The language around cancer treatment is often linked to wars and battles, and avant garde jazz saxophonist and activist Fred Ho takes this military association to new levels in his creative and touching memoir Diary of a Radical Cancer Warrior: Fighting Cancer and Capitalism at the Cellular Level. Sympathetically performed by respected audiobook voice actor Peter Altschuler, Ho's diaries detail his 2007 fight against colorectal cancer. Honest and provocative, Ho uses the violent imagery of war to great effect, acknowledging all the way that that history's greatest warriors, from Sun Tzu to Bruce Lee, penned daily diaries to win, first, on a spiritual level.
The war on cancer in one soldier's own words.
When American saxophonist and social activist Fred Ho was diagnosed with stage 3b colo-rectal cancer in 2006 he underwent immediate surgery to remove the tumor and began preparing for chemotherapy. Within days his friends mobilized to arrange grocery deliveries, transport, companionship, and housekeeping duties - they called themselves “Warriors for Fred”.
Fred chose to write his astonishing cancer memoir as a diary, acknowledging that all the greatest warriors from Sun Tzu to swordsman Murasashi to Bruce Lee wrote daily diaries because warfare against a most formidable enemy will be won, ultimately, on the philosophical level. With incredibly detailed entries, Fred talks frankly about his battle - his meticulous research, his various treatments, his successes, and his failures. Together, he and his loved ones discuss plans for future artistic projects: a new opera on Antony and Cleopatra, a project with a native Alaskan totem carver, and an underwater ballet for synchronized swimmers. He learns to find joy in the simple things: the beauty of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, a fresh pork bun, or a night of Battlestar Galactica on DVD.
Above all, we learn what it means to truly live in the present - through Fred’s unflinching description of the effects of colon cancer - and about his search not just for “a cure” in a medical sense, but for true healing. For Fred, this includes understanding the way of the warrior - one who fights for beauty, justice, health, equity, and sustainability.