Healing Essence: A Cancer Doctor's Practical
Program for Hope and Recovery
Mitchell L. Gaynor, M.D.
Here are two books on coping with cancer in the long term. Written by the director of the
largest cancer program devoted to providing free psychological/social support to patients
and their families, The Wellness Community Guide to Fighting for Recovery from Cancer
aims to reach some of the more than one million Americans diagnosed with cancer each year.
In this revised version of From Victim to Victor (LJ 10/15/87), Benjamin takes a relentlessly
cheerful, upbeat, and positive approach, emphasizing stress reduction, visualization techniques,
immune system maximization, improved diet, exercise, and use of the Patient Active concept,
which blends psychology and psychoneuroimmunology in an effort to convince patients that they
can counter their disease. He argues that in fighting to recover, patients will improve the
quality of their lives and, by following specific suggestions, will gain hope, control,
and the ability to take advantage of partnerships with their healthcare providers, support
groups, family, and friends. This energizing book has valuable appendixes to aid in this
process and is enthusiastically recommended. Gaynor is associate director at New York's
Strang-Cornell Cancer Prevention Center and a professor at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical
Center. His Healing Essence, which addresses many of the same concerns as Benjamin's book,
offers a seven-step technique called ESSENCE that stresses mind/body connections. An acronym
for experience, see, surrender, empower, nurture, create, and embody, ESSENCE is recommended
as a means of handling fear, going beyond suffering, ending melancholy, and creating hope.
While both these books focus on empowerment and self-work, Benjamin's book has the edge with
its energetic message and gentle yet firm guidance through the processes of taking control
while working within a medical framework. Recommended for consumer health and patient education