Reviewer Melissa Wuske Chats with Sylvie Beljanski, Author of Winning the War on Cancer
Over the eons, nature has developed key systems that are vital in maintaining the miraculous balance of forces at work on this planet. Note, for example, how photosynthesis produces life-supporting oxygen or the way certain species evolve or adapt to keep other animals, insects, and bacteria from taking over. Indeed, the endless number of checks and balances built into the system is astounding—every form of life is dependent on/affected by others.
So when we consider cancer cells, it stands to reason that nature got around to producing an effective anti-cancer agent. What is it? Where’s it hiding? Or, God forbid, was a cancer cure discovered, but dark forces in the pharmaceutical industry suppressed the findings?
Sylvie Beljanski answers that last question with an adamant “yes.” In Winning the War on Cancer, she tells the remarkable story of her father’s research into two plants—Pao pereira (a tree found in the Amazon) and Rauwolfia vomitoria (extracted from root bark known to Africa)—and how he successfully healed many patients of both cancer and AIDS. And yes, she also goes into detail about how the French government and big pharma sought to silence him.
Sylvie’s story is remarkable and exciting, including her references to additional research proving the two plants are cancer killers. We commend Morgan James Publishing for bringing the project to light. Melissa Wuske reviewed the book in the July/August issue of Foreword and then followed up with Sylvie for this week’s interview.
Your book balances personal and professional concerns: your relationship with your father, his scientific research, the legal battle his progress incited. That certainly presents a challenge for an author. Can you describe how you navigated these tensions to create a book that has heart but also is impartial and credible?
The goal was always to share information which I believe to be of great importance and relevant to people concerned with cancer, but it took me several weeks to figure out how to make the message palatable. Mostly, I knew what I did not want: I feared that something too scientific would be hard to read for lay people and I did not want to write another book about my father’s life and achievements because there are already several books available, at least in French, relating his story.
I recognized that if I wanted the reader to read through enough scientific information to be empowered with it, I had to also touch their heart by opening up myself and share my personal story and emotions. As I experienced through my conferences, it is my emotions and sincerity that captivate the audience, and only then do they embrace the scientific message. Looking back at the past twenty years, I recognize how much this story has transformed me and decided to make my personal evolution the focus of the story and intertwine the scientific information. By narrating my “teachable moments” as I experienced them and sharing my thoughts and emotions in a way as raw and unfiltered as I could, while keeping the tone as neutral as possible, I invite the reader to become an “insider” to the story and learn along with me. I started with an inventory and a timeline of the milestone moments, then turned the milestones into chapters by fleshing them out with all the meaningful scientific information I wanted to leave the reader with, as well as related anecdotes and memories that would help visualize the experience.
Can you describe a time in life, either a particular moment or season of life, when you realized the significance of your father’s impact? And was there a time when you began to understand that championing natural cancer cures was your battle just as much as it was his?
When I feel pressured by people’s demands, I tend to become defensive. But when people shared with me the positive impact that my father had on their lives and how grateful they are that they had a chance to meet him, without expressly pressuring me with anything, I allowed their emotion to sink in. My father’s funeral had a great impact on me: nobody at the cemetery was expressly asking me to step in and carry on, yet everybody was sharing how my father had helped them and their families. It was then, I think, that I started to size up his legacy.
Nevertheless, it took me many years before I would consider myself having a real voice to champion natural cancer cures. With no scientific background, and a foreign accent, I feared I lacked credibility; however, with the Beljanski Foundation sponsoring new research, we soon had new and exciting data that needed to be presented. Dr. Hall, our director of research, could not be always available so I started to fill in. Although my life was already consumed by serving the story, I just could not “see” myself within the story.
This all changed when I gave a presentation at Navel Expo—as I describe in the book’s first chapter—where there was no projector, and I could not hide myself behind the data. I had to improvise, tell the story, and naturally started by introducing myself. The audience was captivated, and I got captivated in turn by their response. That day I finally admitted that I was an actor in the story, and that the fight for natural cancer cures had become my own battle.
Certainly, given the prevalence of cancer, your book has broad appeal and the potential for a vast reach. What group or kind of person do you most want to influence through the book?
