NOTES FROM A DYSLEXIC PUBLISHER # 4
Selecting the books you wish to publish
can be part of a well-structured business plan. On the other hand,
it can come from a place far more personal . . . such as cancer.
It was 2007. I had already been publishing books on the topic of cancer for a number of years—covering both conventional and alternative approaches. Through the process, I had learned a good deal about cancer by speaking to many doctors and cancer survivors who wanted to share their knowledge and stories. I would have thought that I would be better prepared for the day my wife was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. For the most part, I knew that thyroid cancer was highly curable. What I was to learn, though, was that there are two rare and especially deadly forms of thyroid cancers out there, and my wife had one of them. It was called Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer (ATC), and based upon the medical statistics available to me, only one to two percent of those diagnosed with ATC survive. The news was difficult to hear, and reading about the disease on the internet only made things worse. All the medical websites that we visited described the illness as “Fatal.” We needed a decisive course of action—quickly.
The first thing we did was to find, contact, and visit a reputable, well-established cancer hospital. The physicians with whom we met were nothing less than honest about my wife’s tough prognosis. Given the short time she was told she had left—only three weeks to three months—my wife wanted to undergo the conventional treatments of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. As her treatment progressed, I contacted every one of the cancer specialists and alternative doctors that I knew. Each and every one of them came back to me with the same response: They knew of no existing treatment, alternative or otherwise, that showed any measurable effect in the fight against this particular cancer. The hospital, now in charge of my wife’s treatment, was conducting a number of clinical trials with an always-evolving source of newly developed drugs, but the results for ATC were poor.
The day before Christmas 2007, my wife underwent her first operation. While my family and I sat together in the hospital’s waiting room, my daughter-in-law told me about an article she had just read in The Wall Street Journal. It was about a father whose seven-year-old son had been diagnosed with a different type of rare and aggressive cancer. There was a treatment for it, but if it failed, the cancer would likely return and go on to kill the child. His child underwent the treatment, and while the initial results were good, the cancer came back. The father had learned about a psychology professor at U of C at San Diego, who was given a similar diagnosis and told to go home and prepare to tie up any loose ends before his death. But the professor did something very different. Without any medical protocols to follow, he put together a mix of natural supplements and off-label drugs that all had been shown to reverse or disrupt cancer cell growth in some manner. Working closely with his son’s doctor, the father used the same approach for his son that the San Diego professor had employed—and the treatment worked. I must have read that article ten times.
While my wife continued to undergo conventional treatments, together we searched for a qualified oncologist who would be willing to work with us. As luck would have it, we found one. Once my wife’s full set of treatments had been completed, our new doctor provided us with a wide assortment of natural supplements and off-label drugs that my wife was to take—every day. Her cancer came back twice, and she was operated on twice. But when it came back, the pathology report showed that the disease had changed. It was still ATC, but it now presented no positive margins (hair-like growths that extend beyond the edge of the tumor’s malignant tissue). Unlike the original tumors that had been surgically excised, the new cancer cells were nowhere near as aggressive as the original cells. After a third operation, my wife appeared to be free of cancer. The hospital doctor called her his “miracle patient.” However, he did not want to know what we had done after all the hospital treatments had been completed. That was twelve years ago, and I am lucky enough to still have my wife with me—still cancer-free.
Based on what my wife’s experiences, it took me two years after her initial prognosis to convince the alternative oncologist with whom we had worked to write a book based on this approach. Beyond the Magic Bullet: The Anti-Cancer Cocktail ($16.95 USD, ISBN: 978-0-7570-0232-8) by Dr. Raymond Chang was the book I had the honor of publishing. And, as it turned out, the San Diego psychology professor and cancer survivor from The Wall Street Journal article—Dr. Ben Williams—was kind enough to write the book’s Foreword.
But there was more to come. After the intense radiation treatments my wife had endured, she had a very hard time swallowing foods. Her throat had partially closed due to the swelling, and she was in pain every time she tried to eat. I called another of my Square One authors—Sandy Woodruff, RD, one of this country’s top nutritionists—and asked for help. Working with fellow nutritionist Dr. Leah Gilbert-Henderson, Sandy was able to create a dietary program that allowed my wife to minimize her pain while maximizing her nutritional intake from a bevy of foods that she could actually swallow. Based on the success of their work, Sandy and Dr. Gilbert-Henderson then wrote what would become Square One’s best-selling special needs title, Soft Foods for Easier Eating Cookbook ($18.95 USD, ISBN: 978-0-7570-0290-8). Once the book was out, we learned that there were a great many other health conditions that could benefit from the recipes in our book.
Three years ago, as my wife continued to live a happy and productive cancer-free existence, her breathing started becoming a problem. The three operations performed on her lungs to remove the cancer had taken their toll. I wanted once again to do all I could to find a way to improve her breathing, so I called another one of my authors. Meera Patricia Kerr is a top yoga instructor who teaches people how to breathe properly. She said that she could help and that she also had a friend—Dr. Sandra McLanahan, MD—who could provide some valuable medical guidance. The information that she and Dr. McLanahan compiled became the basis for one of Square One’s newest books, Take a Deep Breath ($16.95 USD, ISBN: 978-0-7570-0481-0). As my wife and I learned, breathing issues can be caused by a large number of disorders, beyond just my wife’s condition.
I had never planned to publish these three titles, but when you’re an independent publisher, sometimes your work does become personal. You may be doing it for your own reasons, but you also know that there are people out there, just like my wife, who are affected by any number of debilitating health disorders. And you come to realize that it’s really not about producing a bestseller, but about providing essential information to people who need it. It’s just a guess, but that might be one of the reasons that Square One is now one of the leading health book publishers in the United States—just an unplanned benefit.