Without a doubt, former teacher Paul Kraus is a true survivor.
Many people would agree with the statement that a person’s attitude and lifestyle contribute greatly to their overall health and well-being. Few people, however, have had the necessity to put that theory to the test in such a direct and immediate way as Paul Kraus.
Kraus is the longest-known mesothelioma survivor in the world and author of the best-selling book on the subject, Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers, A Patient’s Guide. Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer that results from prolonged exposure to asbestos. Mr. Kraus was diagnosed with the disease in 1997 when he was just 52 years old. It is believed that he began to develop mesothelioma as an undergraduate student while working at a summer job in a chemical factory. His job at the factory entailed sweeping up dust, which was later discovered to contain asbestos.
Although not as common as some other types of cancer, the prognosis for Mesothelioma seems somewhat grim at the outset: there are treatments available for the disease, but there is no cure.
To Hell and Back
Facing such a life-challenging diagnosis would be enough to cause most people to retreat down a long, dark road of depression and despair. For Paul Kraus, however, the core principles of survival are built into his DNA. He was born in a Nazi labor camp during the Second World War in 1944. Shortly after his birth, Paul’s mother, Clara, escaped from the camp with he and his older brother Peter in tow - just in time to avoid being evacuated by the SS and forced into a death march.
These three war-ravaged escapees survived an arduous cross-country journey before finally arriving in Clara’s hometown of Budapest, where they were reunited with Clara’s parents. The family was eventually joined by Paul’s father, Jim, who had been rescued from the Mauthausen concentration camp.
After the war, the Kraus family emigrated to Australia, eventually becoming proud citizens of the country in the 1950s.
Facing the Unthinkable
Happily enjoying life in Australia, Paul attended college at Macquarie University and then obtained his Master of Education Degree from the University of Sydney. He was working as a history teacher and textbook author when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1997. When he received this stark news, doctors told him that his cancer was in the advanced stages of metastases and they approximated that he only had about six months to live. That, of course, was almost twenty years ago.
With his diagnosis, Paul was faced with a choice: either accept his fate and prepare to die or fight like hell to stay around as long as possible. For Kraus, there was never a question in his mind as to which way he would lean. In short order, he set about the work of drastically changing his life. Along with his wife, Paul attended a holistic retreat where the couple learned about altering their way of eating and living. Paul switched to a mostly vegan diet, gave up coffee completely and began performing a daily regimen of exercise and meditation. Additionally, he added an extensive list of herbal remedies and supplements to his diet.
Hope and Healing
The changes, practiced religiously over many years, have resulted in an inspiring true story of survival against the odds. Not only has Paul thrived healthily longer than any other Mesothelioma survivor, but in recent years he has also survived the removal of a large brain tumor and diagnosis of prostate cancer. Neither condition was related to mesothelioma. The meningioma was removed through a surgical procedure and the prostate cancer is being successfully treated by a German cancer clinic.
Ultimately, what Paul Kraus would like people to know is that when faced with the unimaginable news of a terminal diagnosis, there is still room for hope. He believes that it’s largely a matter of taking control of your treatment, trusting your instincts and being willing to make quick and radical changes towards achieving a pathway to healing. He knows that he hasn’t cured his cancer but what he has done is found a way to successfully control it. Although Kraus has nothing against traditional medicine, he advocates for the holistic methods that have worked well for him over the past twenty years. Consequently, he has always chosen doctors that have recommended and embraced complementary medicine as a part of his treatment plan.
Today, Mr. Kraus views his Mesothelioma diagnosis as a gift. “I was a stress-aholic,” he says. “Meso helped me to regain balance in my life by forcing me to make tough, but crucially necessary changes to my way of living.”
Written by Tisha Berg for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.