Chris Woollams & Catherine’s Butterfly Effect
There is a theory that the effects of a butterfly in Hawaii flapping its wings can be felt in London.
According to Chris Woollams (pictured here with his wife, Amphorn), his daughter Catherine was just such a butterfly. And as with the ripple effect, the impact of her life continues around the world even today. At the age of 22, she had it all. Intelligence, good looks, a degree from Bristol, a great boyfriend and a job at Vogue. And then suddenly, a terminal brain tumour.
Chris Woollams’ daughter was the catalyst behind his quest and self-determined role as a leading cancer-educator. Yes, he made a fortune in advertising and now has homes around the world in Thailand, the south of France and Kent. But he doesn’t spend a lot of time hanging out on beaches drinking rum and coke. He’s more likely to be writing or speaking on alternative ways to beat cancer.
You see, Chris’ life took an unexpected turn in 2001 when his daughter Catherine (then 22) developed a brain tumour. And yet, despite all the hype and noise, the marketing and mystique, WHO says 70 percent of cancers are preventable!
Diagnosed almost overnight with a grade 4 malignant glioma brain tumour and given just 6 months to live, Chris was determined to do all he could to help his daughter avoid what the doctors said was inevitable – death. He started reading and researching, quickly discovering there is a wealth of information available, much of it difficult to understand unless you have a science degree, a background in health and natural alternatives, and an abundance of time and money to be able to sift through it all. But the important fact is that patients who build up their body with a strong integrated programme have a 50 – 60 per cent increase in survival. Now that’s something to shout home about.
Being in the fortunate position of being totally financially independant with the time and money to do what he pleased, Chris started reading avidly, scouring the Internet and talking to complementary and alternative therapy experts in London, France and America. Together Chris and Catherine searched the world for complimentary brain cancer treatments and for how to deal with brain cancer symptoms. They were horrified at the incidence of the disease, finding that many people like themselves, were asking “What is cancer?”.
What was even more devastating than the many ‘what is cancer’ questions, were the incredibly huge amount of ovarian cancer and breast cancer victims mostly young women, at the rising rates of brain cancer (even in young children), bowel cancer and prostrate cancer. They were almost overwhelmed at the difficulty of deciphering the myriad of cancer treatments, the numerous natural cancer cures, the alternative cancer treatments. What they did discover however was that integrated cancer treatment programmes: these natural cancer cures and alternative cancer treatments, ´increase survival times and can even prevent a cancer returning´ and they certainly help in dealing with or alleviating the wide variety of cancer symptoms.
All Catherine’s oncologist (after-all, his prognosis was 6 months) would say was, “Don’t worry. We’ll give her a good summer.” so doing something else as well seemed common sense, even to her family who supported the medical or orthodox cancer treatments she underwent. There was so much information ‘out there’ that Catherine, overwhelmed by all the negative press, unfortunately left it to Chris to do the research. I say unfortunately, because I do think that the individual themselves is the one who has to overcome entrenched beliefs, to place their faith in alternatives, to go against the stream.
Chris wrote a diet plan for Catherine, even buying the foods and supplements and taking them round to his ex-wife’s home where Catherine was staying. As well Catherine embarked on courses of cranial osteopathy and hands on healing, plus yoga and exercise classes. The result? At 6 months Catherine was alive and kicking. And with every three month scan she improved further, easily passing the 18 month ‘record’ that St Thomas’ had for this disease.
Sadly, flushed with all this supposed success, and not really understanding the real issues, Catherine returned to the more normal life of a 24 year old, going back to smoking and drinking, and stopping the exercise and supplements. As Chris mourns “What does go through the mind of a young women when told she has beaten the invincible?” The cancer returned.
Frustrated that the abundance of information was not being passed on, they determined to do something about it. They founded CANCERactive, a charity that doesn’t just cover orthodox methods but has extensive coverage of complementary and alternative therapies whose web site receives thousands of hits every day! CANCERactive (more on CANCERactive here) aims to provide all people, regardless of age, colour, sex, race, creed or financial status, absolutely all the information available on cancer, its causes and possible cancer treatments, so that they can make more informed personal choices and thus increase their odds of beating the disease. Their site provides suggestions for cancer prevention – it may come as a surprise for you to know that The World Health Organisation states that up to 70 per cent of cancers are preventable!
