In the 1970s when I was a young brand manager at Pedigree Petfoods, a division of Mars Inc., one of my advertising agencies Ted Bates appointed a new Account Director to work on my business. Chris Woollams had previously worked for Grey and Ogilvy & Mather in London and New York. I found his attitude refreshing as he really wanted to understand my whole business, not just sell me an advertising campaign. We became good friends and he even accompanied me on overseas trips to visit sister companies. On one of these his wife came with us with their baby daughter Catherine. We worked out that we were contemporaries at Oxford and almost certainly played football against each other. I was at New College and Chris was at St Peter’s Hall where he read biochemistry. I still have records of my football career and played against St Peter’s Hall four times. In 1968-9 we lost 0-4. At the end of that season I was a member of our 5-a-side team that reached the semi-finals and then drew 2-2 with St Peter’s Hall in a third place play-off and so shared 3rd
place. In 1969-70 I scored in a 4-3 win but then in 1970-71 we lost 1-3. As we were contemporaries Chris probably played in all four games.
He went on to become the youngest chairman of a London agency at Ted Bates but left after Saatchi bought it and then founded his own agency WMGO which was listed on the Stock Exchange in 1994. Chris cashed out and ‘retired’ in 1995. After a sabbatical he formed The Woollams Outsourcing company (TWO) but was starting to think about a life outside business. He spent more and more time researching his twin passions, fitness and health. Then in the spring of 2000 his whole world changed when Catherine, now 22, was diagnosed with a brain tumour and ‘given’ six months to live. St Thomas’ Hospital had never had anyone live longer than 18 months. Chris got to work using his research abilities coupled with his knowledge of biochemistry and nutrition. Catherine lived for three and a half years.
Two doctors suggested Chris wrote down what he had found out. This led to the best-selling book: Everything you need to know to help you beat cancer
. This in turn led to requests to speak in the UK, then the USA, and Australia. Chris has now spoken all over the world from 3,000 people in Moscow to 28,000 in Japan; always on the subject of how to best empower yourself to beat cancer. As he says “There’s so much information out there – I just want to pass it on”.
He founded the charity CANCERactive which he had planned with Catherine in her final months. It is now the largest charity of its kind dedicated to providing information to people to help them prevent cancer or beat it once diagnosed. This has now become a full-time career. But he refuses to be paid for it. All monies from speeches and books are passed straight on to the charity CANCERactive to fund a quarterly magazine (icon
) and a 2000 page website[i]
A few years ago I was present when England Cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott opened his speech with “I am only here tonight because of Chris Woollams. Chris Woollams saved my life.” Chris is only interested in the facts and believes that many of the professionals deal in myths, not facts. He develops personal prescriptions (PP) for his patients.[ii]
About two years ago, CANCERactive received an email from one of Chris’ first ever PPs. That would be about 14 years ago! He’d had ‘terminal’ prostate cancer, the oncologists had nothing left to offer and he’d been sent home to write his will. “Chris was the first person to actually tell me I could beat it”, he wrote. He followed the plan and for the last six years he said he has forgotten he ever had prostate cancer.
CANCERactive has ‘terminal’ patients in the USA, Australia, Korea, India, Portugal, Spain and Canada, that certainly aren’t terminal now. What’s the secret? Chris says there’s no secret. “You just cover off all the bases, do the important things and help someone build a really healthy body. That tends to take care of the cancer. It’s really not rocket science but of course there are those who want you to believe it is. But be clear. I don’t deal in false hopes. I deal in research. Solid quality research is really important to me.”
Chris finds serious quantitative research that might have led to the banning of the use of a particular chemical in say, cosmetics in say, Japan when the same stuff is still freely sold in the US or the UK. He’ll find serious quantitative research that proves that a particular drug is not only ineffective but positively harmful. He’ll find evidence that cancer is likely to have been caused by stress or poor nutrition or other lifestyle choices and so it is by addressing these causes that it can be cured rather than by horrendously invasive, damaging and painful chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
While people like Geoffrey Boycott like to call Chris the ‘cancer guru’ he himself makes no such claims. He is not a Doctor, nor does he claim to be one. He has no special healing abilities. Nor does he offer to ‘cure’ people. But he was an Oxford University Biochemist who after his first degree was offered the chance to go on and do a DPhil[iii]
. He chose to go into the communications industry instead but he had the foundation knowledge. When his daughter was diagnosed with cancer he started researching potential treatments all over the world, and he found so many that could help a young girl in serious trouble. These were treatments with quality research behind them that could make a difference, but for all sorts of reasons were not being passed onto patients.
There are major research studies that show that people who actively manage their stress survive much longer. National Cancer Institute scientists produced a report on the benefit of a good diet and bioactive natural compounds. The American Cancer Society produced a meta-study report in 2012 stating that “since 2006 there had been an ‘explosion’ in research into complementary therapies and ‘overwhelming’ evidence that they could increase survival and even prevent a cancer returning.”
This report exposes one of the greatest myths of modern medicine; namely the mindless mantra that “we are beating cancer due to earlier diagnosis and better drugs”. According to Chris it is simply not true and there is no rigorous research supporting this claim.
In researching this blog I found a biography of Chris online where I am quoted: “Says David Pearson, formally Chief Exec of Sony in the UK[iv], "Chris is a great bloke. He has turned personal adversity into the opportunity to benefit thousands of people.”
I stand by that.