To Be Alive!

Author: Chris Hessler

Reviewed by Sally Alderson

This is an account of how a young man fought – and won – the battle against brain cancer. In his forties, Chris had everything: a top education at Dartmouth, a great start to a promising career, a loving wife with whom he founded a successful business, five children, a dog and two cats, plus inspiring and supportive parents. Oh yes, and part of his childhood and youth was spent in that lovely city, Geneva!

“I had never really had anything bad happen to me. I often wondered if one could live a life devoid of suffering.“

In the book he describes the shock of diagnosis, the determination to fight, and the long sometimes depressing journey through treatment. He pays heartfelt tribute to his oncologist and the team at the Massachusetts General Hospital for their dedication and determination, trying new treatments as he improved, relapsed and improved again. At one point, he reckoned he had a near-death experience and a feeling that, instead of being so sick and confined to the hospital, “maybe I’d rather be dead.“ But as he began to heal he put together what he called a Healing Dream Team : neural and orthopedic physiotherapists, a holistic chiropractor, a homeopathic physician and nutritionist, and a “soul reader” or life coach.

The book includes testimonies by his parents, wife, two children, and his own conclusion, which most cancer survivors identify with: “I think I’ve learned about compassion, gratitude and smelling the roses. I’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff and to not worry about things I can’t control. I’ve learned a lot about energy management and balance and the importance of nutrition, exercise and sleep. I decided to rid myself of any negative energy in my life. All in all, I really like the new and improved Chris.“