09 March 2015

Inspiration, Hope and Direction – Great cancer survival stories

Paul Kraus - Long term survival from mesothelioma

There is something incredibly powerful in the sharing of real human stories. Especially when it comes to surviving against the odds.

Sure statistics and research are useful, but stories add so much more. In the sharing of direct experience, personal stories inspire us, they offer real hope and they inform how we might respond if faced with difficulties of our own.

Ruth and I are in the fortunate situation where we meet remarkable survivors regularly. For example, just last week in Sydney during the course of presenting an evening seminar, 3 such people met up with us once more and recounted their long-term cancer survival stories following coming to one of our programs many years ago.

Last week too, I had lunch with Paul Kraus and his wife Sue; Paul probably being the longest survivor of mesothelioma in Australia and the author of Surviving Cancer. Sharing a brief account of his story on my Facebook page led to a huge, appreciative response and it is this that has inspired me to share his amazing story more fully in this post, then to regularly document and share the stories of others in future blogs. But first

       Thought for the day

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth,

So a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. 

To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. 

To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over

The kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.

                         Henry David Thoreau 

It seems almost impossible to me to imagine what it would be like to be born in a concentration camp. Not only was Paul Kraus actually born in one of the notorious Austrian concentration camps, but he survived the first 9 months of his life in that most inhospitable of environments.

This fact says so much about what an incredible mother Paul had, but also of his own tenacity and basic resilience. Paul’s mother managed to escape through the camp’s barbed wire before the allies arrived as she feared many incarcerated there would be killed before the liberation.

To eventually ending up in Australia must have seemed like coming to a polar opposite – literally on the opposite side of the world, and a country with such different freedoms and opportunities. Paul converted to Christianity and his spiritual life has been central to all he does. He spent much of his working life as a high school history teacher, having completed a Master of Arts and Education.

In June 1997 Paul was diagnosed with widespread abdominal mesothelioma. The prognosis was very poor – months not years. In consultation with his doctors, Paul gave long consideration to medical treatment options and due to the poor predicted outcomes, decided to decline all, including surgery.

Wife Sue had read You Can Conquer Cancer some 6 months earlier and the two of them joined a 10 day cancer program at the Gawler Foundation’s Yarra Valley Living Centre.

There, at first meeting, Paul made quite an impression on me. Paul was so keen to learn and do whatever he could to recover, but also he had an extremely high level of anxiety.

Obviously Paul consents to his personal details being shared and he has well documented his transformation in his own words, but the main point here is that during the program Paul found the hope he needed.

              Paul and myself early March 2015

Paul had arrived at the program hoping to recover, but with little idea of how that might be possible. Genuine hope is more than just wishing for a good outcome. Genuine hope is implicit upon the fact that what you wish for is possible. Paul realized healing was possible and there was a way to do it.

What Paul learnt during the program set him on a healing path based upon a radical lifestyle change. In Paul’s words

“I adopted a healthy, predominantly raw food diet, juicing, extensive times each day meditating, with special emphasis on healing imagery, as well as prayer and using healing affirmations, not to mention the taking of a number of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, designed to boost my immune function and to give my body an optimal chance of healing.

“We were at the beginning of a long journey that was to have times of trial and testing.”

Paul’s condition deteriorated a little over the first 6 months, not an uncommon experience as the body detoxes, gathers strength and begins to heal. It takes time for a big ship moving forward with a lot of momentum to change direction. It can take time for a big illness to change direction.

Paul persevered. As he learnt more about cancer itself, the self-help options and Complementary Medicine, he steadily added more to what he was doing. Slowly he improved.

Nine months after diagnosis, Paul flirted with a return to work, but this quickly proved counter-productive. He realised getting well required his full time commitment. Over the next few years, Paul had a couple more setbacks coincident with family stresses, but each time managed to regroup and pick up.

Eventually he went back to work as an author, writing a series of inspirational and informative self help books (see below). Paul also started a local healing group and runs a regular meditation group in Newcastle. Very popular!

There have been no more mesothelioma recurrences, but incredibly, over recent years, Paul has been diagnosed and overcome the effects of a meningioma (brain cancer) and prostate cancer.

What a survivor!

I asked Paul recently what he thought had helped him most. He replied “What I did was very important, but really you know, it is the mind that has been of most importance. Training my mind, using my mind, transforming my mind; that has been the most important thing.”

I have to observe that Paul’s presenting anxiety is completely gone now, but that really it has only fully left these past few years. Now even the most casual observer will notice the air of peace and calm that Paul exudes.

My sense is that Paul will enjoy his old age with quite a different view of life than the one he began with.

And also just to mention that I have been also able to witness how much support, strength and guidance Sue has given to her husband. They are quite a team. Many thanks to both of you for sharing something of what continues to be a remarkable life.

Paul’s final offering?

