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photograph of Viktor Frankl
cover of Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning
Why this book?

The Relevance of Viktor Frankl to Cancer Patients (and their loved ones)

by Robert Young
Webmaster, Phoenix5

When we are no longer able to change a situation - just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer - we are challenged to change ourselves. - Viktor Frankl
Let's be blunt.

Cancer creates fear and suffering for patients and their loved ones.

It starts with the diagnosis and it can extend through brutal, degrading treatments that can push patient and caregivers beyond every limit imagined and then threaten us with more.

The process can denigrate, humiliate, terrify, brutalize, punish, ravage and challenge us (for I am a patient who was diagnosed as "end stage") to question our values and our very lives.

In the past 18 months that I have devoted myself exclusively to the objective of Phoenix5, I have corresponded with literally thousands of men and women and have seen this fear and this struggle. All I can bring is some advice but Viktor Frankl brings more and I think his message applies to everyone touched by this disease.

Viktor Frankl survived four Nazi concentration camps and was witness to men who had no reason to live, who felt they would be better off dead and yet he counseled them to live in the worst conditions and situations that any people have possibly ever endured.

Substitute "cancer" for "concentration camp" and "patient" for "prisoner" and - in my opinion - his insights apply to our (collective) situation and they can offer inspiration.

He learned why people give up and die.

He learned why people can and should live, despite everything.

He learned how to find and maintain meaning, value, hope and dignity in the most brutal circumstances, the most degrading lifestyle imaginable.

But most of all, he realized that the lessons apply to anyone who is terrified or suffering and trying to find meaning and a reason for their life and he does it in a way that can be assimilated by Christian, Jew, Buddhist and atheist alike.

We seek the advice of people who have undergone treatments that we are considering and we even seek their emotional support. And there are a lot of inspirational books and stories out there but I cannot think of a person who is more qualified to advise on how to meet adversities than Viktor Frankl.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone - cancer or not - whose life has become terrifying and/or hopeless and who is questioning their situation and their life.

It is also an excellent resource for people who are dealing with others in these situations.


Go to Some Sample Quotes


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Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <>.