28 October 2013

Ian Gawler Blog: Portrait of the survivor

What image do you have of a long-term cancer survivor? What have their stories to offer? What can we learn from them about life and about survival?

This week we find out, as well as having the extraordinary opportunity to view amazing portraits taken by world-class photographer Robbie Merritt of long-term survivors. These portraits will form a truly remarkable exhibition You Are Beautiful coming soon in Perth, and to celebrate I have asked the CEO of Cancer Support WA (CSWA), Mandy BeckerKnox to share an insight that came courtesy of one of these survivors.

Each portrait is linked to that persons story - very inspiring and informative - and a fundraising initiative for CSWA, so if you want to support a great organisation, link here to donate.

Also, a small request. I have been asked to help set up a public Facebook page to promote the workshops I will present in Auckland in a few weeks. Apparently it helps to be “Liked”!!! So please go to the new page, (I will now be adding interesting and topical new info there too from time to time) and “Like” me! Link here.

All the New Zealand events for the tour Ruth and I head off for in a couple of weeks are featured on this new Facebook page, so if you do know anyone interested, please share the link with them.

But first

Thought for the Day
People are like stained-glass windows.
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,
But when the darkness sets in,
Their true beauty is revealed
Only if there is a light from within
               Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Geoff Barbour
Long term survivor of advanced lymphatic cancer
First diagnosed 1997, no medical treatment

How asking yourself a simple question could save your life by Mandy BeckerKnox

A wise friend told me about a very simple method she used for healing herself of secondary melanoma 25 years ago. She was in a difficult predicament, given a few months to live with no medical treatments available to her. Not ready or willing to die, she realised her life was in her own hands.

Willing to do whatever it took to be well again, she asked herself a profound question before eating or drinking anything. She asked the same question of her thought processes, of her relationships, before undergoing any treatment, and in fact before she did anything.

 The question was simply “is this life-giving, or life taking?’ If the answer was life-giving, then she would wholeheartedly embrace that choice. If the answer was life taking, she found the strength and willpower not to follow through on that choice.

Father and daughter team, Ross and Lisa Taylor.

Ross diagnosed with secondary melanoma over 20 years ago.
Lisa also had her partner diagnosed and die of a brain tumour - an extra-ordinary caring role.

There were only two possible answers to this question … there were no maybes, buts, this times or I don’t knows – it was either yes this is life giving, or no this is life taking.

In addition to following through on her life-giving choices, she was willing to explore as many healing modalities as possible, to make sweeping lifestyle changes, to meditate, to develop intuition and to give it a voice.

Mike Sowerby - whom I first met when he was a 3rd year vet student in 1979, just diagnosed with kidney cancer. 

Mike became the first new therapist I worked with in the early '80s, and now he works with the CSWA.

Mike had no medical treatment.

It was her soul’s journey to survive cancer and to become a healer and facilitator herself, inspiring and giving hope to many other people facing the same devastating prognosis.

In case you are wondering who this wise friend is,
it is the wonderful Cathy Brown,
Cancer Support WA’s wellness facilitator.

                    Cathy Brown was diagnosed with metastatic 
                    melanoma 20 years ago. Cathy was one of 
                    our co- facilitators on our recent 
                    Meditation in the Desert retreat.

Cathy and the team of wellness and healing professionals at CSWA understand what it takes to be well and have developed a program and many resources to support people on their healing journey. That team is there to guide you through the program and to help you find the inner resources to be well and to heal.

We wish you all the best and hope to see you soon!

Mandy BeckerKnox
Chief Executive Officer, CSWA

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL – the exhibition, is Australia's first 100% glass photographic exhibition celebrating the inner beauty, resilience and strength of West Australians touched by cancer.

Organised by Cancer Support WA in partnership with celebrity photographer Robbie Merritt, Panther Graphics and other sponsors, the purpose of You are Beautiful is to bring awareness to the untold stories of people with cancer, and to raise funds for Cancer Support WA.

​The YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL exhibition features large scale portraits of 100 West Australians who have been touched by cancer. Each portrait reveals the story of each person by drawing out their unique beauty and emotion. Each portrait is accompanied by the personal story of each person featured.

The YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL Photographs are being displayed at Central Park Building, 152-158 St Georges Terrace, Perth from 2nd to 8th November, Central Park  and a smaller selection will be displayed from 18th to 29th November at Brookfield Place, 125 St George's Tce, Perth WA. Entry to the exhibitions is free.

1. Refer to my website where there is more related research and suggestions on how to manage a cancer diagnosis.

2. My book: You Can Conquer Cancer

3. My CDs (also available as downloads)
The Gawler Cancer Program
What to do when someone you love has cancer

Cancer survivors? Cancer thrivers!!!

Cancer survivors come to Today Tonight

Recovery from cancer is possible


Ruth and I will be presenting a range of public talks, workshops and retreats around New Zealand
in November/December.

We start with an evening Public Talk in Auckland on Thursday November 14th (which will be followed up by a weekend in Auckland on November 30th and December 1st), then there are a range of other events.

We are delighted to be including our first meditation retreat in New Zealand (which quite a few Aussies have also booked for already!) - December 2 -8.

Please do let anyone you may know in NZ about the visit -  all the details are on my new public Facebook page: Dr Ian Gawler,    or the website.


  1. Great photos, great piece of advice. Please keep the inspiration coming

  2. Ian & Ruth please keep us in your thoughts right now. We are leaving our beautiful barn and farm - all sold up and we want this process to be life giving not life taking.
    Your wonderful healing is always in our thoughts. J&B

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