05 June 2017


Shopping in my favourite nursery for new plants a few days ago and this somewhat elderly gentleman approaches. “You don’t know me,” he says “but back in the mid eighties I had cancer with a bad prognosis, bought your book, followed all the recommendations and here I am.”

You Can Conquer Cancer has been in continuous print for 33 years. A new edition just released has a new cover. So to mark the occasion, thought it would be fun to document how the covers have changed over the years and to tell a few stories.

Plus a gentle reminder that Ruth and I will be presenting the retreat Mindfulness and Meditation in Daily Life in Queensland July1 -7th and there are still a few vacancies, but first

       Thought for the day

   What can we gain by sailing to the moon 
   If we are not able to cross the abyss 
   That separates us from ourselves? 

   This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, 
   And without it, 
   All the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.

                                     Thomas Merton

1984. A very evocative year. Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop officiates at the launch of You Can Conquer Cancer, gives a stirring speech, and causes me to shed a tear. True. It was deeply moving to have the great man, then Patron of the Anti-cancer Council (now the Cancer Council of Vic), speak so strongly in support of what was a radical idea for those days – that people with cancer could contribute not only to their own wellbeing, but to their chances of surviving the disease. Weary became an important personal mentor and remained a strong advocate for the work throughout his life.

The first cover probably remains my favourite, not only for the photo taken by fashion photographer Derek Hughes, but for the circumstances around the taking of the picture.

The book was ready for publication; just waiting for the cover. Derek had a junior colleague die recently of the same cancer that I had recovered from – osteogenic sarcoma. He was keen to help by taking the cover shot, but was about to go away on a long shoot. It was mid winter and the weather had been terrible, all the more problematic as Derek wanted this early morning, very still sea on a pier at Melbourne’s bayside.

We waited days for a suitable break in the weather, but just one bad day after another.

Finally, despite the forecast of more wind and rain, the day of Derek’s leaving arrived and we decided we just had to make the best of whatever the weather offered.

So at dawn we gathered. Unbelievable. The wind was non-existent; the sky clear. We took the shot and within half an hour it was windy and raining again! Synchronicity at its best.

A new cover, the second, was again taken by Derek in the mid nineties.

This time he wanted a wave bursting up into the sky to provide a white backdrop to me resting on the rock.

Was never sure this really worked… What do you think?

The actual copy of the book remained as it was in its first edition up until 2001 – 17 years!

Given that the book speaks of fundamental lifestyle related things people can do to maximize their quality of life and their healing potential; nothing much really changes over time.

These are well tried and proven basic recovery techniques.

Anyway, a minor update was made to the text in 2001,
for which Peter McConchie took a lovely portrait at our home.

Peter also took my favourite garden photo that you may have seen – me with a basket brimming full of summer vegetables.

Then came a major new edition, released in 2013 that did involve the first really major re-write of the book; so much so that it was close to being a new book altogether.

Much detail was added on things like nutritional medicine, including why particular recommendations are made.

There was debate about whether to rename it, but given its long track record, the decision was to stay with the existing You Can Conquer Cancer.

The cover for this re-write was shot in a studio and literally involved walking in, sitting down, being instructed to look directly into the camera with a good heart – and click. Literally a 5 minute portrait. That is a true professional. Many thanks to David Johns.

And now with this latest edition, released in 2017,
a decision to use the same word based cover
as has been used for the book’s recent re-releases
in the USA and the UK.

And finally, just for something completely different, the cover of the recently released Chinese edition.

You Can Conquer Cancer has now been translated into 13, maybe 14 languages and around 350,000 copies have been printed. They say the average book is read by around 4 different people, so this one has been read by around 1.5 million people.

The book stands as a tribute to the difficulties I went through in the seventies, but more-so, to all that has been learnt for the thousands of people who attended groups and gave feedback as they tried the recommendations and reported back on what was helpful and what was not.

My wish is that the book continues to be helpful to many more people and that many more like the fellow in the nursery use it to transform their lives for the better.

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July 1 -7th Mindfulness and Meditation in Daily Life

We have had many requests to present a meditation retreat in Queensland, so this is it. This retreat will focus on integrating mindfulness and meditation into daily life.

I know when I first started, meditation was something I did for a few minutes (or hours) every day; but at first, I then went back to my day as if nothing much had happened. The real benefit of these practices is in how they inform our daily life, so this retreat will be very practical.

We will practice mindfulness and meditation together formally, and then use the rest of our time to bring the qualities of the practice into our daily experience – in a way that we can take them home and maintain them. My sense is that for many this could well be life changing.

We are fortunate to be able to use the facilities of the Chenrezig Institute – a purpose built Retreat Centre in the hills back of the Sunshine Coast.

October 9 – 13th Meditation Teacher Training – Module 2

In this training we use a fully documented manual to learn how to teach 2 4 week programs one on guided imagery; the other contemplation. These training have been booking out, and like all our retreats, it is wise to register early.

1 comment:

  1. When this edition will be available in India, any idea?---T.P. Bagchi