Monday, July 27, 2009

You can't make sensible decisions...if you have no sense.

Apropos of last week's topic, comes, today, more seductive but ultimately meaningless b.s. from Cancer Treatment Centers of America, courtesy of its latest ad campaign:

"You can't fight cancer...if you don't have hope."

Who sez? Or maybe I should ask, Why not?

Let's take two individuals. Lou is an incorrigible pessimist; always expects the worst. But his friends persuade him that he has to go for chemo and radiation, even though he fully expects to die. On the other hand we have
Larry. Larry is the very definition of optimism. He's convinced that he's "going to beat this cancer thing." He's so convinced that he thinks he's going to do it through meditation, herbal potions, and the sheer will to live.

Who do you think has better odds of reaching five-year survival? Mr. Hope? Or our friend Lou, who, the minute he heard The C Word, figured he was a goner? Come on now, don't give me the sentimental answer; assume you had to bet your 401K on it, also assuming you still have a 401K, and it's still worth more than $1.98.

But we needn't even make our hypothetical as extreme as all that. Suppose both Lou and Larry undergo the exact same treatment regimen. Are we really prepared to say that Larry's optimism will necessarily trump Lou's negativity? Aren't there myriad other variables that have something to say about it? (E.g. genetics/family history, the doctors' skills, the precise etiology of the cancer itself, etc.) And what about the sheer laws of chance? Seriously, if optimism and pessimism were so decisive in health care and longevity, then all other things being equal, wouldn't pessimists die at around 30 while all optimists live to be 109? In fact, why would optimists ever die? (On the other hand, maybe they don't. As Bob Proctor told us in The Secret, "Disease cannot live in a body that's in a healthy emotional state." I would therefore assume that the irrepressibly chipper Proctor, whom I wrote about in a recent Wall Street Journal column, looks forward to immortality. We shall see.)

We all understand why such slogans gain cultural traction. There are benign reasons (having to do with the very human need to believe) and there are less benign reasons (having to do with the entrepreneurial desire to turn a profit by pandering to that very human need. In truth, I think what Cancer Treatment Centers of America is really saying is, "If you don't have hope, you won't continue spending endless sums of money in a vain attempt to postpone the inevitable, and places like Cancer Treatment Centers of America would suffer an alarming attrition in business volume"). And there's a ton of sentiment/sentimentality attached to these topics, such that there's also a natural tendency to recoil when people puncture these balloons of yours truly learned back in November 2007 when I blogged cynically about Lynn Redgrave's "I refuse to die" spots. But why do we have to let that sentimentality induce us to go around spouting all these silly motivational catch-phrases that we know in our hearts* aren't true? Why tell kids things like "You can achieve anything if you set your mind to it!", which is absolute, empirically provable hogwash? Why isn't it good enough to say something like, "Look, just go out there and try your hardest, and maybe you'll be rewarded"? Or, in the case at hand: "Try to keep your spirits up as you fight this thing"?

Why do we have to imply that the hope is a therapy, a game plan, in its own right?

Oh, incidentally: Some years back CTCA came under FTC scrutiny for, in effect, promising more hope than it could legitimately deliver through its "groundbreaking" methods. Maybe that tells you something right there.


P.S. I guess this guy lost his hope.

* or maybe our minds is more like it.


Tyro said...

Good questions, seems to cry out for some real data.

I know some groups have tried to answer the question of whether our outlook affects our medical outcome. One famous study asked whether people could stay alive (through force of will) until a special birthday or anniversary since there are plenty of anecdotes to this effect. Turns out that no, there is no correlation between special events and mortality. I think there have been studies which compared the outcome of treatment with the patient's optimism or pessimism and found no correlation but I can't dig out the specifics so who knows how well that study was performed.

Rational Thinking said...

Well I'd agree that hope as a treatment strategy leaves a lot to be desired. On the other hand, if people want to be optimistic, then that's fine, along with their treatment plan. I'd say that a hopeful attitude is more about your personality than anything else. I wonder if the ACA is making the assumption that if people aren't optimistic, that means they won't seek treatment? If you decide you don't want treatment other than palliative care, say, does that mean that you're less of a person because you're choosing not to "fight" the disease? Not because you believe that magical thinking will 'cure' you, but because you're choosing to make the most of the time you have left.

I guess I'd adopt a "prepare for the worst and hope for the best" attitude, but each to their own.

