Review of: The Wellness Community Guide to Fighting for Recovery from Cancer

Maggie Hampshire, RN, BSN, OCN
Last Modified: June 19, 1997

Author: Harold H. Benjamin, Ph.D.
Revised and expanded edition of "From Victim to Victor"

Foreword by Susan Love, M.D.,
Director, UCLA Breast Center

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 200 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016
Copyright: 1987, 1995
Price: US $13.95

Harold Benjamin, a former Beverly Hills attorney and businessman, started the Wellness Community in 1982 after his wife Harriet was treated for bilateral breast cancer. During the time of her illness and treatment the Benjamins used several different methods employing "the mind/body connection" to help her to recovery. They decided to open the Wellness Community to teach the same techniques to other interested cancer patients. The Wellness Community is a center for cancer patients who are interested in focusing on wellness rather than disease. Patients gather there to learn the methods that will empower them with the ability to fight for recovery.

The book is written in a "how-to" format. It focuses, however, not on how to live with cancer but rather how to fight and recover from the disease. The idea most central to the book is the "patient active" concept, a series of "psychological and emotional guidelines cancer patients can use which may enhance the possibility of recovery." The author often refers to the patient active concept as a powerful combination of "the will of the patient and the skill of the physician."

The book is written in a very practical and honest format. Several important points should be kept in mind when reading the book, including the following: First and foremost, the methods described in the book are meant to serve as a complement to and not a substitute for the patient's medical treatment. Secondly, there is virtually no way to use the methods incorrectly. Since the only byproduct of the behavior and attitude changes suggested in the book is a better quality of life, there is no need for concern that the using the techniques can cause any harm or interefere in any way with a patient's recovery. Finally, the techniques suggested in the book are scientifically grounded in the practice of psychoneuromotorimmunology or the mind/body connection.

A positive aspect of the book is that it does not have to be read in sequential order. Since only the mental aspects of cancer are focused on, the reader can concentrate on those chapters that are most pertinent to their needs.

Throughout the book readers are introduced to a number of ex-cancer patients. Their insights and perspective lend reality to the subject matter, which at times can seem somewhat intangible. By relating the theoretical content to several real life situations and actual positive outcomes, reader understanding is enhanced.

Overall this book promotes an honest and straightforward method for assisting cancer patients with the mental strain often associated with a cancer diagnosis. Through real life individual stories with positive outcomes, the author demonstrates how it is possible to maximize the effect of the immune system using the creative forces of exercise, diet, visualization, stress management, and enhancing personal relationships in order to combat and defeat cancer. With a disease that often leaves patients feeling helpless and victimized, the methods proposed in this book empower patients so that they can actively participate in their own recovery.

It is never too late to start fighting.


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