Startling Advice from a Father

Tommy Johnson Sr. gets in your face with How I Survived Absolute Terminal Cancer

*A book review (reprinted through the courtesy of Radioactive Drag Racing News

“. . . I thought about walking into his office and shooting. Yes, murder! I’d be dead from the cancer before I ever came to trial.” In this blunt, no holds barred edict, Tommy Johnson Sr. unapologetically lays out his views of living and dying with cancer. He is crystal-bullet direct in how he survived and how we can apply his example. Perhaps one can even avoid cancer by following a list of his very detailed instructions.

Exactly what worked for him, and should you choose to follow? Written by a determined cancer conquistador, you will know your answer long before finishing this survivor’s handbook.

Moreover, you will enjoy a fresh appreciation of having fine health and living life.

You take a headstrong guy like Tommy Johnson, Sr. — the underdog in a drag race, but simultaneously a bulldog fighter in the quarter mile — and put him through the emotional wringer of a death sentence with no hope, no chance. Then, you let him discover — on his own — a way, a methodology to survive. This is what you will get: A kicked-in-the-butt Pit Bull amped with the nitro of life, which is an extreme sense of urgency, blended with 100% intense, personal revelation. Move out of the way, he’s coming through, obstacles or not.

All can learn for our own personal lives from his book, insights you will not hear, certainly, in polite conversation. Unpretty things, too. But perhaps, just perhaps on this Mother’s Day, it is the kind of book that can save your mother’s life, your child’s, a friend’s, or save your own. What better gift is there?

Opening his story, don’t expect a comforting read serving you a cup of warm words with a side of buttered prose; instead, expect to be confronted, challenged and then awakened to the dangers he found on the rough, rough road to surviving. On one level, you will meet people who helped his survival. Conversely, his most forceful wrath and distaste is saved for those he thinks were booting him down death’s highway, just as nonchalant kids would kick a discarded can. 

His book is riveting, no doubt about that — no finessing his dire situation or time line. He is told to go home, “get your affairs in order; you’ll never see Christmas,” you are a walking dead man. And, oh, have a nice day.

Take a step back and view this tale from a different perspective. Perhaps it is his startling directness giving this message special meaning. However, there seems to be something more going on here, emitting from a higher calling. Consider this possibility: He has lived his whole life unknowingly preparing for this exact time and circumstance, where all of those past life experiences jelled, morphing into these rules for surviving and even preventing the cancer that struck him.

Maybe this is Tommy Johnson Sr’s true mission in life, his destiny, coming decades after a horrific dragster crash left his colin upside down and reversed in surgery, only found during his cancer ordeal. Maybe the true mission for his life is to be now,  preaching these lessons decades after the love of his life is tossed out of a dragster in a ‘harmless’ powder puff race, spinning her wildly in the air, the blond hair lifeless as she crashes to the ground in a condition first thought terminal (photo below, family in the early years).

It is his singular focus on the reader’s well-being, how he can help right now, grabbing your attention fast like being put in a small cage with a very anxious tiger.

As he writes, “Don’t be afraid to walk down the unconventional path. It might just save your life.” And Tommy Sr. has not walked a conventional trail anywhere in his life, self-described as “. . . wild women, racecars, and drinking (and) partying.” But this cancer business, causing him to “stare death in the face,” changed all of that. “I’m a 1000 percent better husband than before . . . It also made me a better father, but, most of all, it changed me into a better person.”

His foibles had to be dealt with, he had to come clean before he could write these stark and literal words and mean them, before they would have validity, credibility, and the potentiality of changing your life. “I guess you can say that coming so close to death really causes you to get your priorities straight in life.”

In the midst of awfulness and pain, though, come moments of true joy. For instance, getting these extra years “to spend every day with my two grandsons . . . I now want to live long enough to see them graduate . . . Now every day is precious, the sky is so much bluer, and the ones who love you and you love, mean so much more to you.” (picture of son, grandson below).

Really, you do not just read Tommy Johnson Sr; you hang on to his intensity like a cowboy riding an eight-second bull, all the while learning from his evangelizing. So, here is short list of his ideas explained in the book; the answers remain for your discovery. Rest assured — they are controversial. I call them:

The Top Ten Tommy Teachings:

Tommy teaches how much you should contribute to cancer research
Tommy teaches when to get chemo
Tommy teaches what to buy at a fast food restaurant
Tommy teaches when cancer will be cured
Tommy teaches how often you should drink tap water
Tommy teaches the most dangerous job in nitro engine teardowns
Tommy teaches if stress can cure cancer
Tommy teaches why cancer treatment should not be the goal
Tommy teaches how a B-17 is more than just a plane
Tommy teaches why apricot kernels are a better food than corn kernels

If reading his book on cancer doesn’t shock you into straightening out your life in many ways, the cover will. There is nothing like facing the black-robed, scythe-carrying Doctor of Death staring you in the eye, sizing you up as a full moon hangs in the background. Plus, the covers are tinted in an unsettling gangrene green.

So . . . who should read this book? The answer is quite simple:

Only those who want to live longer.

To get your copy now of “The True Story of How I Survived Absolute Terminal Cancer,” go to

(Note: This article is reprinted here through the courtesy of Rob Geiger, owner and publisher of Radioactive Drag Racing News at . Rob is a major figure in the world of professional drag racing. I am privileged to write for his publication and sport as I am for snowshoe racing and Snowshoe Magazine. The subject of this book, cancer, crosses many boundaries. Ryan Alford, publisher and owner of Snowshoe Magazine, felt readers should be exposed to this information.)

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About the author


Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition including drag racing, his favorite motor sport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING:Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING:Keys" in a unique way. Currently he has two books in the works.
Twitter: @iHarmonizing