A Life Restored By Nature
A book by Patrick Herzog with Art Courtesy of Robert Bateman
★ Awarded the B.C. Best Books For Everyone 2018, non-fiction category!
For years, the trail of his life led through dense marshes, high mountain forests and steamy jungles studying wildlife. Then it stopped with just one word. Cancer. For the next seven years, Pat Herzog was pursued by chronic leukemia until undergoing life-threatening experimental treatment. Thereafter, he was relentlessly bushwhacked by fatigue and brain fog, skirting the edges of depression. Then an unusual encounter with a tiger awoke his lost passion for nature, and he began to overcome his fear of living. More than an authentic tale of illness, TIGER, TIGER – A Life Restored By Nature is a story of hardiness, faith and renewal. And it is tangible proof of the undeniable healing powers of nature.
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Why I Wrote Tiger, Tiger
I received phenomenal support from my doctors, nurses and the many staff who cared for me during my months on Unit 57. They always seemed to know the words I needed to maintain my confidence, and their sense of humor (and occasional teasing) made me feel they were truly sharing my journey.
My weekly, semi-monthly and eventually monthly visits as an outpatient were always met with “So good to see you again” or “Hey, you are looking great, Pat”. I was welcomed as if I were the lost son returning home. Their friendship kept me in the game during my episodes of doubt, especially when I was afraid of living (Chapter 12 Fear of Living).
But how might I give back? What could I do to acknowledge those who had helped me? How could I share my experiences with others facing cancer?
When I spoke to friends about writing a book, most responses were lukewarm, and in a few instances, met with “That has been done so many times, no one wants to read another story about cancer.”
I didn’t want to just write a story about the disease, and especially not one that focused on mental and physical suffering. My thinking about how to proceed remained stymied until I realized how I could show readers how nature led to healing.
Once again, my love of nature came to the rescue.
More from the Author
If you would like to know more about the role of nature in my recovery, please continue on to the Author’s Note in the book.
Author’s Note ✎
“I wrote this book because nature saved my life.
I did not climb a mountain to obtain self-enlightenment. I did not hike across the wilderness to banish my demons. I did not sail across an ocean to test my mettle. The cancer I had was in complete remission, but I was dying anyway, until I was rescued by nature.
Perhaps this is not surprising, because nature has always been my companion. It was waiting outside the back door when houses like ours were invading the rural countryside that was Green Bay, Wisconsin in the 1950s. Honeybees and bumblebees swarmed through neighborhood lawns overrun with white clover and dandelion—my friends and I caught them in glass mayo jars, pounding nail holes into the lids so the insects could breathe. We chased monarch butterflies, and the rarer yellow swallowtails, and at dusk we watched bats dive at the green apples we threw into the sky, telling the youngest among us that bats could get snarled in their hair. We looked for fireflies in hay meadows, and toads in window wells under the streetlights.
We had secret camps in the nearby parcels of vacant forest—stands of oak, maple, basswood and hickory. We reached them by sneaking through the orchard that bounded our neighbor-hood, crawling through the culverts underneath the railroad tracks we were forbidden to cross, and running across pastures, ducking beneath electric fences to escape the curious dairy cows that followed (and scared) us. We built forts, stuck our hands in anthills as a test of strength, lit stick matches on the zippers of our pants, ate burned hot dogs off the ends of sharpened sticks, and learned to avoid stinging nettles and poison ivy. I pretended to be Daniel Boone
When cancer crept in decades later, I was somewhere in the jungles of Costa Rica…”
Excerpt from Chapter 22 Windshield Biology → This excerpt is about biology, nature and healing : When I had conducted field studies before my transplant, my ultimate source of satisfaction was often the accomplishment of having collected the data. But now, though the...read more
Excerpt from Chapter 19 A New Body → This excerpt is about cancer recovery and exercise: A Good Day: Three to four hours of passable energy so I can function normally around the home, which includes the occasional foray for groceries, car maintenance, or a school or...read more
Excerpt from Chapter 12: Fear of Living → This excerpt is about depression and cancer: I think about the guns in my closet. I debate loading them, each time closer to being unable to see an alternative. I look at the phone, my hotline to Unit 57. I watch it for...read more