According to The American Cancer Society, the number of cancer patients around the globe is expected to double by 2030. I think everybody should be concerned. I often ask my audience to raise their hand if they ever have received a diagnosis of cancer or have a relative who has received such a diagnosis, and the show of hands is always staggering. Because the book combines scientific discussion and personal experience, I am seeing it is having broad appeal. I have had readers tell me how incredibly captivated they are by the human side of the story, while others have asked me questions in great detail about the science for further explanation. I believe that people interested in holistic medicine are most receptive to the idea of a natural approach to cancer; but I would hope that the emphasis on sound scientific validation, and quality, peer-reviewed research papers will also convince more skeptical people. I invite all of my readers to discuss a natural approach to cancer with their physicians and my last chapter includes a number of questions that I think should be asked before embarking in any kind of treatment.
Clearly, your father’s legacy and the promise of effective cancer treatment is a driving force in your life. How or when did you feel sure that you had to write a book about it? What’s powerful about putting your advocacy into this form?
For a very long time I felt that the only story worth telling was my father’s story, my father’s research, and my father’s discoveries. But when I started to consider writing a book, I first recognized that my mother had already written that book (Mirko Beljanski ou la Chronique d’une Fatwa scientifique, Monique Beljanski, Editions Evi Liberty Corp, 2001); and secondly, most of what I could speak about firsthand happened after my father passed away. Possibly because of my law degree, I have a natural reluctance against hearsay. I wrestled for a while with the idea of writing a book where my father would not be the central character and finally realized it could be even more powerful to write about the validation of the research, which is at the very core of the scientific process.
My father used to say, “When we have the power to help, we have the duty of doing so.” Once the work conducted at various prestigious academic institutions had confirmed the effectiveness of the extracts on different kinds of cancers and different stages of cancer ranging from the inflammatory stage to the advanced, metastatic, drug resistant stage IV, as well as the synergy of action with various chemotherapies, I knew there was a message of hope I had to share.
Were there any surprises in the process of writing the book, or in people’s responses to the book?
Once I had a plan, and a list of topics for each chapter, the writing process actually went pretty smoothly. The surprise was the number of seemingly forgotten memories that came back to me as I was writing, helping me to fill up the narrative with details to bring the story to life. Also, writing about the decision I made at the hospital to turn my life around, I realized that if I had not changed my life the way I did, I probably would not have been in position to write this book.
In regard to people’s responses (they have been all positive so far), why the story has had a positive impact has been a real surprise. Some seemed to have been grabbed by an experience that resonates with their own (like waking up at the hospital next to an empty chair); some have projected themselves on the trails of the Amazon rainforest to the point they still seem traumatized by the experience; and some have looked energized as they said they felt more empowered in the face of illness. Many have felt so moved they even purchased a second book to share the message with a loved one.
I’m sure people often respond to your book, “I’ve never heard any of this before? What do I do now?” What path forward can you chart—for patients, for health professionals, for the healthcare industry? Feel free to be as practical or idealistic as you’d like.
I hope the book will raise curiosity and questions. I would like readers to consider how support at the cellular level could provide them with the time they need to understand what is at the root of their illness and embark on an emotional as well as physical detox journey.
I wish every patient to be in position to consult with a health professional familiar with this line of research, if they choose to do so. I would like every patient to go see their doctors armed with the book and ask all the questions that I lay down in the last chapter, seeking for better understanding of their treatments, and ultimately, make informed choices that will include every option.
I wish health professionals will reach out to learn more—read the publications, see how this information can fit into their protocols, and ultimately provide better care to their patients (The Beljanski Foundation is already offering a one-hour CME webinar presentation providing AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™). Ideally, a more natural and less toxic approach could become the new standard of care.
What’s next for you? As an author, an advocate, a person?
It is a privilege to be an advocate for a natural way to fight cancer and help people feel better naturally. I love to deliver a message of hope which is actually grounded in sound science. They say that information is power. I will take every opportunity I can to empower people with this information and I hope to be able to carry on for as long as possible.
I have transferred the copyright of the book to The Beljanski Foundation, so all my author’s proceeds go to financing more research and more exciting data to show how some natural compounds may inhibit the growth of cancer cells, even metastatic. This research and data will be needed before it is taken in account by mainstream healthcare. At a time where life expectancy is diminishing in the US for the first time in history, this knowledge should be considered to redefine public health policies.
I have been told that the book would make a great movie script. I say, let’s dream big. There is only so much as I can do by myself, and I would love to see other voices, hopefully bigger than mine, spread the word.