … turning anguish into a flower.
  • After my accident, when I went back to college, I changed my major to art history. Studying visual art, I figured I’d learn something about how to see — a really potent lesson for a kid who couldn’t change so much of what he was seeing.
  • In my work over the years, I’ve known many people who were ready to go, ready to die. Not because they had found some final peace or transcendence, but because they were so repulsed by what their lives had become — in a word, cut off, or ugly.
  • We know, from research what’s most important to people who are closer to death: comfort; feeling unburdened and unburdening to those they love; existential peace; and a sense of wonderment and spirituality.
  • We need to … set our sights on well-being, so that life and health and healthcare can become about making life more wonderful, rather than just less horrible.
  • I am asking that we make space — physical, psychic room, to allow life to play itself all the way out — aging and dying can become a process of crescendo through to the end. We can’t solve for death.

Comments

We are indeed fortunate to have a medical doctor to share his thoughts about death and dying. Many terminally ill cancer patients come to us hoping to find a “miracle” — hoping us to “cure” their cancer. Don’t be misled, we cannot cure your cancer! To make your life a bit better, may be. As Dr. Miller said, our role as caregivers, as people who care, is to relieve suffering — not add to the pile. Not to add more  man-made misery to the unnecessary suffering.

We always tell patients who come to us:

Be committed to your healing, change your lifestyle and diet and take the herbs. Go home and find peace with your Creator. If you can eat, can sleep, can move about and have no pain — then be grateful for what you are. When it is time to go, “go home” in peace. 

After hearing these words, gladly some patients fully agree with us. Perhaps, for some, the healing process starts if they realise and learn to “accept” the reality of the situation they are in.

TN was a 65-year old lady with lung cancer that had spread to her bones and brain. She had 5 times radiation to her spine and ribs (end of October to early November 2013), 5 times radiation to her brain (January 2015) and another 5 times radiation to her spine, hip and brain in April 2015.

In addition she took Tarceva, starting 15 November 2013 and  stopped in April 2015. The medication cost about RM 8,000 / month. She suffered dry skin and had a black spot on her nose after taking this medication (picture below).

Composite

The oncologist recommended chemotherapy since Tarceva was no longer effective. TN and her family decided not to go for chemotherapy as recommended by her oncologist. They came to seek our help in May 2015. She presented with constipation, breathlessness when walking, swelling of both legs and difficulty in sleeping (had to take sleeping pill). TN was prescribed some herbs and told to change her diet.

The following are two follow up e-mails from  her daughter.

Dear Dr. Chris,

My mom has taken the capsules & herbal teas for a week. Briefly here is her condition:

  1. She has regained some strength – she can walk longer.  Previously she felt breathless after 3 steps of walking.
  2. Appetite slightly improved. (Thanks to the variety of recipes from your wife’s cookbook)
  3. However she finds it difficult to speak more now due to shortness of breath.  Her speech sometimes slur.
  4. Still unable sleep well at night, feel tightness/heaviness in the chest.
  5. No constipation – she passed motion after drinking the constipation tea for three days (3 times).
  6. Stomach & feet remain bloated and swollen.

I have brought my mom to see the oncologist.  This is a follow up visit after the last radiotherapy session on 20 Apr.  The current X-Ray report is unfavourable.  She has a lot of fluid in her lung as compared to the previous X-ray. Oncologist recommended to flush out the fluid from the lung and this to be followed by pluerodesis. This is to give my mom some relief. I am quite concern of this and unsure if this will be beneficial to my mom.

Dear Dr. Chris,

My mother was discharged from hospital on Monday (25.5.15).

  1. The amount of fluids drained from her left lung is about 1.2 litres.  The fluids were mixed with blood.   We were informed by the doctor that was due to the bleeding from the tumour at her lung.
  2. In addition her left lung has also collapsed due to the fluids.  Thus, she is still experiencing shortness of breath when she walks far.
  3. From the x-ray reports, it was found that some of the bones at the spine area have became brittle (osteoporosis).  My mother was give 1 injection of XGEVA to relieve her pain.

Sadly, TN died not long after this. And this is the letter we received from her daughter.

Dear Dr. Chris,

My family and I would like to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for your kindness and efforts to help my beloved mother in her journey of cancer illness.

My beloved mother has passed away 2 weeks ago peacefully. I believe the herbal teas . medicinal herbs prescribed by your had helped a lot in making her illness less painful and rough.

Once again thank you for everything you did for my later beloved mother.

Best regards. Daughter of late Mdm TN.

Datukn Haji A was playing golf when he suddenly felt severe abdominal pain.  Subsequent medical check-up showed cancer in the pancreas that had spread extensively to his liver. The doctor told him to go home… no surgery or chemotherapy. Not knowing what to do, Datuk and his family flew to seek our help. Datuk told us, “I understand. The doctor indirectly told me to go home and wait to die.” He presented with severe pains. Indeed his condition was beyond “help.” Anyway, we prescribed him some herbs – at least to lessen his suffering.

The following are some e-mails that his wife wrote:

Fri, Aug 7, 2015

Dear Prof,

My husband hs been in great pain at his tummy & lower back especially in the evening & night till 4a.m. this morning.

This morning he woke at 8a.m., pain reduced.  Now after the superfood pain again. It relieves when  taking gastrovit in warm water. Thank you.

