Phillip Gary Smith, Media Columnist

Saturday, May 8, 2010
Tommy Johnson Sr. gets in your face with his new book, How I Survived Absolute Terminal Cancer.

“I thought about walking into his office and shooting. Yes, murder! I’d be dead from the cancer before I ever came to trial.”

In this blunt, no-holds-barred edict, Johnson unapologetically lays out his views of living and dying with cancer. He is crystal-bullet direct in how he survived the dreaded disease and how we can apply his example. Perhaps one can even avoid cancer by following a list of his very detailed instructions of exactly what worked for him.

Should you follow his advice? Written by a determined cancer conquistador, you will know your answer long before finishing this survivor’s handbook. Moreover, you will enjoy a fresh appreciation of having fine health and living life.

You take a headstrong guy like Johnson — the underdog in a drag race, but simultaneously a bulldog fighter in the quarter mile — and put him through the emotional wringer of a death sentence with no hope, no chance. Then you let him discover — on his own — a way, a methodology to survive. This is what you will get: A kicked-in-the-butt Pit Bull amped with the nitro of life, which is an extreme sense of urgency, blended with 100 percent intense, personal revelation. Move out of the way, he’s coming through, obstacles or not.

All can learn for our own personal lives from his book, insights you will not hear, certainly, in polite conversation. Unpretty things, too. But perhaps, it is the kind of book that can save your mother’s life, your child’s, a friend’s, or save your own. What better gift is there?

Opening his story, don’t expect a comforting read serving you a cup of warm words with a side of buttered prose; instead, expect to be confronted, challenged, and then awakened to the dangers he found on the rough, rough road to surviving. On one level, you will meet people who helped his survival. Conversely, his most forceful wrath and distaste is saved for those he thinks were booting him down death’s highway, just as nonchalant kids would kick a discarded can.

This book is riveting, no doubt about that — no finessing his dire situation or time line. He is told to go home, get your affairs in order; you’ll never see Christmas, you are a walking dead man. And, oh, have a nice day.

Take a step back and view this tale from a different perspective. Perhaps it is his startling directness giving this message special meaning. However, there seems to be something more going on here, emitting from a higher calling. Consider this possibility: He has lived his whole life unknowingly preparing for this exact time and circumstance, where all of those past life experiences jelled, morphing into these rules for surviving and even preventing the cancer that struck him.

Maybe this is Johnson’s true mission in life, his destiny, coming decades after a horrific dragster crash left his colon upside down and reversed in surgery, only found during his cancer ordeal. Maybe the true mission for his life is to preach his lessons decades after the love of his life is tossed out of a dragster in a “harmless” powder puff race, spinning her wildly in the air, her blond hair lifeless as she crashes to the ground in a condition first thought terminal.

It is his singular focus on the reader’s well-being, how he can help right now, grabbing your attention fast like being put in a small cage with a very anxious tiger.

As he writes, “Don’t be afraid to walk down the unconventional path. It might just save your life.” And Johnson has not walked a conventional trail anywhere in his life, self-described as filled with “…wild women, racecars, drinking, (and) partying.” But this cancer business, causing him to “stare death in the face,” changed all of that. “I’m a 1000 percent better husband than before. It also made me a better father, but, most of all, it changed me into a better person.”

His foibles had to be dealt with, he had to come clean before he could write these stark and literal words and mean them, before they would have validity, credibility, and the potentiality of changing your life. “I guess you can say that coming so close to death really causes you to get your priorities straight in life.”

In the midst of awfulness and pain, though, come moments of true joy. For instance, getting these extra years “to spend every day with my two grandsons. I now want to live long enough to see them graduate. Now every day is precious, the sky is so much bluer, and the ones who love you and you love, mean so much more to you.”

Really, you do not just read Johnson; you hang on to his intensity like a cowboy riding an eight-second bull, all the while learning from his evangelizing. So, here is short list of his ideas explained in the book; the answers remain for your discovery. Rest assured — they are controversial. I call them…

The Top Ten Tommy Teachings:

  1. Tommy teaches how much you should contribute to cancer research
  2. Tommy teaches when to get chemo
  3. Tommy teaches what to buy at a fast food restaurant
  4. Tommy teaches when cancer will be cured
  5. Tommy teaches how often you should drink tap water
  6. Tommy teaches the most dangerous job in nitro engine teardowns
  7. Tommy teaches if stress can cure cancer
  8. Tommy teaches why cancer treatment should not be the goal
  9. Tommy teaches how alternatives are more than just a plane
  10. Tommy teaches why apricot kernels are a better food than corn kernels

If reading his book on cancer doesn’t shock you into straightening out your life in many ways, the cover will. There is nothing like facing the black-robed, scythe-carrying Doctor of Death staring you in the eye, sizing you up as a full moon hangs in the background. Plus, the covers are tinted in an unsettling gangrene green.

So who should read this book? The answer is quite simple: Only those who want to live longer.

Get your copy now of “The True Story of How I Survived Cancer”.