23 June 2009

Living proof: a medical mutiny

What happens when an academic gets cancer? He enlists all his scientist friends to prove science is flawed.


by Michael Gearin-Tosh

The author was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable form of bone-marrow cancer, when he was 54, and given six months to live.

Eight years later, he published this account of his response to the news, which was pretty much to ignore medical advice (since the advice was that he was due to die) and do his own thing. It's all told through the interactions of close friends, and through literature – he was an English tutor at Oxford for 35 years – which makes it, on a level, a celebration of kindness and friendship.

His challenges to the scientific establishment were debated by his academic colleagues and the medical establishment, some of whom were furious and some intrigued; his utterly eccentric quackery around healing likewise was hugely controversial in his intellectually exacting world.

Medical science would not naturally take to a regime involving twelve glasses a day of fresh vegetable juice, vitamin injections, coffee enemas, acupuncture, visualisations, Chinese breathing techniques… Truth is, though, it worked (or maybe he was just an unusually lucky man), for his health at the time of writing was robust enough.

I couldn't help myself, and Googled him to see whether he is still alive, five years after the 2002 book. Sadly, not. He died in 2005, but interestingly it was from an infection, not cancer.

(Review by Heather Parker)

Click here to buy this book.


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Cancer expert

CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst and Head of Advocacy Magdalene Seguin. For more information, visit

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules