In June 1997, Paul Kraus was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given only
a few months to live. He rejected surgery, radiation and chemotherapy,
and more than eight years later, he is alive with a good quality of life. InSurviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers: A Patient's Guide, Mr. Kraus offers solid practical advice on what he did to beat the odds
so that others can too.
Click here for more information.
One day in 1997 at the age of 52, I went to my doctor complaining of a
protrusion from my navel. Almost instantly he diagnosed an umbilical hernia
and referred me to a surgeon to have it repaired. The surgeon assured
me that this was a routine minor procedure and there was nothing to worry
about. While repairing the hernia, the surgeon noticed a large quantity
of fluid leaking from my abdominal cavity. He drained the fluid and conducted
an examination with a laparoscope. During that procedure he discovered
that I had extensive tumors growing on the peritoneum, the lining of the
Following the surgery I was given the grim news that these tumors were
not only great in number but that they were also advanced. The surgeon
told me quite bluntly that from what he had seen he didn't feel that
I had much hope at all, although he still thought that I should see an
oncologist. A definitive diagnosis would have to wait until the results
of the pathology were known. This happened almost three weeks following
the surgery. The pathologist's report indicated mesothelioma, the
asbestos-related cancer. Usually, this condition is in the lungs but very
rarely it is found in the peritoneum, the lining of the abdomen.
We quickly learned that both types of mesothelioma were incurable and ultimately
fatal, and my prognosis was less than a year to live. My wife and I were
shocked, fearful and feeling very vulnerable in the days, weeks and months
following my diagnosis. Stress was a major problem. This was especially
so when we visited doctors in the bewildering and de-personalizing public
health system. We went to find a number of medical opinions in the quest
to know more about what possible treatment options were available. The
orthodox therapies of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy were
palliative, which meant they were not curative but were designed to possibly
extend survival time. Unfortunately, these treatments would certainly
compromise my quality of life. One oncologist suggested a surgical procedure
to de-bulk the tumors. This would necessitate fairly major surgery that
included removing the omentum, the sac holding together my organs within
the peritoneum. Like the other options, the oncologist warned me that
the surgery would not be curative. The problem was that my quality of
life was still good and I wanted to keep it that way. Further, we discussed
the possibility of surgery with our family doctor who practiced an integrative
model of medicine, integrating conventional and complementary therapies.
He was not warm to the suggestion of major surgery. That option was dropped.
My wife and I immediately set about researching as thoroughly as we could
every aspect of mesothelioma , as well as cancer in general. I devoted
all my energy to convert my ignorance and bewilderment into knowledge
that would help me turn this illness around, or at least halt its progress.
In the days following my diagnosis I began a radical lifestyle change that
would affect every facet of my life. I commenced a rigorous 'anti-cancer'
diet: plenty of fruit and vegetables (predominantly organic), plenty of
whole foods - especially grains, nuts, rice and tempeh as well as becoming
totally vegetarian. (Tempeh is a food made by the controlled fermentation
of cooked soybeans.) I began a regime of juicing, starting with four or
even five carrot and celery juices each day. I tried to obtain organic
carrots whenever possible. The chief rationale for drinking juices was
that they are full of nutrients and enzymes that help fight diseases and
promote the immune function. Juices also provide instant nutrition as
they are readily absorbed. In addition, the carrot juice helped to make
my system more alkaline and oxygenate the blood. (An acidic system is
not conducive to healing.) Further, the beta carotene is a readily absorbed
form of Vitamin A that helps fight cancer. I avoided refined and processed
food, as well as anything fried. I also avoided cane sugar as there is
some evidence that the glucose molecule is well utilized by cancer cells.
The goal of my new nutritional regime was to not only gain premium nourishment
but to detoxify the body and thereby give my body the best chance to fight
this illness. I also started taking nutritional supplements. This was
a regime that I modified quite considerably over time. The mainstay of
these supplements was a course of experimental intravenous treatment involving
Ukrain (see the chapter on Conventional & Complementary Therapies)
and high doses of Vitamin C - both intravenous and oral. This lasted almost
What factors gradually brought acceptance and a slowly growing confidence
in my ability to heal? They were numerous. Perhaps the most important
of these was my belief that it was not yet my time to go. I was fiercely
determined to do everything I could to remain healthy and stay around
for a while. My family needed me and I had things to contribute to my
fellow human beings. It was simply not my time. The loving support of
my wife and two sons was a huge impetus to stay well. I know that love,
like hope, has definite physiological side effects and produces endorphins
and other hormones that help in the healing process. I read in books such
as Dr. Candace Pert's Molecules of Emotion that the mind and the body
I also read widely, not only about cancer and its treatments but, more
importantly, inspirational books such as Dr. Bernie Siegel's Peace
Love & Healing and Love, Medicine & Miracles and Dr. Andrew Weil's
Spontaneous Healing. I learned to meditate and found the benefits of it
enormous in helping to balance my life and release me from stress and fear.
With the passing of time I learned, as if by way of revelation, that healing
is a slow process. At times, despite prayer and meditation, I lost perspective
on the situation, especially when I presented for a CT scan, which in
those early times was almost every three months. My family doctor, whose
treatments included hypnotherapy for stress reduction, chided me for being
impatient when I complained one day that I was 'still not having any
cancer treatment' about four or five months following my diagnosis.
He reminded me that the holistic regime I was following was highly therapeutic.
