Flash back to October, 1994. A teenage cancer patient made national headlines when he ran away from home to escape chemotherapy. Billy Best was 16 at the time and living with his family in Norwell, MA. After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Best endured a few rounds of traditional chemotherapy, but the harsh treatments made him so sick and so weak, he made his own decision to discontinue treatment. He decided he would rather live his life – however short it might be – on his own terms. He packed his bag and ran away, not yet knowing how that single act would put him on a path of discovery to find an alternative way of healing.
Now 35 and a father himself, Best has partnered with Linda Conti of Sandcastle Memoirs to write and publish his new book, “The Billy Best Story: Beating Cancer with Alternative Medicine.” It has been almost nineteen years, and Best has remained cancer-free. He continues to advocate for the rights of individuals to choose alternative treatments.
On that fateful day so long ago, without so much as a word of farewell to any of his friends, Best gathered up his few belongings, his skateboard, and a sum of a few hundred dollars and hopped on a Greyhound bus. Final destination: California.
He never made it that far. After several days of traveling alone from city to city, Best reached the state of Texas and settled in with some fellow skateboarders in Houston who befriended him and gave him a place to stay. Meanwhile back in Norwell, Best’s family was frantic and fearful for his safety and his deteriorating health. After several desperate days, they contacted the news media in a last-ditch attempt to locate their ill son.
The story of the runaway teen traveled like wildfire, appearing in newspaper headlines and on network news programs across the country. Police in numerous states implored the public to watch for a “bald teenager on a Greyhound bus.” Reporters camped outside the family home as Best’s parents waited by the phone, praying their son would call.
Thanks to the vast media attention, an outpouring of support from the public started to reach the Best family in the form of letters and phone calls. It seemed everyone had advice for young Billy Best. It was the promise of alternative medicine that finally convinced him to return home and seek out the therapies he could live with. In the decade that followed, as his recovery continued to defy the norm, Best made numerous appearances on television talk shows and at natural health conferences around the U.S.
An integral part of Best’s cancer treatment was his commitment to making significant changes to his diet – changes that are outlined in his book – including the use of Essiac Tea. Over the last eighteen years since he was diagnosed, Best has been heartened to see a gradual but growing awareness about how what we eat and what we put into our bodies can make a significant difference when fighting disease or just in keeping a well body strong. “It’s great to see the local food movement now, and to see people taking a more critical look at the foods they buy and eat,” he said.
An inspirational story of hope and triumph, “The Billy Best Story” is available online at Amazon.com and in local stores throughout the Boston and Cape Cod, MA areas.