As Editor of ICON Magazine, (Integrated Cancer and Oncology News) Chris continues he and Catherine’s initial aim: to bring to anyone and everyone touched by cancer, the very latest news and information on anything and everything that might help, in an interesting, readable and easily understandable format. As their Mission Statement states, at all times, they endeavour to be impartial, independent in presenting their findings, having a clear focus on the needs of all people touched by cancer. Chris’ charity CANCERactive has the ICON magazine available free in over 600 UK Cancer Centres. Chris has now spoken all over the World from 3,000 people in Moscow to 28,000 people 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”.
Read what Chris says about Catherine and her Cancer journey, his frustration with the medical hold on peoples minds and their resistance to alternative therapies, the resistance he and his daughter encountered from his ex-wife and her new husband to his alternative ‘mumbo-jumboo’ treatments, and the frustration to everyone’s lack of understanding of the real issues she was encountering. So just how does this pettiness, this not-invented-here, this we-know-better-even-if-we-can’t-help attitude help a cancer patient?
Sadly, on October 22nd 2004 at 2.00 am Catherine passed away. The oncologist had told her parents when he first saw her, that he ‘gave’ her 6 months maximum to live, as it was a grade 4 cancer then. The most anyone has lived with it was 18 months and Catherine survived three and a half years, after many unsuccessful chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions. Her longevity undergoing such severe treatment is a testament both to her willpower and to the support of the swag of alternative therapies she used at the same time. We all wonder how she might have gone, if she had been willing to refuse the orthodox cancer treatment.
Chris Woollams is on a mission. With a degree in Biochemistry from Oxford University which included a period in cancer research, Chris left university and spent 22 years on sabbatical in advertising and marketing before re-entering the natural health arena. At 32 he became the youngest ever chairman of one of the world’s largest communication groups; later he founded, built and sold his own group of nine companies. The last nine years of ‘retirement’ saw him study nutrition, body energy and become qualified in a variety of health matters from Reiki to personal training, all (he thought) purely out of self-interest. It was to stand him in good stead in the last years of his daughter’s life.
About Chris Woollams
- Born July 4 1949, is currently the head and founder of the UK cancer charity CANCERactive.
- He graduated from Oxford University in 1972
- He built an extremely successful career in advertising, becoming MD of Publicis and then the youngest-ever chairman of an international agency group in London, (Ted Bates) before setting up his own company, Woollams, Moira, Gaskin, O’Malley who were for a time the fastest-growing, private UK communications group.
- With 9 companies and 74 clients, WMGO joined the stock market in 1994.
- A year later in 2005, Chris ‘retired’.
En route to this, he had also founded the UK company Spiral Cellars, building wine cellars for private homes.
- Chris then set up a New Ventures Business Consultancy called The Business Development Partnership, helping amongst other things, to launch Virgin Active, the Health and Fitness chain, whilst studying Nutrition.
- Chris became a major force behind the launch of CANCERactive, Britain’s only Integrated Therapy Cancer Charity, in trying to help his daughter.
- Chris has also recently launched an online discount chemist operation, and has a health company entitled Rainbow Foods together with a developing Wellness Resort (Rainbow Valley) in Thailand.
- He has published six books in recent years on health and cancer including ‘The Rainbow Diet – and how it can help you beat cancer’, and Britain’s best selling cancer book, ‘Everything you need to know to help you beat cancer’.
- He is listed in Debrett’s People of Today and International Who’s Who and is a Freeman of the City of London.
- Integrated Cancer and Oncology News (icon), a quarterly magazine freely distributed in over 420 hospitals and cancer centres in the UK
- 2001: Everything You Need to Know to Help You Beat Cancer
- 2003: The Tree of Life
- 2004: Oestrogen – the killer in our midst. Cancer – your first 15 steps
- 2005: Conventional Cancer Cures – what’s the alternative?
- 2008: The Rainbow Diet – and how it can help you beat cancer
- Over 400,000 copies of a CD which was an interview with Chris about Beneficial Bacteria and called ‘The Secret Source of your Well Being’ were distributed in the UK in 2008.