Dear Prof,

My husband’s condition is better today. Less feeling of vomiting, less pain at his tummy & able to do more exercise.  Thank you.

Dear prof,

He is in great pain now. since last night on off pain. Ok. If he can’t bear I’ll give him hospital’s pain killer. He said he will try to bear it till he can’t. He always feel good after gastrovit. Thanks Prof.

Dear prof,

Suddenly he feel much less painful. Can read newspapers. Will this pain subsides after 2 weeks?

Dear Prof,

Of course 2nd week better than 1st week physically (rashes on skin disappear,  energy level better, no vomiting, etc.) except for the pain inside which we don’t know why?

1st week pain was at the tummy. now no more at tummy and had gone to the back and at the bowel area. The pain could be sharp at times. He said, this week energy is better than last week except for the pain.I hope it is not the cancer attacking. Good night.

Dear prof,

The pain is so great he can’t lie down to sleep. Terrible. Backache. So worry. Is this normal?

Good morning Prof,

Last night  was better. This morning pinggang & bowel area not painful but lower abdomen (below pusat) pain & urine not good. Stomach & lower back skin dry. Still Hiccup. What to do? Thank you.

Dear Prof,

He is admitted to hospital. Kaki bengkak & not able to urine (now fix a tube to drain out) & sakit at pinggang & lower tummy. Stomach bloated. Doc injected pethidine.

Yes Prof.  His condition not good.

Thank you.
Sep 6, 2015 at 5:30 AM

Dear Prof & wife,

My husband passed away peacefully on 4th Sept 2015 @ 3.30am. Thank you for everything. The herbs help me a lot at this difficult time. No more discomfort at the tummy area. Thank you.

Let us end this article by highlighting a report in the mass media. Take time to reflect on this.

Survey shows nearly half Malaysian cancer patients go broke a year after diagnosed

See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/survey-shows-nearly-half-malaysian-cancer-patients-broke-a-year-after-diagn#sthash.rBFWg066.dpuf

A  survey was done in eight Southeast Asian countries, and in Malaysia, had followed 1,662 cancer patients in public and private hospitals through their first year following diagnosis, with 44 per cent of them at 50 years old or younger.

The Asean Costs in Oncology (Action) study by Sydney-based George Institute for Global Health made the following conclusions:

  • 44 per cent of respondents would survive the cancer with no financial catastrophe, while another 11 per cent died.
  • Around 51 per cent will be pushed into “economic hardship” after a year from diagnosis, with 49 per cent of them already used up all their personal savings, while 39 per cent of all respondents could not pay for their medication.
  • Of the respondents, 35 per cent could not pay for medical consultation fees, 22 per cent could no longer pay for their rents and mortgages, while 19 per cent of them just discontinued treatments altogether.
  • “The cost of cancer does not only affect patients, but also their families and society as a whole,” the institute’s Prof Mark Woodward said.
  • The survey found that the median age where Malaysians are diagnosed with cancer is at 52 years, and subsequently died at 59.
  • “Cancer diagnosis at stage III or IV (late stage) makes treatment more costly, less likely to succeed, and reduces chances of survival.”
  • It also found that patients become financially vulnerable from two reasons: high out-of-pocket spending on loans, debts and depletion of assets; and high treatment and medical spending.
  • The Action report said even patients in public hospitals face high out-of-pocket spending for many health services such as chemotherapy, biopsy, biomarker testing, innovative cancer treatments, and palliative care.
  • UM’s cancer epidemiologist Prof Dr Nirmala Bhoo-Pathy said the average cost for breast cancer treatment could reach up to US$15,000 (RM65,000) per year, and those earning less than US$1,100 (RM4,700) per month would have “a very difficult time” to pay for it.

Read more  Are Medical Bills Killing Patients?https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2013/04/11/are-medical-bills-killing-patients/

Question to ask: How do you want your life to end? Leave a hole in the family’s bank account? Many patients from Indonesia had to sell their houses or land before they died. You have a choice!

 

 

 

Malaysia’s Well Known Oncologist Died of Cancer

Yesterday I got a shock when I received an e-mail informing me that Dr Albert Lim Kok Hooi died of cancer. The first thing that struck my mind was: How could this be? Is it a hoax? I wrote back to the one who sent me the email that I could not believe the information. He then sent me this link: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2013/3/9/nation/12815175&sec=nation

In the article is the photo of Dr. Lim, the oncologist – this is my first time knowing how he looks like. From the article too I learned that his funeral was held at Trinity Methodist Church, Petaling Jaya. If this was in Penang, this is also the church Im and I worship in every Sunday – Trinity Penang.

I must say I do not know the late Dr. Lim at all, but I suspect we have “heard “of each other through our mutual cancer patients – he, an oncologist and I an alternative medicine practitioner (often referred to as quack or snake oil peddler)  who is on the other side of the great divide. Our patients went to see him for consultation and his patients came to see us after all those “scientific” treatments have failed them.

I also “know” him through his writing in the Star column. Dr. Lim was a prolific writer. And from his writings I learnt that his was an ardent and staunch supporter of “scientific medicine.”  I first learned of Dr. Lim as being the leading oncologist in Malaysia some 16 years ago when patients came to see me after consulting him.

