Full title: “Laugh, Sing, and Eat Like a Pig: How an Empowered Patient Beat Stage IV Cancer (and what healthcare can learn from it)
- Advance praise from luminaries (I was happily stunned!)
- Read the reviews on Amazon
- Buy it on Amazon
- Buy it on Amazon UK
This book is a digest of the cancer journal that I kept on CaringBridge.org in 2007, when I almost died of Stage IV kidney cancer, but survived. It’s my real-time notes about what it felt like at the time, especially how I used my attitude and mind to help all the medical efforts the doctors and nurses were doing. I had an incredibly supportive community of friends and family who posted responses every day, and many of those are included too.
What’s the title about??
It’s the approach I chose to take to the news that I had a lethal cancer – a summary of the advice I got in the first few weeks after diagnosis, before I even started my journal:
- “Laugh” is for the healing power of laughter, as famously discussed by Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins in his book Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient
- “Sing” is the advice my doctor gave. I had asked if I should drop out of my much-loved championship chorus to save energy, but he said, “You don’t want to stop doing life activities that you love – it sends the wrong message.” Wow. So, okay, laugh and sing! Not bad. (More on what “Sing” meant to me in this post.)
- “Eat like a pig” refers to the diet the hospital sent me, to increase my caloric intake, to combat weight loss and prepare for the battle ahead.
In my online community I told people “If I ever write a book about this, that’s what I’ll call it.” And I did.
Admittedly, that’s not a conventional approach to a deadly disease. But that’s the point. And the whole story’s true.
Why a book with this message?
4,000 people a day (in the US alone) discover they have cancer, and face that moment of “What on earth do I do NOW??” I know that feeling. Some look for what to do next; others don’t even think they can do anything — they just think they’re screwed and go into depression. This book is about hope, getting it in gear, and going “e.” (E-patients are “empowered, engaged, equipped, enabled, and educated.”)
What’s the vision?
I’m committed to a world where healthcare works better – and not just for patients but for the people whose work is to deliver care. I agree with the words of Warner Slack MD, who said patients are “the most under-utilized resource” in health IT, and I think it applies to all of healthcare.
Healthcare today has unprecedented challenges. Let patients help (which a year later became my TED Talk, then my next major book).