EDUCATION AND AWARDS
- York House School
- Watford Boys Grammar School, 1960-67 2 ‘S; levels, 4 ‘A’ levels, 13 ‘O’ levels
- St Peter’s College
- Oxford University 1968 – 72. MA Biochemistry
Biography: Christopher John Woollams was born near Watford in Hertfordshire England and remains an avid follower of the local football club. He was educated at Watford Boys Grammar School where he became head boy, after a vote by the whole sixth form. Apart from excelling academically and winning a scholarship to Oxford University he played Hockey and Cricket for Hertfordshire Colts and Chess for Hertfordshire. At Oxford he played cricket for The Authentics and football for Centaurs, apart from representing his college in everything from rugby to table tennis! He still managed to earn a degree, being offered a first to stay on and do a doctorate in cancer research with Peter Cook, now Professor.
Instead he went into the world of advertising, joining Ogilvy and Mather in 1972. A few years later he moved to Grey Advertising working in London and New York and being associated with a number of creative awards, on Corning and John West, for example. He returned to Ogilvy and Mather in 1979, becoming a Director and working on a number of award winning campaigns. During this time he played football for Epsom and Ewell, in the Athenian League and Cricket for The Wanderers and Streatham CC in the Surrey Championship. He is listed in Wisden. He then reverted to Hockey with Cheam, and became number 1 at squash at Sutton and Cheam and Oxshott squash clubs.
Wines: In his spare time, through an interest in fine wines, he met and advised a French wine cellar builder on how to market his invention in the UK. Cave Harnois became Spiral Cellars in the UK, and Chris’ original business plan built a successful company in the UK, which was later sold.
Advertising: In his Advertising life, he moved with a group of Ogilvy and Mather staff to join the new Publicis agency in London in 1979, helping consolidate the agency and grow it from number 38 to number 18 in Britain over just under three years. Former UK Managing Director of Renault, Patrick Faure, said that ‘Chris re- invigorated the agency and helped Renault almost triple market share.’ This success saw Ted Bates make him their UK Chairman in 1984, at the age of 35. After 3 months he also took on the role of Creative Director and under his tenure they developed one of the most successful worldwide campaigns ever, the ‘Ain’t no Mountain High Enough’ campaign for DHL, which ran for 18 years. To solve the agency’s revenue decline, he merged the below the line operations and pioneered the concept of ‘Integrated Communication’. Marketing Week wrote up this innovation, saying that it would fail. Twenty years on and it is now the norm throughout the communications industry.
Chris completely turned round Bates’ finances, and in 2006 was put on the European board, and later the Worldwide Board of this, the third largest communication group in the world. Roy Langridge, one of London’s top Media men who worked with Chris said, “He used to be very democratic and ask each board member to state their views. Then he would start talking about what appeared to be something completely unconnected. Until you all realised if we fixed what Chris was talking about, everything else would fall into place. He was just too quick for most of the board.”
In late 2006 Ted Bates were bought by Saatchi and Saatchi. Chris felt that the merger was a mis-match between two completely different cultures and was worsened by poor communication, politics and mis- handling. He famously described this as ‘Management by Sellotape’ – but was later proven correct as business streamed out of the new group.
Sabbatical: After 9 months sabbatical, when he learned to fly light aircraft and built a one and a half acre show garden at his house,
Entrepreneur: He joined forces with three partners and set up WMGO (Woollams, Moira, Gaskin, O’Malley) on September 11 2007, with no business. Within two years they had a won a stream of large clients like Virgin, the RAC, the Legal and General, Mercury One-to-One, Norwich Union Healthcare, Fedex, Invesco and Freemans Mail Order.
He continued to pioneer the concept of Integrated Communication – of the first ten people hired two were Direct Marketing specialists, and two were Promotions specialists. With new advertising agencies unable to buy their own media he developed another ‘first’: A joint venture with Chris Ingram of CIA – WM Media was the first of its kind and despite early cynicism, proved very successful. After strengthening the WMGO group offering with the purchase of top Promotions company, LGM, he led the group into a reverse take-over on the stock market – in his spare time!
One year later he retired telling reporters at the time that he was, “Two years past his sell-by date”. David Cavers MD of Norwich Union said, “Chris always made it his job to understand the client business fully. He has a wonderful retention for facts and detail and is a pleasure to work with”.