Further, the CT scan results and blood test results, although they could
have been better, still left me feeling not too bad at all. Despite my
distended abdomen from the ascites, or fluid, I had no pain and looked
Very gradually I felt that my condition had stabilized. I learned to listen
to my body. I made sure to exercise daily, as well as to visualize the
fluid in my abdomen receding. Intuitively, I knew that my regime was working.
All the while I maintained my juicing and diet and did not allow for compromise.
I knew that I was battling an illness for which conventional medicine
had few answers.
I kept a journal of prose and poetry and found that strategy to be a useful
way of expressing my emotions. Whereas my illness had completely dominated
my life in those first twelve months I gradually regained my balance and
learned to put the illness into perspective. Looking back on those times
I find it quite ironic that my cancer diagnosis was, in a strange way,
a blessing. I interpret that event as a sign that God had tapped me on
the shoulder and sent me a wake-up call to change the direction of my
life. For years I had been meaning to address those things in my life
that were causing me grief, especially my inability to control my stress.
I had experienced a fairly major mid-life crisis and left secondary school
teaching to buy a business. My attempt at buying a bookstore was, to my
deep disappointment, unsuccessful. I compromised by buying a health food
store. Little was I to know the long-term consequence of that decision
was to help save my life. Going into the health food business gave me
a deep interest in natural health and nutrition - knowledge that served
me well as I began to fight one of the most dangerous forms of cancer.
Diagnosed with only a few months to live, I am still alive many years later.
The years since my diagnosis have shown that my cancer has been arrested.
It no longer grows or spreads. I am not cancer free but that does not
disturb me at all. I have made a choice to live each day in the present
moment. That is not to say that I haven't set goals. Rather, it suggests
that I have learned to shed the regrets of the past and not to worry about
what might happen in the future. Since this watershed in my life I have
made a deliberate choice to stay positive.
My spirituality is the foundation of virtually everything else. I now know
that there are no coincidences in life. Everything has a purpose and a
plan, even when that purpose may be hidden from our eyes. I have learned
that life is mysterious and, for the most part, despite the pain and grief
that is part of our existence, beautiful. Spirituality is, among other
things, the ability to find peace and a sense of purpose in life. It is
as much a state of being as a state of mind. I have learned that what
Dr. Bernie Siegel calls 'the four faiths' is crucial to recovering
from an illness such as cancer: faith in oneself, one's doctor, one's
treatment and one's spiritual faith.
Over the years my nutritional supplements: vitamins, minerals, herbs and
amino acids have been monitored by my medical herbalist, doctor or another
health professional who I visit from time to time. My body lets me know
when things are not quite right. I spend a great deal of time trying to
assist others who find themselves in my predicament. My journey of healing
has not been easy, yet it has been a time of great blessing and revelation
about living a more fulfilling and joyous life. I thank God for that unexpected
watershed day back in mid 1997.
In my eighth year after diagnosis I remain well. I have outlived my prognosis
by at least seven years and the medical specialist I visited not long
ago told me that 'you will be around for a lot longer yet.' My
survival has been hard work. The underlying assumption with all that I
have done, and continue to do, is a strong belief that our bodies are
designed with amazing self-healing capacities. Further, there is much
that we can do to maintain wellness. I also believe that we are multi-dimensional
beings - mind, body and spirit - and we must nourish each dimension if
we are to heal.
The aim of this book is to help you learn how to optimize your self-healing
capacities and confound the statistics. It describes what worked for me
in overcoming my "terminal" diagnosis and presents a road map
to recovery. It is certainly not intended to be a detailed reference book
on every type of cancer treatment available (however, there are useful
references in the Bibliography) and it in no way purports to provide medical
information. Rather, it is written in the framework of addressing the
person, not just the illness. It also provides information that in all
likelihood your doctor does not have time to give you. Foremost, this
book is designed to help you understand that because cancer is life threatening,
you need to take it very seriously and 'do whatever it takes'
in your fight against it. It also aims to give you the precious commodities
of comfort and hope.
Chapter One, A Diagnosis, Not a Death Sentence discusses my diagnosis,
what I learned about mesothelioma, how to react to a dire prognosis, the
importance of the doctor-patient relationship for healing, and introduces
the treatment regime I followed. Chapter Two, The Emotional and Spiritual
Principles of Healing discusses the impact of stress on cancer, the significance
of the "faith factor," hope and love, positive thinking, forgiveness,
and thankfulness. Chapter Three, The Role of the Mind in Healing focuses
on the value of adopting a positive mind-set, the mind-body connection,
the mystery of the placebo, and the impact of emotions on the immune system.
Chapter Four, Conventional and Complimentary Therapies , discusses the
importance of making well-informed treatment decisions, and provides an
overview of the complimentary therapies that I used including diet, supplements,
Chinese medicine, herbs, Ukrain, and Iscador. Chapter Five, Nutrition
and Diet discusses the value of a holistic approach to healing, detoxification,
a healing diet, and juicing. Chapter Six, Living With Cancer focuses on
cancer as a turning point in one's life, the importance of healing
relationships, meditation, pain control, journal writing, and laughter
and music. Chapter Seven, Healing Your Lifestyle discusses the goals of
achieving total wellness and living in the present. The last chapter ,
Reasons for Hope explains that others, like me, have outlived their mesothelioma
prognosis with good quality of life and that you have every right to be
hopeful that you too can make a remarkable recovery.