As I surfed the Internet, I also stumbled onto what Dr. V. M. Palaniappan,Ph.D.  (I also do not know him as a person) wrote in  http://ecohealingsystem.blogspot.com/

I read a sad news today in The Star (Malaysian, p.16, Saturday, 9 March 2013). This reports the death of Dr. Albert Lim Kok Hooi, a great Consultant Oncologist who was just 60, due to CANCER. It seems he was passionate about many issues, including animal and human rights, the rights of underprivileged, unhealthy lifestyles and habits of people, and the like. Reading all about Dr. Lim, it appears he had been a wonderful human being, and has contributed to the society to the fullest. If he lived for another one or two decades, with this caliber and good soul, he could serve a lot more to humanity. I sincerely regret his loss. May God bless his soul, and to rest in peace!

Likewise, I too felt sad to know that Malaysia has lost one of its outstanding sons “too soon”. At age 60 because of cancer.  Allow me to extend our sincere belated condolence to his beloved family. As children of God, we believe his soul now finds rest and peace with the Lord.

I spent days surfing the Internet trying to find out more details or hints of what had really happened. Unfortunately, I was NOT fortunate. I could not find any information about his illness, although I had access to the articles that he wrote. The link to the 10-page listing of his articles are in:  http://archives.thestar.com.my/search/?q=Dr%20Albert%20Lim%20Kok%20Hooi

Dr. Lim also has his own blog: http://dralbertlim.wordpress.com/page/6/ And his most recent posting was on 13 January 2013. And he died on 9 March 2013 – that is, just about two months after that posting?   Sounds like a heart attack rather than cancer.

The questions that strike the mind are: When did he get his cancer? What cancer? What treatment did he undergo?  These, I believe, are fair questions to ask. I went through his articles trying to find out if he ever disclose or give any hint that he had cancer in his writing. I do not seem to find any.

Let me say that even though I have never met Dr. Lim, I found some of what he had written interesting, especially coming from an oncologist! I wish many doctors and oncologists have similar views like him.  Let me highlight what Dr. Lim wrote over the years in his articles in the Star. In fact, he was spot on regarding the issues below – and I hope cancer patients do take note of his advice seriously.  These are good advice!

Cry me a river, 9 December 2012

  • The cancer has been growing in your body for decades. It takes 10 to 20 years for the first cancer cell to transform to a mass of detectable and diagnosable cancer.
  • Take at least two weeks to a month to work things out. Do not embark on any treatment – surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy – until most of your questions are answered. And until your emotions are no longer on a roller-coaster.
  • Never be pushed to see any doctor against your wishes.
  • Choose your surgeon wisely. You should also choose your radiologist and your pathologist.
  • Needless to say, you choose your oncologist. Change your attending oncologist by all means if you are not satisfied with him/her.

http://thestar.com.my/health/story.asp?file=/2012/12/9/health/12417247&sec=health

A sickly sweet life, 7 October 2012

  • Sugar is as harmful to our health as tobacco and alcohol, and yet, by comparison, so little bad press is given to it. There is much science behind the harm of sugar.
  • All the food we take (even if it does not taste sweet) has sugar in it. Fruit and vegetables contain sugar to a varying degree. Eating fruit (whole, not canned or bottled) and consuming a healthy diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grain, blah blah blah) is more than sufficient for our caloric requirement.
  • The sugar and the sweetened condensed milk we spoon into our coffee and tea are harmful. And so is the sugar in sodas, rose syrup and other sweet drinks. Not to mention the sugar in candy, sweets, chocolates, doughnuts, cakes, nyonya kuih and biscuits encrusted with sugar.
  • All this sugar is refined sugar as opposed to unrefined sugar, which is found naturally in fruit, vegetable and meat. Refined sugar is usually made from cane sugar, but stripped of all its natural goodness.
  • The copious amounts of sugar we consume through all the sweet drinks and food make up another approximately 90 pounds (40.8kg) or more of sugar a year. This 90 to 100 pounds of refined sugar (whether sucrose or fructose) is, to use an accurate term, a poison, i.e. a harmful substance that has no benefit.
  • For starters, we should avoid all processed meats, including bacon (bak kua in our local context) and most sausages.

http://thestar.com.my/health/story.asp?sec=health&file=/2012/10/7/health/12127186

Fat chance of cancer, 13 July 2008

  • It also advises against eating more than 6 gm of salt per day. I can’t imagine what 6 gm of salt is but I do not add any salt at the table and I would reject all foods that taste perceptibly salty.
  • How do you tell the common folk that their 10 favourite foods are a no-no from the scientific health-wise point of view? Nasi lemak, roti canai, curry mee, wanton mee, burger, doughnuts, fries, char kuay teow, chicken rice and mee goreng are out.

http://thestar.com.my/health/story.asp?file=/2008/7/13/health/1567884&sec=health

Something about Dr C, 6 January 2013

  • Dr C also taught me a lesson in healthy eating. Whenever we dine together, I notice he attacks fruit and vegetables before all else. I begin with the canapés, he starts with the fruit. I end with the Coeur a la Crème, he ends with fruit.
  • You don’t know how very guilty I feel whenever I dine with Dr C. He tells me that the fruit will fill him up. That would make it difficult for him to consume much else. He drinks water mostly.

http://thestar.com.my/health/story.asp?sec=lifeliving&file=/2013/1/6/health/12522144

