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Book Review: ‘Hope Never Dies: How 20 Late-Stage and Terminal Cancer Patients Beat the Odds,’ By Rick Shapiro

Cancer patients have new cause for hope in an inspiring new book by Rick Shapiro, a leading cancer treatment consultant. Aptly titled Hope Never Dies: How 20 Late-Stage and Terminal Cancer Patients Beat the Odds, the book features interviews with 20 cancer survivors and five trail-blazing cancer specialists. It’s evidence that personalized, integrative and alternative cancer therapies saving lives.

The conventional standard of care for treating cancer hasn’t changed for decades. But individual patients’ cancers are anything but standard. As the book asserts, there’s no reason to associate a cancer diagnosis with a death sentence, let alone an agonizing road of chemotherapy, radiation and accompanying side effects. Instead, there’s a whole array of powerful alternative treatments that are well worth investigating. It depends on the individual.

In certain circumstances, such treatments can be implemented as part of a personalized cancer strategy, as they are often meant to work synergistically with the standard surgery-chemotherapy-radiation protocol. As the book’s interviews reveal, they can bring about far better results as well as a higher quality of living.

The patients profiled in Hope Never Dies show both resolve and resourcefulness: they pushed for answers and didn’t give up. Some chose to first have their biochemistry tested, to find out what nutritional interventions and supplements would support their immune systems, help make their bodies inhospitable to cancer, and improve their recovery from standard treatment regimens.

Another option is the use of “chronomodulated” chemotherapy treatment: chemo drugs administered at the time of day when they’re most effective and least toxic to the body. Other patients do pre-testing, using their own tissue samples to find out which chemo drugs will be most successful.

As Shapiro points out, these and other potentially effective options are almost never mentioned in oncologist appointments. Most physicians resist and even discredit anything not approved by the FDA, and it’s also rare that an alternative treatment is covered by insurance. Shapiro traces the medical industry’s reluctance to its insidious profit structure, and the influence of Big Pharma. But that doesn’t mean anyone should have to give up.

While so-called “proven” therapies have made only minimal progress in prolonging survival rates, Hope Never Dies makes a compelling case for the effectiveness of a more customized and integrative approach. The book also points to the importance of never giving up hope. The conclusion of every patient profile in the book includes a reflection of what they think made the difference. Survival, it seems, is about insisting on being treated as an individual, despite any statistics.

Dr. Keith Block, cofounder of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment and one of the practitioners interviewed, echoed this approach. “I’m aware that a patient is sometimes advised by a physician to avoid false hope,” he said. “But this misses the point altogether. First of all, hope can never be false. Hope is not a promise; rather, it’s a prayer! It’s a prayer that can be followed with genuine action and integrative treatment in order to improve one’s odds and potentially — hopefully —one’s outcome!”

As Shapiro writes, patients should not have to feel rushed into any treatment. When facing a cancer diagnosis, they need to be given the time to learn about mainstream and alternative treatments, and allowed to advocate for what makes the most sense — for them.

Hope Never Dies brings to light the limitations of established cancer care in our country. But it also empowers anyone with a cancer diagnosis to insist on more alternatives. There are innovative ways to not only beat the odds, but change them — by selectively using the best integrative as well as conventional tools.

Learn more at the book’s website.

About Patricia Gale

Patricia Gale has written and ghostwritten hundreds of blogs and articles that have appeared on sites such as Psychology Today, Forbes, and Huffington Post, and in countless national newspapers and magazines. Her “beat” is health, business, career, self-help, parenting, and relationships.

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