Late last year I was asked to review a new book, In Your Hands: New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions. I’ve been busy, so I set the lengthy paperback aside. This weekend I discovered it underneath some files. I don’t agree with the author’s premise, but the book is fascinating.
Author Larry Berkelhammer, PhD, suffers from a medley of chronic ailments, anchored by classically hard to diagnose autoimmune diseases. He describes how he uses mindfulness-based techniques to help overcome his symptoms.
I attended the University of Wisconsin back in the wild and crazy 70’s. I started my academic journey as a philosophy major; I loved it until I discovered that I needed to take courses in Latin and ancient Greek in order to graduate. Scratch that! I graduated with a major in history and a minor in economics.
But I found the application of logic to try and prove the unprovable to be fascinating. And that’s the appeal of Dr. Berkelhammer’s book. After skillfully and systematically describing a wide variety of mind-over-matter type techniques, the author shares how each has helped him–and others–live better in the face of chronic health challenges.
Earlier I wrote that, “I don’t agree with the author’s premise.” Learning to manage chronic fibromyalgia or chronic bowel syndrome is one thing; dumping a cancer patient’s tried-and-true chemotherapy for mindfulness is another. That may be a bit harsh. Dr. Berkelhammer stops short of recommending cancer patients flush their cancer meds down the toilet–but I can tell he wishes he could.
Can mind-over-matter techniques control or cure cancer? I’m not convinced. For every study showing how the power of our minds can make a positive difference in outcomes cited by Dr. Berkelhammer, the American Cancer Society and others counter with studies showing no statistical difference; a positive mental attitude does not affect overall survival. All chronic diseases are not created equal. But there is no question that mindfulness can help improve our quality of life.
In this case, “our” includes caregivers; Dr. Berkelhammer includes a helpful chapter for them, too.
I love this book! It covers a wide range of mindfulness-based practices in a systematic, easy to understand style. In Your Own Hands is not only a must read for cancer patients, the book serves as an important “how to” and reference guide.
In Your Own Hands isn’t available yet in My Cancer Store, so you know I’m not endorsing it to sell books. I should have copies available soon. In the meantime, you can order the book through Amazon.com.
This topic is so important, it’s the cornerstone of the Friday evening presentations at Pat’s Myeloma Beach Party on Fernandina Beach in March. I will have Dr. Berkelhammer’s books available at the event.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat