Dying To Be Me
4/10 Well, I guess this review warrants to be put in context. 3 months ago I was diagnosed with a rare type of childhood/adolescence cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. I’m a little old for it (23) but here we are, shit happens. I’m roughly mid-way through my treatment with overall 5-year survival chances of ~70%. Scans are looking good though and I am both positive and managing relatively well despite the disgusting chemo side-effects.
With the context established, my mom gave me this book a few days ago, as a must read in my current situation. Well, after reading it, I beg to differ mom…
Although I’m genuinely happy that the author went through a miraculous self-healing process during her Near Death Experience (NDE), I don’t really see how this brings hope to other cancer patients, nor how does it qualify her to teach how to heal yourself. Throughout the book she is very reluctant to state definitive answers, guides, or methods and always says that this is just her journey, her opinion. She paints a picture of a super deterministic world where her faith is given and you just have to open up yourself and receive the eternal love. Yet, towards the end of her writing she extensively talks about how one should live a life in order to not get cancer, or how one should live a life to self-heal. The book also feels very repetitive, all the way to a point that if you would just read any chapter in the middle of it, you would get 80% of the message.
That said, although I am a very science-based person and my type of cancer appears to be an unlikely genetic mutation with causes we are yet to understand, the book did make me reflect on my past “traumas” and “experiences”. As humans we love to construct stories and draw causal chains of reasoning out of the tiniest potential patterns, just to feel like we have a stable ground under our feet. I think that’s what the book is doing and why it is so highly praised. It plants a seed in reader’s mind that there might be some f-ed up thing in your past that caused your cancer and now you just need to accept it, process it, and self-heal through being kinder to yourself. Is that a message that some people need to hear? Absolutely. Can it help them heal through some yet undocumented psycho-social pathway or just a good dose of self-fulfilling placebo? Very likely. Is it a worthy guide on how to live your life and heal from cancer? I don’t think so.
Anita Moorjani grows up in an Indian family where she doesn’t fit the role of a good daughter and a future obedient wife. This causes her to live in fear and low self-worth, which according to her, is the root cause of her cancer diagnosis. She tries to fight the cancer for 4 years through alternative routes until she ends up in comma due to her disease progression. In comma she goes through a Near Death Experience (NDE) where she connects with the divine all-encompassing ether and chooses to live on, cancer free. This leads to her rapid recovery and a new appreciation for how to live life full of self-love, happiness and enjoyment.
- it’s a self-help/motivational literature for terminally ill
- we love stories! There’s no tangible evidence that her fears manifested as cancer. Yet it is the story she constructed and the story that helped her heal (apparently)
- are there some nice bits and pieces on how to live a fulfilling and joyful life? Sure there are, but one needs more than just sitting on the beach for hours, eating ice cream, appreciating the sunset
- I like the end part where she basically says there’s no right way to live a life. Different religions and ancient health practices totally contradict each other yet in each there are healthy, happy people living their best lives
- if you are wondering why the book spine is in weird language, it’s because I read it in Czech (a copy my mom had)