Noadi said...

Here's the flaw I think in your argument:

You assume the pessimist is going to get proper treatment and be compliant with it.

I have a feeling that someone's outlook related to their disease is likely to have a big impact on treatment. Hope itself isn't a treatment plan, but lack of hope may lead to a poor treatment plan. Someone pessimistic who assumes they are going to die might be more likely to not take medication correctly or opt out of aggressive treatment.

It would be an interesting area of research to see the effect of attitude on medical decision making. If there is any out there I'd love to read it because I've yet to come across much on the subject.

Steve Salerno said...

RT and Tyro, but see, your remarks fall perfectly in line with what I'm saying. I'm not contending that hope and PMA have no role to play--whether it's in fighting cancer, winning ballgames, whatever. If we want to do studies to determine what role hope might play, or is capable of playing, at least for certain individuals at certain times, fine. What I'm attacking is the mentality that goes--well--exactly as the ad puts it: You can't fight cancer without hope. In other words, you need hope to succeed in that endeavor--an attitude that sets hope itself up as the sine qua non of success. What that attitude is literally saying is that if you don't have hope, in every case you will fail. That's a variant of the argument that implies that winners (and other successful people)--as Tommy Lasorda likes to say--are the ones who "wanted it more." Which, again, also says that losers wanted it less. That is plainly nonsense, and we don't need studies to know that; the evidence is ubiquitous.

More to the point, it's parasitic nonsense: telling people what they want to hear for the purpose of extracting money from them. Like, say, Farrah's German doctors toward the end there.

Steve Salerno said...

Noadi: I don't assume any such thing. I'm simply talking about the stipulated connection between attitude and outcome. Period. I don't think it exists. Certainly it doesn't exist as an absolute--which is the way the ad (and so much other material in self-help) phrases it.

Cosmic Connie said...

Good points as usual. My comment may be more relevant to other posts you've written regarding our attitudes towards cancer patients and the way we seem to believe they "should" act and think. I was reminded of this subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) tyranny once again when considering the story of the unfortunate Farrah Fawcett. It seemed that she just couldn't do cancer right.

On the one hand, we have an angry blogger (and former frequent participant on SHAMblog), who castigated her for exploring "alternative" treatments towards the end of her life. According to this blogger, Farrah left a shameful legacy by squandering what was left of her life and dignity on quack medicine, almost certainly guaranteeing that she would die sooner rather than later. (This blogger also expressed a wish that everyone involved in *anything* New Agey would just "die, die, die.")

On the other hand, we have Joe Vitale's life partner, Nerissa Oden, who recently started a blog to discuss food sensitivities, and has a bone to pick with the medical establishment. On her May 25 blog post she wrote:

"Watching Farrah’s Story on cable caused me distress. I watched her drink alcohol on every holiday and getaway. In her program I learned that she has tumors in her liver too – did anyone advise her to NOT add stress to her liver by drinking alcohol? I watched her bake pies while weakened and wobbly — did anyone tell her that cancer thrives on sugar? Doesn’t alcohol turn into sugar?

"I could not watch the entire program but instead flipped back and forth between another program. Watching her poison herself with chemo instead of nuturing [sic] herself with food was frankly unbearable to me."

Geez, everyone's a critic. Those poor cancer patients just can't seem to get it right.

[Verification word: quish.]

Steve Salerno said...

Connie, I've said this before, or similar remarks, but what I really love about your comments is the sense of perspective--the ability to pull back from the specific "action," tie my post up with something bigger, and give us a sense of what it all means. Glad you returned.

RevRon's Rants said...

"Geez, everyone's a critic."

Give the lady a cigar (not that she'd smoke it, mind you)! Condemning someone for not holding to a positive mental attitude is about as logical as telling them they're stupid for trying to maintain that attitude.

While I don't believe it makes sense to consider optimism as a sole cure for anything (save pathological pessimism, perhaps), I do believe that a positive outlook can be beneficial when used in concert with actions that directly address the problem, even if only to improve how one feels as they face challenges - physical or otherwise.

I remember reading of a study where sick patients who prayed *in addition to getting medical treatment* recovered more quickly and completely than those who didn't pray. I don't personally believe that such prayers result in divine intervention, and think it really makes little difference to what one ascribes the source of their recovery: divine intervention, an increase in the body's ability to heal itself, or just a sense of well-being borne of belief in one's actions.