Only human, 10 June 21012 

  • My failing as a doctor is my impatience with the pronouncements of alternative and traditional medicine. I feel bad each time I try to explain science to my patients and know that at times I have hurt their feelings.
  • The rights of a patient matter a lot to me. This includes the right of privacy, and the right not to undergo treatment.
  • To me, it was her fundamental human right: to be treated, not to be treated, to map the rest of her life, to die at a time and manner of her choosing.

http://thestar.com.my/health/story.asp?file=/2012/6/10/health/11421917&sec=health

Of course, I must say you cannot expect me to agree with everything that Dr. Lim wrote. That is understandable. We stood at the opposite, extreme ends of the pole.  Nevertheless, let not our differences of knowledge, training or upbringing divide us. As human beings we are merely travelers on a journey of learning experience as we walk through life on this earth. Once our job is done, we are called HOME. No one lives forever. Doctors also get sick like any other mortals. And CANCER doctors do get cancer too. And they also can die of cancer. This is the reality or irony of life.

I am not a medical doctor. After teaching and researching in the university for 26 years I got involved with the alternative management of cancer. I used my scientific knowledge trying to find truth through a non-conventional view.

Dr. Lim’s death had brought forth one question I often ask myself. If one day I were to be inflicted with cancer – like those thousands who have come and to seek my help – would I keep this illness a secret? My blunt answer is: NO.  This is because I am here on earth for a reason – and I am on a journey to gain experience. I would want to share my trials   and tribulations with my fellow travelers. I believe it is important and fair on my part that I share with you not only my successes but also my bitter experiences. I take the view that my experiences would be useful lessons or examples for others to learn from. If I fail I have to tell you and warn you of the pitfalls of my journey. Some of you may not agree with my personal beliefs. That is perfectly okay with me too.

Recently, I interviewed a cancer patient and at the end of our conversation I asked if he would want me to cover his face for our video presentation. He said NO, there is nothing to be ashamed about if you have cancer. I did not commit any crime!  I have full respect for this patient and am very impressed and proud of such an attitude. To me, failure to win over cancer is not a failure.  I come to this conclusion because I have learned early in my cancer career that there is NO such thing as a (permanent) cure for cancer. You get cancer, you die. You may have a remission but that is not a cure. That seems to be the scenario all over the world today.

President Hugo Chavez died of cancer after four surgeries and lots of chemotherapy.  Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and she died after much chemotherapy.  Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer. In this blog, I have written about Tony Snow  who died of colon cancer that had spread to his liver. Then there was a story about Steve Jobs who died of pancreatic cancer. In fact the list goes on.

The world’s most iconic scientist of our time, Nobel laureate James Watson also has (prostate) cancer.  And I was told he refused to undergo the standard medical treatment. In his recent talk, Dr. Watson said: There’s now pretty good research that suggests that if you take a baby aspirin a day, you get less cancer … So every morning, I take an anti-inflammatory, to the laughter from the audience. He joined in with his own distinctive, raspy chuckle and shrugged, asking: Why not?  Watson also takes Metformin. The drug is normally taken by people who have type-2 diabetes, but research shows that fewer of those taking the drug get cancer.  He said: If this is right, this is a bombshell, and all chemotherapy should be done with Metformin.

 Source: http://today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/PRN-watson-and-cancer-193383.aspx

In his blog, Dr. Palaniappan raised some interesting questions about Dr. Lim’s “secret adventure” with his cancer. This is what he wrote (http://ecohealingsystem.blogspot.com/):

  • With all the credentials, Dr. Lim must have been a real … capable radiologist and oncologist…. how can Dr. Lim, a CANCER SPECIALIST, die of CANCER?
  • If a heart specialist, a child specialist, a skin specialist … dies of cancer, he/she can be excused … How can a CANCER specialist die of CANCER? How can a cardiologist die of heart attack?
  • If such best brains do not have the capacity to guard themselves, how are they going to protect the common people? How can we accept them as guardians of our health? Great and disturbing doubts appear to have risen.     

You may wish to ponder what Dr. Palani’s said. You may agree or disagree with him.

To me, Malaysia has lost a good doctor. If Dr. Lim were to leave behind his legacy by writing about his “battle” against cancer it would be a greater help to all of us.  If scientific medicine, which he believed in so ardently, has been so effective against cancer, what is it that went wrong that he had to die of cancer? I am sure this is the question that most, if not all, cancer patients want to know.

I am reminded of what happened in France in the 19th century at the time of Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard – two great scientists of that period. Pasteur was a chemist and microbiologist, who put forward the germ theory. According to him diseases are caused by infectious microbes, that impair the functioning and structures of different organ systems. This paradigm is the basis for the use of antibiotics today.

Pasteur’s contemporary and friend, an equally great scientist, Claude Bernard was a physiologist. He argued the germs are not as important as the body’s internal environment – what he called le milieu intérieur. According to Bernard, The constancy of the interior environment is the condition for a free and independent life. Bernard thought that the body becomes susceptible to infectious agents only if the internal balance – or homeostasis as we now call it – is disturbed. After all, there are billions of microbes and bacteria inhabiting our guts, our blood, our whole body. Why do we sometimes get sick from them and sometimes not? When a bacterial or viral agent is “going around,” as we say, why do some people fall sick while others remain healthy?

History has it that when Pasteur was on his death-bed, he said:  Bernard is right. The microbe is nothing. The environment is everything.  With that confession, the world is left a bit wiser!

