18 February 2013

Cancer survivors? Cancer thrivers!!!

This is your personal invitation to be inspired, to be informed, to support cancer survivors generally and the self-help options specifically.

In the centre of Melbourne, on Tuesday, the 5th of March from 6.30 to 8.30pm, three remarkable cancer survivors will join me to talk about how we not only managed to survive against the odds, but to actually thrive in the process. The flier is attached at the end of this post.

Now there is a great notion. Not just a cancer survivor, a cancer thriver! So this week, continuing the theme of what is happening in the world of cancer, let us go “Out on a Limb” and discuss what it is to thrive amidst adversity, and meet some great “thrivers”. But first,

Thought for the Day
            Keep your goals and dreams just beyond your reach 
           And your integrity beyond reproach
                                           Richard Carmona, MD; 17th Surgeon General of the United States

Jess Ainscough, Scott, Stephens, Ruth McGowan. They all challenge the popular notion of what it is to have cancer. Vibrant, active, up-beat, full of life. How do they do it, given they have all faced life-threatening cancers and still in some sense live under that shadow?

One thing is for sure, their attitudes, their way of coping, their way of thriving, did not happen by chance or some stroke of good luck. Each of them in their own way has worked hard, continues to work hard, to be a cancer survivor, a cancer thriver.

Sure there are the common factors; taking nutrition and what they eat very seriously, developing a positive state of mind and working on the power of their minds, and of course meditating heaps; but then there are the individual variations, the personal touches that bring their individuality to the healing equation.

Jess is young and dynamic; on a mission to reach out and help thousands through her Wellness Warrior website, blog and Wellness Warrior Lifestyle Transformation Guide.

Scott is such a “bloke”, with the freshness
and openness of a real Australian man that
warms everyone’s heart and opens them to
his remarkable understandings and insights
into what it takes to heal and to be well.

Then Ruth, with the maturity that comes from
being a mayor amidst the devastation of the
Black Saturday fires. Who has known a brother
thrive through a long and difficult cancer; felt
the pain of his death, felt the powerful urge to
do all she can to survive and thrive through
her own challenges.

As a final bonus, Peter Roberts will be joining us with
his wonderful harp. Peter will play during the light
supper being served from 6.30 to 7.00pm before we
begin the talking, and then he will join me to lead a meditation.

Then there is You Can Conquer Cancer, my old book recently invigorated by a complete re-write and with a life of its own. Happily on this occasion, Dr Francis Macnab, that extraordinary psychologist and Minister of the Uniting Church’s St Michaels on Collins, will re-launch the new edition.

Takes me back to 1984 when Weary Dunlop, that famous doctor from Changi, Patron of the Cancer Council, long-term supporter of my work and someone I was privileged and proud to call a mentor and friend, launched the first edition.

Now the hope is that this new edition of You Can Conquer Cancer can be re-translated into the 13 languages the old one is in and maybe some new ones, and sell another 250,000 copies at least.

Over 120,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer in Australia this year. That is way too many people. We all need to do what we can to help those who are basically well to stay that way, to follow a healthy lifestyle and avoid developing cancer.

Then for those who do develop cancer, we need to help them to understand that they have a crucial role, quite possibly the most important role in their own recovery.

So tell the family, tell your friend and your colleagues. Tell them about the new book, maybe give them a copy. Share the flier attached to this blog with all you can. If you live within easy distance of Melbourne come and show your support for the cancer survivors, the cancer thrivers. Come and learn what you can do for your own health, healing and wellbeing. Entry is a modest $20, $15 concession.

The evening is in the beautiful St Michaels church at 120 Collins St and if you have not been in there before, it is one of Melbourne’s beautiful treasures. And all proceeds are going to the Gawler Foundation (everyone involved is donating their time).

See you there! The flier is attached at the end of this post.

A new year, a new way of living

The completely new You Can Conquer Cancer is released

Recovering from cancer is possible


BOOK: You Can Conquer Cancer

CDs: The Gawler Cancer Program

What to do when someone you love has cancer

ON-LINE: The Wellness Warrior - Jess Ainscough

The Wellness Warrior Lifestyle Transformation Guide.