Bottom line is that it's ludicrous to judge someone else's mindset, especially since there's no way anyone but the individual can possess the necessary information to render such a judgment valid. Common sense, along with a sense of balance and perspective, would be a useful tool in choosing any course of action.

Anonymous said...


So you are saying diseases don't care what your feelings are?

That reminds me of my shop teacher. Mr. O, back in high school. Mr. O. introduced us to the radial arm saw by saying "This powerful motor spins this sharp blade in order to cut things. And they don't care if they are cutting wood, tile, sheetrock, or your fingers; they are going to keep cutting as long as they have power.

Diseases don't care if you are happy or grumpy, rich or poor. They will go about their business until they are stopped. And positive thoughts are not effective at stopping diseases.

Steve Salerno said...

I think Ron's feelings in this case very much mirror my own. If by a "positive attitude" we mean the will and discipline to take the actions that will lead to constructive change, then I do see the value of hope and a PMA. (Who wouldn't, in that context?) But those actions are often long, complex and arduous, and sometimes open-ended as well--and today there are too many people out there who want the "easy button," as I (and many others) have noted. (This is part of the self-esteem/entitlement subculture.) People in this category see a PMA as a shortcut to success, sans the accompanying "action" component, and venal/profit-minded self-help gurus pander to that mode of thinking, e.g. the "law of attraction." And as we see here, some health-care companies do, too.

And--to throw yet another monkey wrench into this whole oversold notion of "7 Keys to Success"--we should remember that even if we take the actions motivated by a PMA, there are still no guarantees that (a) we'll get what we want, or (b) we'll be happy even if we do get it. One should never lose sight of that old line about best-laid plans, or the law of unintended consequences, either. That is the plain truth.

Ergo, the title of an honest "motivational" book would be something like, No Matter How Hard You Try, You Still Might Not Get What You Want--and Even if You Do Get It, You Might End Up Unhappy Anyway. Try to get a book deal for that one!

Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks for the kind comments, Steve, and yes, it's good to be back. What really bugs me about the whole PMA-cures-or-prevents-disease mindset is the opposite side of the coin, which is the belief that illness is a result of our own mental, emotional, or spiritual shortcomings. Although most of the more "enlightened" believers insist that this is not a matter of blaming the victim ("There's no blame or guilt; it's just the way things work," they'll assure you), it still comes down to a blame-the-victim mentality. Just listen to Kevin Trudeau talking about cancer, for example, on his radio show. Cancer is caused by unresolved anger or guilt or some such thing. (As it happens, Kevin has just the supplements and programs to fix things.)

By the way, True-dough has recently gotten even more deeply into the woo stuff...

(If you don't want to read about horse farts and such, and want to get straight to the Trudeau-Vitale interview, just follow the link that's in the opening quotation.)

Tyro said...


I remember reading of a study where sick patients who prayed *in addition to getting medical treatment* recovered more quickly and completely than those who didn't pray.

The study you're probably thinking of showed the opposite, that those who received intercessory prayer did no better than those who didn't. Interestingly, those people who were told that they were being prayed for actually did worse!

It's tempting to think that a positive attitude helps but the data is mixed. It certainly doesn't support the notion that a positive attitude will always help.

Steve Salerno said...

The problem with these studies in the overall is that I don't think they're controllable. How do you separate out all the variables that could be in play in the background? For example, let's suppose a study does appear to show that patients who pray regularly do better than patients who don't. (Or let's suppose the opposite; it doesn't really matter for the purposes of this illustration.) How do we know what other factors we're not controlling for that may be associated with "the praying lifestyle," if you will? To make this point clearer, let's assume there's a study that shows that teenage girls who pray for good health and divine guidance every night are less likely to get STDs or have unintended pregnancies. Does that mean that the prayer itself is protecting them from those misfortunes? Of course not. The greater likelihood is that the kinds of girls who pray regularly for divine guidance are rather less inclined to be having casual sex in the first place.

Tyro said...


The study I was referring to was for intercessory prayer, where a secondary group prayed for the patients so apart from being told of the prayers and any "genuine" prayer effects, the groups are well isolated. Together with a large sample size and randomized groups, this neatly cuts out these complicating lifestyle issues for the patient group.