Source:  http://greenearthfound.blogspot.com/2009/09/louis-pasteur-versus-claude-bernard-on.html

Death – The Ultimate Healing

Over the past weeks many things happened that prompted me to write this article about Death. To many people, especially those with loved ones who have cancer, to read or talk about death is probably the last thing that they ever want to do. The subject about death is a taboo – they want to only hear how to cure their incurable cancer.

  • A father wanted us to help his 3-year-old son who had neuroblastoma, Stage 3. After surgery the boy received three cycles of chemotherapy. The side effects were so severe that the father wanted to stop medical treatment altogether.
  • A son from Eastern Europe wrote about his 61-year-old father who had lung cancer that has spread his liver, lymph nodes and bones. He wrote, I was directed to you by a Malaysian colleague of mine whose relatives you have helped. Please don’t turn us away.
  • A lady from Indonesia wrote, I want to ask the best hospital for cancer in Penang. My problem is cancer in my right breast. Record from Dharmais (Cancer Hospital) since 4 July 2011 was to operation. I don’t want. I’m very afraid. What shall I do? Please I’m in trauma because my mother passed away with cancer in 1972. I have one son. Please help me.
  • A young lady wrote, I’m planning to go to your center in Penang regarding my sickness. My leukemia relapsed very recently and my doctor told me I probably have less than six months to live if I choose not to have anymore chemotherapy. And he said further chemotherapy can only buy me some time (probably two additional months) unless I have bone marrow transplant.  

I jokingly tell patients – we are your last one stop. The cases that come to us are usually beyond us to cure. We trust and pray that God will do the miracle – this is His decision not ours. This is our motto – Our hands but God heals. When we first started CA Care, some critics say we are giving the dying false hope.  Over the 16 years that CA Care is around, we are happy to say that many miracles did happen at CA Care. Make no mistake, we are under no illusion. Neither are we a religious fanatic. Over the years we always call a spade a spade and we face reality without any pretence. Death is a reality – it can happen to you or me, anytime – irrespective of whether you get cancer or not. Perhaps with cancer, the journey to the grave seems somewhat shorter!

Our struggle and responsibility is obviously beyond us to bear. We derive much comfort in Reinhold Neibuhr’s often quoted prayer,

God grant us the serenity to accept things we cannot change,

Courage to change the things we can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

For those who are more conscious, perhaps they might have read the small poster put up at our centre. This is what it says,

“No one lives forever,

Therefore, death is not the issue.

Life is.

Death is not a failure,

Not choosing to take on the challenge of Life is.

Someday, when you’re tired, bored and sore,

And you want to leave your body,

Your death will be a healing ~ Bernie Siegel, 1990.

On 6 October 2011, Steve Jobs — the genius of Apple Computer died of pancreatic cancer. I have never heard of his name before, in spite of his fame. My son probably did because he is an iPad and iPhone  fan. This time I was a bit curious why a man so endowed with wealth could ever die of cancer? Is it because of lack of chemo-drug, good oncologist or good hospital? If this happened to a common person, we can always shift the blame to something like no proper medical care, or health care professionals who are not competent enough, etc. etc.  But these excuses do not apply to Jobs.

As I surfed the net, I stumbled onto what Jobs said at the Stanford University commencement speech in 2005. Let me quote what he said that day.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.”

What Jobs said impressed me indeed. These words came from him a year after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – a serious and incurable disease. He did realized from the very beginning how Nature operates. Like a big, growing tree – as new branches and leaves develop, the old branches and leaves will drop off to make way for the new. It is only in this way can the tree grow bigger and bigger.

Dr. Robin Kelly (in Healing ways – a doctor’s guide to healing) wrote, Fear of death is seen as a necessary part of modern medicine. All that can be perceived is loss and failure.

Those who have been spiritually awakened can appreciate the view that death is a natural process and is not a failure. Dr. Bernie Siegel (in Peace, Love & Healing) wrote, It is how we face up to our illnesses and how we take on the challenge of our mortality that determine whether we are successes or failures.

Reality

  • Professor Raymond Tallis (in Hippocratic Oaths) wrote, Birth remains a one-way ticket to the grave. If disease does not destroy us, external events – accidents, war, natural disasters – will bring about our demise. The best we can hope for is harmonious decline.
  • Dr. Bernie Siegel (in Peace, Love & Healing) said, It is important that we realize that we can never cure everything. We will never find … cures for all diseases. Dying can be a healing, ending a full, rich life for someone who is tired and sore and in need of rest.

Human Attitude

Some of us live our lives as if life is forever. We hear of others die – relatives, friends and celebrities, but how many of us ever thought or believe that it could be our turn the next time?

  • Writer William Saroyan humourously made this remark during the final hours of his life, I always knew that everyone dies, but I really thought there would be exception in my case.
  • Dr.  David Simon (in The Wisdom of Healing) wrote, As I board airplanes these days, I have the thought that every person who died in an airplane crash did not believe that his or her life is about to end. Although we all know there is the possibility of our dying on any given days, we are fairly certain it is NOT today.
  • Professor Raymond Tallis  (in Hippocratic Oaths) wrote, Death will always be premature – at least for the one who is dying. A late death is never late enough.
  • Dr. Jerome Groopman of Harvard University (in How Doctors Think) wrote, Understandably, people want the home run. But often in oncology what we achieve is less than that. And the risk is, by going for the home run, you can strike out.

What Do We Really Know About Death?

