By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
Eddie Li’s father died of liver cancer at 85 and the fact he smoked since age 13 contributed to his death. Yet, perhaps the cause of his father’s cancer was far from his thoughts as he engaged in his award-wining career for ABC News.
Eager to share his journey so others can learn from his experience Li pointed out. . . “. Cancer disease is a global issue. It does not matter who we are, where we live or what kind of culture we hold . . . ” he continued noting that only joint efforts will have an impact on addressing the cancer issue, as he agreed to be interviewed by the Asian American Press.
In 1952, Eddy Li was born to a poor Chinese family in Hong Kong. Cancer was not his first near death encounter. As a six-month old, Eddy contracted severe case meningitis which nearly killed him. Coming from a Chinese family his disease was successfully treated through Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
In 1971, at age 19 upon graduating high school got his break with ABC News. He started at an entry level position and his work ethic, talent and persistence allowed him to climb the ABC professional ladder. In 1985, Eddy had his first big break when he was promoted to video editor for Asia news coverage. Li’s career quickly blossomed as he had opportunities to travel world not only reporting the news but also among the first use the latest technology in the field.
Mr. Li shared that his fulfilling career was one of great excitement and adventure, but it also was a fast-faced and stress-filled and very demanding. While it was exciting to travel the globe, time zone differences and constant deadlines often caused him to be sleep deprived.
This lifestyle paid began to pay its toll on Li,” Since the beginning I did not pay attention to health matters. I had been behaving as if I was physically immune from all diseases. It’s an eagle attitude which was not uncommon among the young and restless generation. My mind, like most others I believe, was preoccupied by the burning desire of making money, probably getting famous too.”
Suddenly in 2006, his world turned upside down as he was diagnosed with hypo-pharyngeal cancer, a type of throat cancer: (www.cancer.org/cancer/laryngealandhypopharyngealcancer/overviewguide). Not having a lot of knowledge about cancer, his family was numbed as they went through emotions of denial and hopelessness as they felt that a diagnosis of cancer was a sentence for certain death.
Li entered the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital where he received a grueling seven-week chemo-radiation therapy treatment. He also was treated at Chinese medical clinics. He journaled his experiences in hopes one day his story would help others. This also enabled him to retrace his steps so as to learn what may have contributed to his disease. He became diligent so this would not again happen to him or his family or loved ones. Through this eye-opening journey through cancer he came to realize cancer would strike regardless of your materialistic wealth. “I have come to realize that life cannot be defined without good health and that good health cannot by bought by good wealth, for everything there is a price.”
Not possessing a lot of knowledge of cancer, he initially believed his cancer was caused by a long argument he had over the phone six month prior to his diagnosis. However as he became more educated about cancer he came to learn that his lifestyle contributed to his stage three throat cancer, “The remote cause laid in the fact the time tomb had started to click day one of my negligence of an unbalanced diet, alkaline-acidity imbalance in my body, lack of physical exercise and a stressful lifestyle. . . Looking back, it’s just a matter of time when cancer would strike.” He noted. Aside from his Western treatment Li integrated TCM. Since his childhood, he had seen the positive role TCM and dietary supplements played in keeping his body and mind healthy throughout his youth.
As a result of his experience and now that he has had an opportunity to review his own encounter and also do research, he feels effective treatments can be best achieved by incorporating Western medicine with TCM. He noted while this strategy for cancer is beginning to gain favor among some Chinese doctors who study both Chinese and Western medicine and that some Western scientists are becoming increasingly interested in validating the value of TCM, still the Western world tends to underestimate TCM’s benefits.
Since his episode with cancer, Eddy Li, has changed his lifestyle so as to avoid any things which can cause health risks. As a result he eats healthier consuming lots of fruit and vegetables, drinking alkaline water and reducing meat intake. He also does not use plastic bottles, Styrofoam containers and does not use microwave ovens and does his best to avoid consuming growth hormone fed poultry. Li also practices two types of qigong exercise which also serves to keep his body and mind at balance.
Today, Eddie Li is a cancer survivor and a retiree. He lives in Hong Kong with his wife and son who is a US educated architect. He notes he’d not have been able to survive his cancer without the loving support of his wife Annie.
While Li speaks of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle i.e. exercising, eating right, he also brings to light the impact the environment can play on health. He notes that there are some choices we can make to reduce our cancer risk such as the types of food we eat and retraining from using containers that can have harmful effects such as plastics and Styrofoam. Finally, he makes the case of incorporating TCM in the treatment of cancer.
Eddy Li’s book covers his journey as well as what we can do to reduce our cancer risk.