But talking about the different ways of praying reminds me of a group that tried to give precise instructions on the most effective ways to pray. Scroll down a bit and they even give the percentage breakdown of how prayer "frequencies" get channelled. I want to ask how they know but I doubt I'd like the answer :) (Off topic but still funny.)

Steve Salerno said...

Tyro: But does it, though? ("cut out these complicating lifestyle issues"?) Let's remember that when we speak of prayer as therapy, we have departed the realm of science and ventured off into the realm of the spiritual/implausible, where things like logic and repeatability and predictability-of-outcome no longer matter. So let's suppose that, if I pray for you, my prayers do cause something to happen--but that "something" is really "curing" you through secondary effects. In other words, suppose that, when you pray for someone to recover from heart disease, what actually happens it that the person suddenly develops a compulsion to avoid fatty foods. (Maybe that's how "prayer" works. After all, again, you can't apply the laws of science and syllogistic reasoning to prayer.) But that same prayer causes a person--a few years later--to develop a desire to begin smoking. So the same prayer that "cures" a person of heart disease later kills him from cancer.

I mean--where is it written that prayers can't have side effects or so-called paradoxical effects? And if this sounds like silliness and sophistry, remember, again: The very idea of prayer takes us out of the realm of the sensible. Logic no longer matters, and one cannot draw conclusions that are rooted in science or scientific thinking.

Steve Salerno said...

P.S. to my comment above: Though the reasoning isn't exactly parallel, my gripe about studies and the conclusions we can realistically draw from them also applies to the new study that gets a headline on AOL today: Apparently divorce is at a 40-year-low--but adultery, at least in certain forms, is on the rise. So if people are staying married--yet cheating more--is it really valid to infer from this study that marriages have become "stronger"? If, in some strange postmodern sense, infidelity has become a mechanism by which people summon the will to stay married...what do we conclude from that?

Tyro said...

I don't see why religion and prayer is somehow excluded from scientific investigation. After all, if there is a real positive effect from intercessory prayer, why couldn't we study it? Imagine if the study showed that the group who had people pray for them showed double the expected recovery and if Catholics prayed, they had quadruple. Imagine further if people all over the world could repeat this experiment and it came out the same each time. Would anyone say that prayer wasn't "rooted in science or scientific thinking"? I doubt it. We certainly wouldn't say that repeatability no longer matter, we'd probably be rushing out to convert to Catholicism. I think the reason people tend to say that prayer and religion can't be studied is because the studies are negative, not because there's something special about prayer. Whenever the results seem positive all of this coy hidden-from-science thing is dropped like a hot brick.

If we showed that having people pray for you lead to a demonstrable improvement then of course the next steps would be to look at why they improved. This would be to answer the mechanism of how this hypothetical prayer worked. Perhaps it does make people less interested in fatty foods, who knows. Would it make intercessory prayer any less real?

Again, I'll repeat that intercessory prayer of the study has a second, distant, unrelated group praying for someone and not the patient praying herself. They've cut out the questions of whether the patient led a better life, or if prayer aided relaxation or through some other secondary effect. I don't see any reason why we can't ask whether your own praying has any effect on your health but it does get more difficult but not impossible. Researchers have decades of experience studying long-term effects of smoking, exercise and other behaviours which can be deeply intertwined with wealth, location and other lifestyle features. It requires a large study especially if the effect is weak but these have been done before.

So if people are staying married--yet cheating more--is it really valid to infer from this study that marriages have become "stronger"?

I gave up wondering what the media meant by "strengthening" or "defending" marriage once the demagogues started saying that letting gays marry would somehow undermine their own marriages. "Defending" marriage took on strange, sinister undertones.

Is it better for a woman to stay in an abusive relationship or to divorce? Is it better to remain in a loveless but amicable relationship "for the sake of the children" or to split up and try to find happiness? How do we score swingers who enjoy open extra-marital affairs and say it has saved their marriage? I've heard that the divorce rate has been increasing. Does this mean women are leaving bad marriages or that people are leaving at the first hint of problems?

Steve Salerno said...