The above question is posed by Dr.  David Simon (in The Wisdom of Healing).  He attempted to give his answers.

  • Hamlet calls death “the undiscovered country” – and  how can we describe a landscape that lies off the edges of our maps and beyond the reaches of our telescopes? For most of us, only one fact is certain about death … someday we will indeed die. Fear is that one certain fact – we know that we’re afraid of death. But again, what do we really fear from something we understand so little about? It’s certainly true that nobody know what’s going to happen. But whatever we may believe … each of us is going to face it alone – and I believe that this utterly solitary quality of the death experience is one of the most important sources of our fear.
  • A second component of our fear of death derives, I think, from a sense of impending powerlessness. At the last moment… what if there are still a lot of things we want to do? Almost all of us live with, “If only I had …” or “ I should have …” or “I could have …”

Just as a blazing fire can burn a log to a fine ash, by really experiencing everyday to the fullest we can eliminate regrets and residual guilt-ridden emotions from our consciousness. If we can fully process the events and relationships of our lives – really digest them – we can leave the table without hunger when the feast is finished.

Personal Life Experience – Do you really want to live?

David Tate (in Health, Hope and Healing) shared his healing journey with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He wrote,

  • A diagnosis of cancer can be scary, even terrifying … I woke up the next morning. After breakfast I went to my study where I could be alone. There in the quiet, after several minutes of internal silence, a question popped into my mind. “Do you really want to live?” It seemed like a strange question. Of course I wanted to live! I was afraid of dying, that was for sure. Afraid of the pain, the helplessness, the humiliation, the loneliness. “But do you really want to live? “The voice persisted … “Did I like being alive?” “Did I really enjoy living?”
  •  …. If I have to be honest there were a lot of reasons why life was no longer attractive to me. Did I dare admit that some part of me was disappointed? Could I admit that I might shirk my responsibility because, for reasons deep inside, I did not really want to live?
  • So now the truth. I was disappointed with my life. I was disappointed with myself. Sure, I loved my wife and children. I wanted to live for them. But what about wanting to live for myself? Yes. And no. I was ambivalent about life.
  • Depending upon the day, the mood, perhaps even the weather, I would have a different emotional message for my body. One day I would tell it I wanted to live; life was good, fun, enjoyable. Another day I was telling it I wanted to die; life was disappointing.
  • I told myself. Now that you know the truth about yourself, what are you going to do about it? Change, change – I whispered. Reclaim you dreams – I told myself.
  • A final thought – illness can be the catalyst for making deeply needed changes that results in a more meaningful and satisfying life. This has been my experience – illness is a path that can lead to inner riches.

Over these years, this is one lesson we learn – there is no cure of cancer! But there is healing and it is within you. There is no short cut. You have to work for it. Earn it the hard way. The most difficult thing to make patients understand is the need for them to change – change their perspectives about life, change their life style and habits, change their diet, change their attitude, etc. etc.

Many patients come to us with a one-track-mindset of wanting us to cure their cancer with minimal effort on their part and with the minimum of discomfort – never mind if they had chemotherapy before and suffered severely. Some even expect us to offer help via remote control and e-mail, in the comfort of their homes. If the words written by Tate above bring no deep meaning to your heart, your chances of winning over cancer is very remote indeed.

As I have told many patients. By talking to you for five minutes, my intuition will tell me whether I can help you or not. Similarly, by reading your emails to me and they way you write, I could roughly decipher to what extent I could help.

I often ask cancer patients – Do you love yourself? Of course the intelligent brain would say Yes, but I am too sure what your soul has to say. Another question would bring out the truth, Why don’t you drink your herbal tea?  Answer: I have no time to boil it. How could you ever say you love yourself when you don’t even have time to take care of yourself? What do you do with all your time in this world? Of course you may have all your reasons – but where is your priority?

Take another example of a lady who wrote me these words. Her mom has lung cancer that has spread to her bones. She wrote, Per doctor’s advice, the lung cancer had spread to the pelvis in just a couple of weeks which accordingly is very fast. We will hand our mum in your good hands for us. Can we appeal for your help to assist our mum in the best way that you can please?  Please do all possible to help us.

I replied, You are from Penang. If you want to take the herbs and take care of the diet, start now. Come and see me Sunday night and I shall prescribe the herbs.

Her response, By the way, we need not bring our mum over, will it be OK?

The above communication sent a chill into my spine! We can assist patients in need but to “hand over” the sick to us to care is beyond us. It has to be you and your brothers and sisters who should take the lead with our guidance. Then, another  disappointment – she may have whatever reasons for not wanting to bring her mom to our centre. But is that the best thing to do? And she is from Penang. And she could bring her to the Hospital – why not to CA Care? Again, let me say, if patients or their care givers don’t understand that they have to change and work for their healings, our efforts to help others would be futile – a wasted effort.

The Challenge

  • Dr. Bernie Siegel (in Peace, Love & Healing) wrote, No matter how sick we are or how close to death, as long as we are alive we have the chance to make something of our lives. Those who rise to the occasion will find that no matter what the outcome of the struggles, they have created something beautiful. For we die as we live.
  • In another book of his (Love, Medicine & Miracles) Dr. Bernie Siegel wrote, You create your own opportunities out of the same raw materials from which other people create their defeats.

Death is always stalking us, and this is the driving force to live a life of meaning, ever alert to the miraculous opportunities available at every moment.