Wellness Activist and 'Cancer Thriver' Kris Carr writes in the Huffington Post about Her Crazy Sexy Kitchen


Reclaiming Joy –A new book with a related theme.

Recently I was asked to write a foreword for a great book I can highly recommend. This is an anthology of stories from members of a group of thrivers managing cancer and other difficult circumstances. But it is way above what some of these books have been. This one is insightful, quirky, compelling. Well worth a read!

Here is the foreword I wrote for it which I hope inspires you to read it.

Truth is a rare and wonderful commodity. Eloquent truth even rarer, even more wonderful.
The truth is that chronic illness takes everyone affected by it through a wide range of thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Now, there are some people affected by chronic illness who become preoccupied with ‘being positive’. Or is it more accurate to say preoccupied with their own notion of what it is to be positive? Usually this version of being positive means ‘putting on a brave face’, ‘grinning and bearing it’, attempting to be ‘up’ all the time.

Some in fact do make a reasonable pretence of this fa├žade. It can serve as a relief to those around them. ‘She is taking it so well’. ‘He is so brave’. Yet underneath, the nagging doubt. ‘How is she really?’

Well, the cost of being sunny all the time, is to ignore the truth and deal with the consequences.

The truth is that chronic illness involves ups and downs, highs and lows. Acknowledging this, rather than pretending it is not so, is actually easier, more energy efficient, more likely to lead to comfort and ease amidst the swings.

The truth leads to freedom. Freedom to feel as you do, freedom to be genuine, freedom to be authentic. The consequence of living the truth is that this state enables one to recognise difficulties, feel them, and rather than be stuck attempting to deny them, be free to do something useful in response.

So Reclaiming Joy is a wonderful book filled with eloquent truth. The contributors, all of whom share the common thread of chronic illness, speak personally and openly about their range of experiences—the good, the bad and the ugly! But then they also discuss their attempts to find practical solutions. Many of these attempts are successful and will have general and immediate relevance to a wide range of the community.

The book also offers insight, good humour and real positivity. This is not a book of wishful thinking. Wishful thinking is where you hope for the best and do nothing about it.

This is a book of positive thinking—where you hope for the best and do a lot about it!
My wish is that this book is read widely. In a time where so much chronic illness is around us, even affecting us personally, Reclaiming Joy offers insight, hope and real possibilities. Eloquent truth. A real blessing.

Dr Ian Gawler OAM
Author of Peace of Mind & You Can Conquer Cancer
Yarra Junction

Reclaiming Joy: Living well with chronic illness, by Ruth Winton-Brown

The book is most easily ordered by emailing Ruth Winton-Brown on: rwintonbrown@yahoo.com.au


  1. My brother-in-law was diagnosed with inoperable terminal lung cancer 20 years ago. My sister took him down to the Gawler Institute for the live-in education program on how to deal with his disease. The result was that he has now been in remission since then and is still enjoying a remarkably healthy quality of life. It seems that miracles are mostly in the mind, but sometimes, people need to be educated on how to unlock those healing powers.

    1. Dear Shirley
      great story!! I hear so many accounts of remarkable recoveries it is most inspiring. Do wish your brother - in -law well; it is amazing what people can do. More power to him!

  2. Dear Dr. Gawler,
    My elder brother has been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, Stage 4 since it has metastasize to the liver. He's been on chemo since Oct 2016. He has no appetite to eat anything at all and that left him just skins and bones. He can't eat much anyway because he'll get stomach pain. Doctors said he may not be cured and that alone has left a very big impact on him and my whole family.
    It'll be too much if I were to ask you to recommend something that will cure his disease. At least, could you recommend something that I could turn into juice that will give him the energy?

    1. The best place to start would be my book You Can Conquer cancer. That does have a list of juices that may well be helpful, but then it covers everything else you and your brother could do to help make the best of what he is dealing with. It may also be useful to ring the Gawler cancer foundation and speak directly with one of their people - 03 5967 1730 All the best, ian