After a year off he formed The Woollams Outsourcing Company – or TWO, another innovation since copied. It was Britain’s first virtual communications agency. But he found himself working too hard as clients wanted him personally on their business – he helped develop Virgin Active gyms, the Lucky Strike ‘Originals’ business, and worked with Norwich Union, Kettle Chips and Sony amongst others.
After some time, he really wanted to change direction, and spend more time on his passions – fitness and health. So he studied Nutrition, Body Energy and even became qualified as a Personal Fitness Trainer.
The beginning of the charity: CANCERactive
Then, out of the blue, in Spring of 2000, at the age of 22, his daughter Catherine was diagnosed with a glioblastoma and ‘given’ 6 months to live. Since 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 top selling book ‘Everything you need to know to help you beat cancer’, which 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 people 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”.
This has now become a full-time career. But he refuses to be paid for it. All monies from speeches, books and fees are passed straight on to the charity CANCERactive, to fund a quarterly magazine (icon) and a 2000 page web site. Says David Pearson, formally Chief Exec of Sony in the UK, “Chris is a great bloke. He has turned personal adversity into the opportunity to benefit thousands of people.” Geoff Boycott, the former England test cricket who Chris helped when he developed cancer, calls him the ‘Cancer Guru’.
He also runs www.therainbowfoods.com, a programme called ‘Natural Selection Products of Choice’ where his team look at all the supplements available and help people through the confusion to choose the ‘natural compounds with a plus’. “Again, we just wanted to provide something people could really trust”, he adds. All profits go to the charity. He is already planning his next projects, developing 20 acres into an organic farm and ‘Wellness Centre’ called Rainbow Valley near Cha Am in Thailand, and an ‘online discount chemists’ in the UK. He freely admits he is unlikely to ever retire.
He says his weakness is simple: “I don’t suffer fools, stupidity, bullying or people who pronounce and pontificate with no real knowledge of the facts. I like to be well informed before I state a view, and I like those around me to do the same”. He likes people with real personality and his favourite quote is one of George Best’s: “It’s true I’ve spent a lot of money on wine, women and song. But the rest I just frittered away!”.
Chris has spent almost 18 years in Debrett’s People of Today, and has been included in International Who’s Who and was made a Freeman of the City of London in 2008, “An irony really as Catherine went to Freeman’s school in Ashtead, Surrey”, he says.
Family and Social
Chris has three daughters and a son: 1978 – 2004 Catherine Louise
1983 Georgina Clair
1986 Stephanie Marie
1995 Benjamin Henry
He now lives in Hua Hin, Thailand and is married to Amphorn. “I am blessed with a wonderful family, a great collection of friends and a number of talents” Chris Woollams now says. “I did my time in capitalism. Now I’m just putting something back into the World.”
He is Captain of Springfield Golf Club, voted the fourth best Golf resort in Asia by Golf Magazine, and remains a member of the RAC in the UK, and Royal Mougins in France. He is a member of the Confrerie de Tatevin in France, and also skis, sails, fishes and dives.
Chris Woollams Australian Tour Dates Feb/Mar 2014
21st Feb: Adelaide, SA – 2pm
24th Feb: Mt Gambier – 7:30pm
26th Feb: Adelaide – 7:30pm
27th Feb: Colac, VIC – tba
1st Mar: Lowood, QLD – 7pm
2nd Mar: Highfields, QLD – 2pm
3rd Mar: Kingaroy, QLD – 7pm
4th Mar: Sunny Coast – 7:30pm
6th Mar: Warwick – 10:30am
6th Mar: Toowoomba – 7:30pm
7th Mar: Dalby, QLD – 10:30am
7th Mar: Maleny, QLD – 7:30pm
8th Mar: Gympie, QLD – 2:30pm
8th Mar: Maryborough – 7:30pm
9th Mar: Bundaberg, QLD – 3pm
10th Mar: Rockhampton – 7pm
11th Mar: Mackay QLD – 7pm
12th Mar: Airlie Beach – 7pm
13th Mar: Townsville – 7pm
15th Mar: Cairns QLD – 1pm
17th Mar: Canberra- 7:30pm
18th Mar: Sydney – 7:30pm
19th Mar: Newcastle – 7pm
20th Mar: Pt Macquarie – 7pm
23rd Mar: Loganholme – 2pm
24th Mar: Wavell Hts – 7pm
25th Mar: Ballina – 7pm
14th Mar: Casino -7pm
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