  • There is an Indian saying, When you are born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die the world cries and you rejoice. To me, this is the secret of how we can triumph and give meaning and beauty to our own death. We leave this world with a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing the we have done our best to make it a slightly better place to live for those we leave behind.

In her 479-page book, Holding Tight, Letting go – living with metastatic breast cancer, Musa Mayer wrote, Many of the people I interviewed:

  • Sought peace of mind through surrender to a will greater than their own. They accepted that death and pain and loss were a part of living. They let go of illusions of immortality and entitlement and found comfort in the contemplation of natural cycles of living and dying.
  • Spoke often of the importance of living in the moment, of how they had learned to savor time with the people they loved and to seek out experiences that had meaning to them. 
  • Kept hope alive by defining their goals and expectations to more closely match the realities of their illness. With mortality no longer a questions – what can you hope for?
  • Became expert in reframing their experiences with illness as challenge. Even in the most dire of circumstances without denying or diminishing the pain and fear, they sought out the benefits that were there to be found. They opened themselves up to new insights. They saw their lives with cancer as both a journey of discovery and a struggle to maintain themselves in difficult circumstances.

One patient wrote, I have been asked how I could achieve such calm while facing death. What is the alternative? The only other choice I can think of is to cry, to scream and yell, and just give up – but all that would be a waste of this precious gift of time.

Where does my strength come from? Nature  –  trees and hills, snow and flowers, the little animals. All these have been a source of solace … As a kid, I often found peace and comfort in the city park … Whenever I have turned to the natural world for guidance, I have not been disappointed … The trees do not mourn their autumn as the leaves fall at the appointed time. New ones are ready to replace them. Death and regeneration exist together everywhere I look in nature. Why should I be different?

Each of us can find meaning in different ways. Have courage and try to find something  that bring most meaning and joy to your life during these last days on earth. When the time comes for you to go, Go in peace. 

Facing Death

Dr. Robin Kelly (in Healing ways – a doctor’s guide to healing) wrote, Working with the dying, has given me more insights into spiritual matters … in dying, healing is at its most profound. Once the dying person has let go, a peaceful calm follows. This late stage can have a wonderfully soothing effect on those privileged enough to be present. I have felt the most relaxed in my life sitting alongside the bed of a dying person – no need to talk or plan, no better place to be.

Guide to visiting the dying:

  • Treat the person exactly as you usually do. Be yourself. Be spontaneous.
  • Talk about the issues of the day. The present is still important to the dying.
  • If he or she is resting, sit quietly and soak up the peace.
  • Respect the dying person’s right to solitude, if this is his or her wish.
  • It is not disrespectful to smile or laugh. This can relax both of you.
  • If near a window, comment on the day and nature. Make sure there are healthy flowers or plants in the room.
  • Value each moment together. Treat each as a precious gift.

Kenneth Caine and Brain Kaufman (in Prayer, Faith and Healing) had another perspective on how to care for  the dying. Someone we love is dying … or confronted with a life-threatening illness. We feel empathy, certainly, but we may also feel awkward with them because we don’t know what to say or do. Do we talk about the situation or do we ignore it?

There is a tendency to treat dying people differently. Voices are often lowered. Don’t do that, says Dr. Miller. This loved one or friend is the same person they have always been. They are as full of life as we are. Treat them as equals. They don’t want pity; they want compassion. They want to be treated as very much alive. They want to live as fully as they are able. Here are other rules of thumb from Dr. Miller.

  1. Don’t go it alone.  We shouldn’t try to be the sole caregiver and do everything ourselves. We won’t be able to. We’ll get frazzled and upset. We need to encourage others to help, and when they offer, take them up on it.
  2. Let the loved one lead.  They have needs, so we should let them make basic decisions about their care and their environment.  The patient, if possible, should decide which doctors, which hospitals and what treatment they want. Those are not our decisions, they are theirs. It’s their life. Let them chose how to live it.
  3. Draw them out. Sometimes the most valuable thing we can do is listen. When someone is dying or on the verge of dying, they usually need to talk to others, but they may not know where to start. We can talk about how they’re feeling, encourage them to relay memories, and let them know that we’re there for them if they need to talk. And when they do need to talk, we should let them. And at times when they do not feel like talking, it’s okay to just be there. Often, a gentle touch is also appreciated. It, too, is a form of communication.
  4. Get advance directives. That’s the proper term for a living will. While the loved one is still able, we should help them draw up instructions for their care should they become so physically disabled that they are unable to communicate. In addition, make sure that their will and other important documents are in order and as they would like them to be.

Hold the world tightly yet lightly, Embrace life with all our hearts and might

Excerpts from the book: Why Me? by Pesach Kraus

This lovely, small book was given to us by someone (we don’t know who, signed as D.R.) with a handwritten note: Mr. and Mrs. Teo: I would like to share with you of what I have benefited from this book. My niece and a friend were your patients. This book is out of print for more than ten years. It was brought by a friend from Canada. Thanks D.R. My wife and I got to read this book. Let’s share it with others too.

The Author: Pesach Krauss is a Jewish rabbi and is a chaplain at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York – one the most prestigious cancer hospitals in the world. He devoted his time caring for the sick and the dying. Indeed, Rabbi Krauss had great strength and compassion in spite of the fact that life had been very cruel to him since his childhood days. His father migrated from Russia to the US. They lived in poverty. At the age three a streetcar rolled over his leg and as a result he had to have an artificial limb. His first wife died of cancer.