“I remain well and love life. Every day is a gift and I thank God for everything. The world has been kind and I am always grateful that I was given the challenge of cancer back in 1997. It was the means of straightening my life, of taking away the stresses of my 'old' self and it taught me more than any number of doctorates.”

Ruth and I really enjoy the opportunity to lead full cancer residential programs together.

We will be presenting the follow-up 5 day residential cancer programs for the Gawler Foundation this year, and we will also present one full 8 day program in New Zealand that will be well suited to anyone who has not done a program with us before, as well as another follow-up program in New Zealand.

The follow-ups always include the key elements of providing a refresher, a deepening of what you have already been doing and the opportunity to meet and learn directly from like-minded people, but then each program focuses on a particular theme - like accelerated healing, sustaining good intentions and so on.

All programs for 2015  CLICK HERE

CANCER and BEYOND  May 2015   Monday 4th at 11am to Friday 8th at 2pm

Five Day Residential Follow-up Program at the Gawler Foundation in the Yarra Valley

This program is specifically designed for those with cancer along with their support people who have attended a previous Gawler Foundation program or equivalent such as with Sabina Rabold, CSWA, Cancer Care SA, CanLive NZ, or with the Gawlers

A unique opportunity to meet with like-minded people once again, to consolidate what you already know, to learn more from the combined knowledge, experience and wisdom of Ian and Ruth, to reaffirm your good intentions, and to go home refreshed and revitalised.

FULL DETAILS Click here 

Eight day residential program in New Zealand   May 15th  –  22nd , 2015

All welcome; attendance with a partner/ support person is ideal but not essential.
Many join us from Australia for this program and if you have not been there before, Wanaka is one of the most scenically beautiful places there is - very conducive for the program.

This program will lead you through all the self-healing options:
. Therapeutic nutrition
. Practical positive thinking
. Therapeutic meditation, plus the healing power of imagery and contemplation
. Accelerated healing
. Healthy, healing emotions
. How to get the most out of mainstream treatments and minimize side-effects
. How to be most effective as a support person/carer, and to look after yourself in the process.

I actually lead most of the main sessions, with support from Ruth and 2 exceptional New Zealanders. We live in for the full program so there is plenty of time for questions and personal interaction.

This program is organized and supported by Canlive New Zealand.



You Can Conquer Cancer  :  Ian Gawler – the reference text

Surviving Cancer :  Paul Kraus – 28 remarkable cancer recovery stories of long term survivors from the Gawler Foundation, collated and edited by Paul

Radical Remission :  Kelly Turner - Great new book - lessons learnt from around 1,000 long term survivors!
Surviving Mesothelioma and other Cancers :  Paul Kraus

Faith, Hope, Love and Laughter – Republished as In Good Spirits  :  Paul Kraus – a collection of writings on healing. Michelle Anderson Publishing 2014

Prayers, Promises & Prescriptions for Healing  :  Paul Kraus Ark House Press, Sydney, 2012. More of Paul’s wisdom in relation to healing.

Mother Courage: From the Holocaust to Australia (Yet to be published.) : Paul Kraus recounting his mother’s story.

Accelerated Healing 101

Your food as medicine

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing some of the wonderful moments in Paul's life. I can only imagine what he has learned and heard in his youth that contributed to make him an exceptional individual with a taste of never giving up, as Winston Churchill puts it. What propelled me to look and find a story as inspiring as your story Ian, is precisely the experiences that I went through when I was younger. At that time, many of my family members used to host for short or long periods of time, family members during their recovery. One family friend we used to call ''aunty'' stayed 2 years with us. Before moving in, my parents took the time to prepare us to the fact she was so sick she was very thin, and almost scary, and that she was here for healing as opposed to the doctors giving her a few weeks to live. My parents believe that people can heal and they made it clear to us. Well, it so happened that I never heard the word ''remission'' while she was with us, and as she was steadily and slowly healing. So, she went on recovering, then moving out with her husband, and spending many good years after. This story became a beacon in my life, I reached out to this beacon when I was sick a few years ago in the following sense: I just could not use the word ''remission'', I never heard it in my family at a time where I could have heard about it ! I never heard this word in my family ... all I heard about this experience is healing, healing, healing ! You are sick or you are not, you believe in healing or you do not believe in healing. My parents are 85 and 87 and still pushing for healing when they need to do so, and my experience keeps building up in this area. I wrote you an e-mail probably last fall on ''remission'' Ian, to challenge its validity during the healing process. Not that I wish to be convince about the pros and cons of this word, but I just hope I would see more people refraining from using this word both mentally and verbally. In the meantime, I keep reading your books Ian, applying meditation skills in other areas of my life such as anxiety that can cause so much damage as I found out. At this point is it possible to know if Paul Krauss had to leave with anxiety all of his life or had to deal with it after a sudden unexpected and catastrophic even for which he had no control. Thank you for sharing Ian.