David Cervarwa-Shreiber “Antirac”. Excerpts

David Cervarwarber learned that he had a brain tumor when he was 30 years old. In his book “Antirac” (Ripol Classic, 2010) he returns to the experienced.

“I will never forget that October evening in Pittsburgh: I rush on a motorcycle to the research center;Trees along the road are flamed with colors of autumn … In the center, Jonathan and Dug are waiting for me, we have the next series of experiments. Our students help us in this (for a modest reward): “Permissful” they roll into a tomograph, where he performs various intellectual tasks, and we record the testimony of the apparatus. Students adored our research and always waited for the digital picture of their brain: having received it, they immediately hurried to adapt the picture as a screensaver for the monitor of their computer.

By eight o’clock the first student appears. The second to which was scheduled for nine to ten hours does not come. Jonathan and the arc offer me to be a “experimental rabbit”. Of course, I agree – of the three of us, I know the worst of all in technology. I climb into a tomograph – a cramped pipe, where I have to lie with my hands tightly pressed to the body, almost like in a coffin. […] Jonathan and arcs are sitting in the next room, behind the control panel, we communicate on the speakerphone. And then I hear: “David, we have a problem. Something wrong with the pictures. We’ll have to start all over again “. Okay, I’m waiting. Start again. […] The voice of Jonathan: “Listen, there is a mess here. We will come now “.

They approach the tomograph to put forward the table on which I am lying, and, leaving the pipe, I see a strange expression on their faces. Jonathan puts my hand on my shoulder and says: “You can’t conduct an experiment. You have one thing in the brain there “. […] There could be no doubt: there was something rounded the size of a walnut in the area of the welcome bark on the right. With this location, this could not be a benign tumor that we sometimes saw […]. I could not have illusions about what we found. At the late stage, brain cancer kills a person in six weeks, with treatment – in six months. I did not know what stage I had, but I knew statistics. We all three were silent, not knowing what to say “.


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“I was lying in bed and watched a thin stream of smoke from my cigarette rose to the ceiling. I could not fall asleep. I was lost in my thoughts. Suddenly, I absolutely clearly heard my own voice: it sounded inside me with amazing softness, confidence, clarity – it was a completely new sensation, hitherto unknown to me. I did not control him, and yet this inner voice belonged to me. At that moment, when it was knocking in my head “it cannot be that it happened to me, it is impossible,” my voice said: “You know what, David? It can even very much, and this is not the end of the world “.

And then something inexplicable, strange happened: from this second, as if paralysis had come off me. Evidence was revealed to me: yes, this is possible, it is part of the human life, many people survived before me, and I am no exception. There is nothing wrong with just a person, completely a person. My brain itself found a way to alleviate my condition. Later, when I was scared again, I had to learn how to own my emotions … But that evening I fell asleep


, and in the morning I was able to go to work and act in such a way as to begin to resist the illness and look in the face of my own life ”.


“When on the other end of the wire, on the other side of the Atlantic, my father’s cheerful voice came, my heart pinched me. There was a feeling that I was going to put a knife into it. I tried to cling to what he knew, and began to literally follow the instructions that he once gave to his colleagues. First report the facts – briefly, without going into the explanation. “Dad, I have cancer … brain. Analyzes confirmed the diagnosis. This is a rather serious shape, but not the worst. They say that you can live with this for several years, the pain will be tolerant. “. Now wait. Do not fill in the pause with empty phrases. I heard my father’s voice trembled. Then he said with difficulty: “David … cannot be …” It was not customary for us to joke on such topics. I knew that he understood everything. I was still silent, imagining how he was sitting in his office, straightening up in a chair, in the pose that I knew so well, preparing to accept the battle, as he knew how through his life. He never evaded the fight […]. But now there will be no fight. Neither military operations, nor in the sharp of the article that needs to be written. I moved to the third part: now talk about what exactly I’m going to do. “I will look for the one who operates me. Depending on what they discover during the operation, we will decide whether it is necessary to do chemistry or irradiation “. He heard me and accepted what happened.

Soon I discovered that the disease gave me the opportunity to first taste something like a new self-awareness, which was not without advantages. For example, for a long time I was tormented not to justify the huge hopes that my father had on me. I was the eldest son, and he put the bar very high. He never said this directly, but I knew that he disappointed him, becoming “only” a doctor.

He wanted me to go into politics and succeed in where, perhaps, he himself did not fully realize his ambitions. More than a serious illness at the age of 30, I could no longer disappoint him! And suddenly I felt freedom. The obligations that crushed me from early childhood disappeared in an instant. I no longer have to be the first at school, at the university, in science … I no longer need to participate in the endless race for perfection, power, and intellectual impeccability. For the first time in my life, I had a feeling that I could lay down a weapon and breathe ”.

“I refused therapy using the latest technologies, since the doctor who offered me this method seemed to be completely stroked with communication with his computer, and not with me and my fears, doubts and hopes …”

“I suddenly ended up in the gray world, the world of people without titles, without properties, without a profession. No one is interested in what they are doing or what they think about – only their last X -ray pictures are of interest. I noticed that most doctors could not treat me at the same time as a patient and as a colleague. Once visiting I ran into my oncologist, a brilliant specialist whom I really appreciated. I saw how he turned pale, got up from the table and said goodbye under some kind of unintelligible pretext. I suddenly had a feeling that there was a certain “living club” and they make it clear to me that I was excluded from it. I felt scared. It is scary that they will perceive me as a person of another breed – breeds of people who define themselves through their illness. It is terrible to become invisible. It is terrible to stop existing during life. Perhaps I was to die soon, but I wanted to stay alive until the very end!”


“Find out that you have cancer, is a shock. You feel that you were betrayed by life and your own body. But find out that the disease is back is terrible. You suddenly find that the monster that you already considered defeated did not die, but followed you on the heels in the dark and finally overtook you. Will there be never peace from him?

When they told me that I had a relapse, all the suffering and all the horror experienced for the first time flashed before me, and I told myself that I had no strength to go through this test again. […] I went out to walk alone. The head was buzzing. I still cannot forget the confusion that swept me then. Finally, I managed to focus on breathing, calm a storm of thoughts and turn inside with words that in some ways very much resembled a prayer: “O my body, my being, my vitality, talk to me! Let me feel what is happening to you … Explain why you allow you to do this with you. Tell me what you need. Tell me what nourishes you, that gives you strength, which is best protecting you. Tell me how we can go this way together, because I alone, with my own head, could not do it and now I don’t know what to do. “

After a couple of hours, self -control returned to me, and I was ready to bypass doctors in a new circle. “.


“Like most patients, the more I received information, the more I was lost. Each doctor who examined me, every scientific article that I read, every site on the Internet on which I entered brought significant and convincing arguments in favor of a particular method of treatment. How to make a choice here?

As a result, only deeply immersed in myself and listening to myself, in the end I was able to feel that it would be true for me. I abandoned the ultra -modern method using the latest technologies when the computer leads the computer, because the one who offered me told it exclusively about the technical side of the matter and seemed more interested in his robot than my fears, doubts and hopes. I preferred a surgeon who I liked with my clear look and the feeling of warmth emanating from him: with him I felt that they were “treated”, even before he began to examine me. There is a small enough: smiles, intonation, some simple words. I liked the phrase that he told me: “We never know what we are facing during the operation, and I can not promise you anything. The only thing you can be sure of – I will do everything in my power “. And I felt that he was saying sincerely, that he would really do everything he could. I needed this belief;much more necessary than equipment in the latest technology “.

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