In Chapter 7: Life: A Precious Gift to Hold with Open Hands, Rabbi Krauss wrote:

When Muriel, my first wife, became ill with cancer and took a turn for the worse, we all knew that her days were numbered. Suddenly time became very precious … What do you tell someone who is fatally ill … Do you hide the facts? Some people do … but not with Muriel. We faced it together, bore the heavy burden together, as one family. Every step of the terrible journey was revealed. She wanted it that way.

At the outset Muriel made it very clear – she would not trade pain for time. Every moment was precious because so little time was left. Since drug would rob her of time and of her senses, she wouldn’t take drugs – until the pain became unbearable. Petty and useless talk disappeared. Each conversation became precious. Time, each moment, each hour, each day, became precious and was savored. Each sunrise was a glorious surprise.

I learned so much from those last days we spent together. How priceless are those simple things – sunlight, a moment, a touch, family, friends, love. And how careless we are of our most valued treasures. We take them for granted.

After my wife’s funeral I was approached by a member of my congregation, who said: Rabbi, my son was very upset at the injustice of your wife’s death. He wants to know, “How can you believe in God?”

Some people ask why this tragedy happened to me. Why does God allow people who are so much worse, even evil, to go around hurting others and yet enjoying life while my wife, who was filled with the love of her people, so gracious and so wise, was taken away?

I never asked such questions. Actually, these are not good questions because they don’t make the right assumptions about life.

What then are the right assumptions?

Life isn’t a matter of comparisons – my life in terms of someone else’s life, the number of my years versus the number of somebody else’s years, my joy against another’s, one way of death against another way of death. The judgment of God’s justice and mercy is not in the mathematics of the years, nor in the sum of birthdays and anniversaries.

If we died, the next moment of our life would be complete in itself. So was Muriel’s life. So is each person’s life – unique, complete in itself. So Muriel’s life was not short because the life of another person may have had more years. Nor was her life less blessed because her passing was through the gates of pain.

Where then is God? Where was He in Muriel’s life? Where is He in anyone’s life? These are the questions to ask: Was her life rich? How many lives did she touch? Was she a blessing to her family, friends and people with whom she had contact? Did she take her joys humbly and gratefully? Did she meet sorrows courageously? Was God present?

She was grateful for joys and never took them for granted. Each day, to her very last, she said the blessings: Thank you God for keeping me in life. Thank you God for another day. She saw life as a gift from God. A gift of which we are not deserving and which we could never repay and which someday is returned.

From my own experience, I learned the great truth of human existence: One must not hold life too precious; one must always be prepared to let it go. Muriel understood this and taught me. She held on to life, hands tight, because she treasured the moments as a gift – yet hands open to release because she know that life, though precious, was a gift to be relinquished and returned.

Could I have held on to my beloved even one moment longer – and put time in a deep freezer? Could I have enjoyed sunlight even one day longer with her, no matter how hard I tried? Could I have prevented night from falling? That moment had to pass. No power on earth could have retained it. Had I tried to hold back the irresistible force, it would have been a losing battle. At the end, I would still be left empty-handed and BITTER about my loss.

Sooner or later we must bid farewell to the persons and things we love. Sometimes the separation is slow and peaceful and sometimes it is swift and violent. But the inevitable LETTING-GO is something we must learn to accept and comes to terms with. As I see it, nothing can be more undignified than a futile attempt to retain what must be released … Many men and women cling so hard to a youthful image that they can’t grow older gracefully… parents can’t let go of their children, interfering with their lives, inflicting scars …….

This is a hard lesson to learn. I think of those who have suffered loss of a dear one or a loss of health who are NEVER RECONCILED and who corrode their years and the lives of those around them with deep mourning, depression and bitter complaints. Withdrawing from the sunlight into the dark shadows of despair, they forget that they are depriving loved ones who need them and that they have so much to add to life.

How do we let go of someone dear to us who has died?

 …Our focus must shift from a direct relationship to the departed to an identification with values formerly shared. In that way, we free ourselves from the cold grip of the past to embrace warm and tender memories and action for the present.

A year following my wife’s death, I delivered a sermon: … I want to say to the husbands and wives who love one another, never accept your good fortune casually. In your breakneck pace through life, stop for a few moments and say a prayer in gratitude. Thank God for each day; don’t take it for granted, while yet His sunlight shines on you.

To parents, I want to remind you how precious is the gift of your children. Thank God each day for children; be aware of their little aggravations, but see the good and joy as well.

I want to urge myself and all others, to hold the world tightly yet lightly – to embrace life with all our hearts and all our souls and all our might. For it is a precious gift.

In Chapter 14 Rabbi Krauss wrote:

When my wife died, I felt I had been robbed of a precious treasure. However, the prayer that I recited each day gradually began to change my bleak mood: God, you created the soul … that you breathed into me. You return it to me each day after my night of sleep. Someday you will take it back from me. As long as I have breath, I shall thank and praise you.

My mind and heart are locked into that prayer. I meditated long and hard and recalled many memories, good and happy. The insight, simple but yet profound, came to me that life is indeed a gift to which I am not entitled and for which I should be profoundly grateful, and I should respond by making every moment an opportunity for achievement, for paying back as a partner with God and creation.