Tyro, I hear what you're saying, and yes, I agree totally that if we could get some valid reading on the efficacy of prayer, it would be worthwhile knowing.... But... Think about that. A scientific study of prayer? Isn't that a little bit like trying to determine whether the Easter Bunny can catch a cold? Seriously, I don't mean to be glib, or dismissive of the beliefs of those who pray--and "those who pray" includes people like my wife, who is passionate about it. I'm just saying, once we walk through that door and admit to the existence of things that--by definition--are "miraculous" in nature...then aren't all bets off? If you pray to St. Jude (as my wife does, which is understandable, since she's married to me), then why can't I pray to the fireflies that frolic in my backyard each night? And if you think that praying to St. Jude cured your cancer, why can't I think that the fireflies are emitting waves of energy that surround me with an invisible shield that prevents pitchers in my baseball league from hitting me with their pitches? (After all, I haven't been hit yet.) Or maybe that shield is only there for Sunday games, not Saturday games.

You see what I mean?

Tyro said...

I'm just saying, once we walk through that door and admit to the existence of things that--by definition--are "miraculous" in nature...then aren't all bets off?

If praying to St Jude would double your chances of recovery, even if you weren't the one praying, I think that a scientific study would be the best way to reveal this and to study it. We may yet not understand why or how it happens but we could demonstrate that it does. Even if we assume that St Jude is a little unpredictable, we can still study the phenomenon just like we study human behaviour. Humans are somewhat unpredictable but we're consistent enough. Skinner and Milgram may not be able to determine the precise outcome of any one experiment but large studies were clear. The same could easily be the case for St Jude.

I think the problem is that currently praying to the garden fairies and to St Jude are equally (in)effective. When confronted with the evidence that praying is indistinguishable from not praying, many chose to attack science as a whole. They "know" prayer works so therefore science must be broken. This may be psychologically comforting but I don't think it's valid.

When huge numbers of people claim certainty when the objective data doesn't support them, I think the problem may be with our cognitive shortcuts and not with the data or the scientific methodology. We all believe weird things, but belief don't make it so.

Steve Salerno said...

Tyro, I'll make one more comment from a slightly different perspective, then I'll give you the last word on this, if you want it.

If it were proven, one day, that God did indeed create the world--does anything else in science have meaning from that moment forward? I think not. Because if God made man (and the world and everything in it), then nothing can be perceived as predictable and orderly anymore. A simple divine act, at any moment, can change anything: the sky can go from blue to brown, dogs can grow horns, trees can have their roots in the air and grow downward instead of upward. That is my point. The introduction of the miraculous into a scientific discussion necessarily invalidates science itself. To my way of thinking. Now I do see one possible exception to this: If you're going to argue that prayer somehow mobilizes certain molecules for action and dispatches them to the cause of the sufferer (in some poorly understood QP way, perhaps), then maybe I could see a case for prayer-as-molecular-catalyst. But I don't think that's the sense that most folks have in mind when they talk about the "power of prayer."

Anonymous said...

St Jude, I seem to remember, is the patron saint of lost causes. For me that is where hope comes in. I lost any faith in god I might have had by the age of 12. When my sister was dying some 30 years later, I the pathological pessimist, found myself praying to a god I didn't believe in for a miracle I also couldn't see happening.
When all logical actions and medical resources have been tried and found wanting, there is nothing else left but hopeless hope.
When I hear these exhortations on hope and PMA I know I am listening to someone who has nothing else of any use at all to offer. (And who would do us all a service by keeping schtumm.)

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 1:11: But you know what the Hope crowd would say? That your prayers were insincere, and that's why they weren't answered; you didn't pray with genuine hope. So the failure of your "faux" prayers was a self-fulfilling prophecy. As they see it.

Tyro said...


If it were proven, one day, that God did indeed create the world--does anything else in science have meaning from that moment forward? I think not. Because if God made man (and the world and everything in it), then nothing can be perceived as predictable and orderly anymore.

I think I understand what you are saying, I just don't understand why.

If I recall correctly, you believe that God exists and, I assume, that God created the world yet the world is predictable. Doesn't this contradict your argument that a god is incompatible with science? Even if I misunderstand your beliefs, millions of people do believe a God created the world yet also believe that the world is consistent and predictable. Even if it's possible for the sky to change to purple overnight, the fact that it hasn't happened should tell us that, if there is a God which acts in our world, it doesn't act in such a disruptive fashion.

I would be interested in your thoughts on my analogy to humans. We know humans can behave in very strange ways. We know that it is possible for your a bus driver to punch you in the nose instead of taking your fare yet our experience tells us that this is very unlikely and we don't protect our noses when getting on the bus. The capability of unpredictable behaviour doesn't mean that science is useless, it doesn't even mean that we can't study human behaviour, it just means predictions become probabilistic. Why wouldn't this be the case with a god?

