What I Know About Cancer. Today.


Not my wife Trici
who died in 1999
or our first-born child
our daughter Erin who died in 1990
but my oldest son Rory
who died
at the age of 13 in 2005
from a brain cancer
called glioblastoma multiforme.
A kind of cancer for which there is no cure.

I did not wear the telltale yellow LiveStrong bracelet
(this was before Lance got honest)
although both my sons and many of their friends did.

I did not want to LiveStrong.
Not 24/7.
I wanted to live honest.
Which at times included
and wondering
and wailing
and despair.

So I did.
Try to live honest.

And I couldn’t jump on the “we hate cancer” bandwagon, I didn’t wage war against it, I wasn’t in for the “fight of our life,” and although I tried in the beginning to visualize healthy cells killing the cancer cells, that never rang true for me. Not really.

I didn’t see the point of subjecting my most amazing
brilliant son
to chemo
and whole-brain radiation
(“It’s not rocket-science Mr. Zuba. Anyone can do it. We literally bombard his brain with as much radiation as we can.” the doctor said to me one Friday afternoon.)
Sounds barbaric.
“Why do it? For what?” I asked.
To buy some time.
Possibly a month or two.

No thanks.
Not my kid.
Not this time.

I decided to move in the direction of hope
instead of dancing with “there is no hope, he’s going to die”
for the next few months.

I explored.
Eastern medicines.
Alternative treatments.

And midway through the journey
I came to the conclusion that somehow
it’s all God.
It’s all God.
All of it.
Even the cancer cells
that were destroying my son’s brain.
It became clear
to me
that the cancer cells were not destroying him.
No way.
No how.
Not the essence of Rory,
his soul,
his spirit,
his energy,
were untouchable
and could not be destroyed by cancer.
And neither could mine.

we could become enriched.
And we could expand.
If we said yes.
To the invitation that cancer extended to Rory
and to me
and to hundreds
and hundreds
of other people who travelled with us on this most incredible trip.
So we did
say yes to the wild, unpredictable, often unnerving ride
that is living with someone you love
who’s been diagnosed with a terminal cancer.

And after his death
I’ve thought long and hard about this thing we’ve named cancer.
(Believe it or not, I worked for the American Cancer Society for six years. It’s where I met my wife.)

And I’ve decided
I don’t believe we will eliminate cancer
from the human experience
by continuing to cut it out,
burn it out,
or bombard it with poison chemicals.
No matter how much pink we wear
no matter how many miles we walk
and no matter how many strides we make.

We won’t “cure” cancer
as long as we continue to do the same things we’re doing today.
In 2014.

I believe that the collective we
creates and continues to create cancer
of all kinds ~
including the glioblastoma multiforme
that ended my son Rory’s stay in his physical body ~
by the choices we make
every day.
We are killing ourselves.
And we’re killing our parents, our grandparents, our spouses and partners, our siblings, our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends and acquaintances, and we’re killing our sons and our daughters.

And until the majority of “we,”
human beings,
who continue to demand, manufacture and consume foods that cause cancer,
who continue to create, buy and use products of all kinds that cause cancer,
who continue to allow companies and corporations to pollute the very air we breath and the water we drink with cancer causing agents,
who continue to allow pharmaceutical companies to limit research into ending the “big-business-of-cancer” once and for all,
make different choices
we will continue to live with cancer
and we will continue to kill ourselves
and each other with cancer.

And that’s what I know about cancer.
There is a new way to do grief
and life
and we must become the teachers.

If you'd like to explore working one-on-one with Tom using FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or Facebook Chat please click: Working with Tom.

To learn more about Tom’s best-selling books click: Permission to Mourn: A New Way to Do Grief." and Becoming Radiant.  Join Tom’s Healing Circle on Facebook (www.facebook.com/tomzuba1), follow Tom on Twitter @ TomZuba, at YouTube and find him on Pinterest.


  • Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

  • Dear-Dear Tom,
    YOU are the most remarkable, spectacular human being ~ Husband/Father I’ve ever met‼️ Yes, you’ve been in the deepest, darkest pit perhaps more times than what you’d like to count, and yet, you are following the Holy Spirit’s guidance by using what you have learned through your personal saga of intense suffering to educate and be available for your fellow
    brother/sister. What courage you have! What fortitude you display! What great Love for all whose lives you touch! I’m honored beyond words to call you my Friend. Thank you-Thank you. Always.
    With Love, marie adrienne n.

    Marie Adrienne Nichols
  • Hi Drew,I am so sorry I did not get to spend time with you to hear about what you are doing. It’s so great, I pray God continues to bless you in every way. I love when I hear stiroes like yours, where you get involved doing something that brings you to meet people and share stiroes. Your mom is so proud of you, and I know she is watching over you! Keep up the good work. Lots of love and success, from another mother all the way in the caribbean!NoydaCoqui del Mar Guesthouse

  • I lost my own precious daughter at age 13 to glioblastoma multiforme. I lost, we lost. She did not lose. A battle implies a fair fight. Cancer wanted her, cancer took her. I’ll ever know why but the question has to now become What now?

    Lucy's Mom
  • Thank you for talking about NOT wearing the LiveStrong bracelets and not jumping on the "We hate cancer’ bandwagon. When my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer in 2009, I was devastated. She has made it for 6 years and every day I am grateful. But I just can’t do the walks, and the pink ribbon, and all the other cheerleading everyone expects me to do. When I think about that stuff I just want to cry. I feel like it suppresses real true grief and forces a person to “think positive” about an awful disease at the worst time in their lives and that of their loved ones.

    We live with cancer
    We hold our breath when a test is taken
    And have been allowed to breath a sign of relief when we get good news.

    I give my mother healing
    I ask for another day, month, year
    And know that one day my request may not be granted
    But pray extra hard that this one will be.

    Thank you.


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