4 out of 4 stars
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Winning the War on Cancer by Sylvie Beljanski is a very powerful book. It not only addresses cancer, which one can gather through the title, but also the trials and tribulations that revolve around alternative medicines in general. Sylvie Beljanski is a lawyer by education, but her parents dedicated their lives to researching alternative medicine that could cure and prevent cancer. Her father, Mirko Beljanski, made numerous scientific breakthroughs up until he was falsely imprisoned, had all of his research taken away, and his laboratory was closed to him. Shortly after this, he passed away.
Upon his death, Sylvie promised to continue his work, not knowing what that would entail. This book follows Sylvie as she attempts to keep her promise. She works with many scientists and doctors around the world who understand her father’s work. She even makes trips to the jungle in an effort to secure plant medicines necessary to his research. It includes aspects of her personal life which were affected by her experiences. It also incorporates stories from people who were affected by her father’s research.
I don’t tend to enjoy books heavy on scientific research, but I can honestly say that this book was a very interesting read. It incorporates enough personal substance to make it a smooth and enjoyable read. It contains a good deal of technical information, but Beljanski offers ample descriptions and footnotes throughout the book. These allow the reader to follow the general meaning, if not the deeper intricacies.
I found the introduction and foreword to be a bit daunting and more negative than the remainder of the book. They gave the impression that the book was going to dwell on how natural remedies are suppressed. They also focus on how ‘big pharma’ will do everything possible to quash what that they can’t turn into profit. Although this is a running theme in the book, it is by no means the core idea. That being said, the story of her father and her subsequent journey clearly show how those issues are valid.
It was interesting to read about government responses in another county. As her father’s research was all done in France, I was able to get a glimpse of the similarities and differences of how some things are handled across national borders. It was also interesting to read how different organizations were either open to the research or completely against it. It reinforces how money and stereotypes can influence opinions.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I think that it has extremely pertinent information for anyone affected by cancer or an auto-immune disease. It could even be applicable to those interested in overall better health. Although the specific medications described in this book may not be of direct benefit to everyone, the ideas behind the book and the research being done are important. Beljanski promotes obtaining an understanding of all of your options, not just natural or alternative. She brings up the fact that you should always ask questions, know all your options, and don’t just accept the first word as fact. People interested in natural remedies or alternate news stories would also find this book a good resource. It is definitely not a book for someone looking to have a relaxing read or who solely enjoys fiction. Also, because of the terminology, I wouldn’t recommend it to the younger reader unless they are very advanced or doing research.
The book seemed to be professionally edited. I only found one very trivial grammatical error. It kept my attention very well for a non-fiction scientific research type book. The information in it was well-delivered, and the data given was documented in detail at the end of the book. The supporting and additional material at the end of the book added useful information and was categorized nicely for easy use. For these reasons, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
Winning the War on Cancer
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