Steve Salerno said...

I believe fervently that God exists and yet I also recognize that I am almost surely wrong. That may not make sense to you, but I've made my peace with it. I recognize my own beliefs as irrational.

Your example of the bus driver doesn't hold water to me, because if we're talking about bus drivers (and other humans), we're talking in the realm of anthropology and science and what we've empirically learned (and assume to be true) about life. People certainly can punch or stab someone for no apparent reason--but they generally don't. They generally behave according to a sense of order and rationality that we have come to expect of life, because we look at life as something that is (basically) predictable and explainable. But once you introduce religion into that equation, where is the predictability? My point is that perhaps penicillin works simply because God makes it work. And if He decides tomorrow that he doesn't like the idea of antibiotics, they will simply stop working. If you subscribe fully to a religious view of life, you have to admit the possibility of such bizarre events. That's not the same as expecting the bus driver (who, again, is human, and presumably operates according to laws that exist in biology, which is a science) not to punch you. There are no laws governing the behavior of a God. He does what he wants to do, whenever He wants to do it. He can make the next bite of pizza taste like potato soup, and the very next bite taste like pizza again. That's what Gods do.

Btw, I have weighed in again here because you asked me direct questions. I was fully willing to give you the last word, as advertised. ;)

Tyro said...

They generally behave according to a sense of order and rationality that we have come to expect of life, because we look at life as something that is (basically) predictable and explainable. But once you introduce religion into that equation, where is the predictability?

Our history of dealing with people tells us that they're basically predictable though we know they can be violent and unpredictable. How is this different than God? Doesn't the same history tell us that God is basically predictable and doesn't turn our skies purple or make pizza taste like soup?

And if miracles did start occurring with some regularity, I don't see why we couldn't study it in the same way we study the behaviour of humans, by looking for patterns.

Btw, I have weighed in again here because you asked me direct questions. I was fully willing to give you the last word, as advertised. ;)

And I appreciate it. I'm certainly not trying to shut anyone up or score points, and I am thankful for the insight & conversation you share so freely.

RevRon's Rants said...

Perhaps we would be better served by defining "miraculous" according to its true nature, rather than based upon our obsession with having all the answers.

If a phenomenon occurs which is beyond our ability to quantify, understand, or satisfactorily explain, many adhere to the notion that the phenomenon had to be the act of a benevolent divine entity. After all, if it is beyond *my* comprehension, it certainly must be an act of God, right? IMO, such an attitude is likely an expression of fear and arrogance. Better to simply acknowledge that I haven't figured it out yet.

IMO, the one true "miracle" performed by that divine Being is the act of creation itself, the "divine idea" that we characterize as the Big Bang. In my work-in-progress book, I describe it as Being be-ing. After that one act (of which I can scarcely begin to grasp the magnitude), everything else is an example of things simply falling into place according to the natural laws we so obsessively study. If something appears to be "miraculous," it simply occurred as the result of a law we've yet to observe and/or factors we've so far overlooked.

While our understanding of natural processes grows every day, I think that an understanding of all those processes is ultimately elusive on a human scale. It's like the old paradox of standing a few feet away from a wall and continually taking steps exactly halfway to that wall. Progress is made, but you never quite reach the wall.

"Miraculous," like "metaphysical," is less a description of specific phenomena than of our own intellectual limitations.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron: Thanks for weighing in. Lyrical and pointed as ever. Please don't mistake my lack of a more trenchant, comment-specific response for a lack of interest. It's just that I feel I've said my piece on this topic. So as noted, I'll give the last word to "dissenters" and those with fresh ways of looking at it.

Matt Dick said...

My father has brain cancer that will kill him shortly.

After his diagnosis he told me, "No one fights cancer. Cancer kills you or it doesn't, and sometimes you can delay the inevitable."

Steve Salerno said...

Matt: Now how's that that for a title in these inspiration-tinged times: Cancer--It Kills You or It Doesn't. And Sometimes You Can Delay the Inevitable." By Matt Dick. Let me know when you get a book deal.

But I hear ya. My Dad died of cancer at 60. Looked ridiculous in the coffin, still tan from his last Florida trip and with a full head of raven-black hair.