Food Health Lifestyle

If You Have Cancer, Here’s How You Can Take Charge of Your Health and Healing

7 min read

If you or someone you love is faced with a cancer diagnosis, it's important to health and wellness for your mind, body, and the environment. Learn how you can heal yourself from cancer with food and other lifestyle changes.

A cancer diagnosis may mysteriously come out of nowhere. That was true for me when I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer ten years ago, with a 10-20% survival rate.

Now, I’m thriving and healthier than ever, and I’ve learned from my own experience that health and wellness are a function of the mind, the body and the environment. When you want to get well, I believe you have to do everything you can in all three areas, to your best ability. What does that mean?

The Mind

Emotionally there may be issues, some obvious, some hidden. They must be addressed, faced and accepted. You can be eating the healthiest diet and living in the Garden of Eden but if you have serious emotional issues, your cells may get the wrong message and make you sick.

It’s very individual and I don’t have the answer on how to address this for every person. I believe I am a balanced person. But when faced with a third surgery in less than a year for ovarian cancer and not totally at ease with the medical community I had to address everything I possibly could.

I went to visit a friend in Canada who agreed to work with me, for an intense weekend. He used a variety of techniques: neurolinguistic therapy; some earlier life regression; Reiki; and some things I don’t remember the names of. Nothing came out that I wasn’t aware of but I was surprised to find out some things affected me emotionally more than I realized. Once that was addressed I went home feeling lighter and ready to have surgery.

Dr. Bruce Lipton has an audio collection called Wisdom of the Cells that explains how our cells respond to the environment they perceive. It’s brilliant and powerful. We can literally improve our health by changing the perception of our cells. How to do that is the key. I do it with meditation. When I was in treatment I meditated twice a day, morning and evening. I had a specific routine that worked for me. There are many ways to meditate and no one method fits all. I’d be happy to go more into detail about my methods if you are interested.

The Environment

The environment is a tricky one. We can’t control the outdoors unless we move to a cleaner place. And if someone is in a toxic environment, moving may be a necessary solution for survival. The home must also be evaluated.

There are lots of books and articles on the subject to purify the home environment, including choosing natural materials over synthetics and getting the toxic cleaners, air fresheners and other poisons out of the house. There are simple, cheaper, non-toxic alternatives for everything. For example, I clean almost everything with baking soda and vinegar.

Personal care products can also be problematic. I used a lot of tampons as a teenager and young adult and now know they contain dioxin. The family of a woman who had ovarian cancer was recently awarded $72 million from John & Johnson claiming that the talc in their baby powder was the cause.

Reading labels on personal care products is as important as reading the labels on food. I make and effort to use personal care products that are safe enough to eat, made with edible ingredients rather than synthetic ones that may be toxic and/or cancer-causing.

The Body

Exercise is essential for general health and wellness. It’s important to do different kinds of exercise to keep the muscles, bones, heart and all of the body flexible and strong. And variety makes exercise more fun. It doesn’t have to be a lot either – at least 30 minutes every other day is good, making sure you do some quick intervals getting your heart rate up which will help the body manage stress.

curly-kaleMy real passion is food. It is essential to do two things when healing: eliminate any and all toxins that will compromise the body, and supercharge the immune system with the best nutrition possible.

Meat, Fish, Dairy, Eggs, Processed Foods, Refined Flours, Sugar, Hydrogenated Oils, Salt: these are things that can be toxic to the body in some way.

Some of these foods may offer some nutritional benefit but they also can cause problems. When the body is not well I believe it is best to focus all of its attention on healing, not on removing toxins from daily food intake.

It’s critical to maximize the nutrition you can cram into your body to supercharge your cells’ performance. Dr. Fuhrman (, author of Eat to Live) and his diet do that better than any I have come to know about. The base of the diet is leafy, green vegetables, raw, steamed, juiced and blended. Mushrooms are a delicious part of this plan, cooked in water for about 30 minutes, to break their tough cell walls and release the anti-cancer fighting polysaccharides. I call mushrooms natural chemotherapy, without the toxicity and nasty side effects.

In addition to greens and mushrooms, other non-starchy vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, squashes like zucchini and legumes can be eaten with no limit. Whole grains are okay but in small quantities. There is a lot of starch in whole grains and you get less bang out of each calorie nutritionally. Oils are to be avoided. They are processed, have no fiber, are loaded with calories and offer little nutrition. Fat is important but it should come from whole foods, like raw nuts and seeds. Salt should also be avoided. The foundation of this style of eating consists of lots of salads, steamed vegetables, soups, smoothies, vegetable juices and fruits, especially berries. The food is really delicious, once you accept and embrace the concept.

Most people’s taste buds are numb and need sugar, salt and fat to taste their food. In a few weeks eating this clean, nutrient-dense way, the tongue becomes very sensitive and simple foods explode with flavor. This is a joyful way to eat, it’s not a deprivation diet.

Supplements are also important – but the kind matters. I spent about $1000 a month on supplements when going through chemotherapy. I didn’t know if any of them were making a difference but I didn’t want to take a chance. The ones I chose to take were recommended by the Block Center for their demonstrated performance in fighting cancer and prevented nausea from chemotherapy. I had Dr. Fuhrman review the list and we made a few modifications.

I prefer supplements, like concentrated broccoli sprouts for example, which are from food – not something synthetic that is created in a lab. Nutraceuticals that are food-based are best.  There is new information coming out all the time on supplements, nutraceuticals and natural products, like green tea, turmeric, mushroom concentrates that can aid in cancer prevention and reduce risk of recurrence.

green-juiceI cannot say enough about the importance of green juice. This is one of the best ways to cram nutrition and get the valuable nutrients.

My juice varies. I might use 3-6 stalks of celery, 1/2-1 cucumber (with skin if organic), 5-10 dark green leaves with stalks (can be kale, collards, chard), 1/2-1 whole lemon with the skin, 1 to 2 inches of whole, fresh ginger (with skin). Optional: 2-6 carrots, 1/4-1/2 beet, 1/2 bunch of parsley with stems, 1/4-1/2 onion, 1/2 bunch mint, 1 whole apple (with skin if organic).

I also like to take the fiber that is separated from the juice and run it through the juicer 2 or 3 times. You’ll get more juice that way. Broccoli stalks are great too. You can cook the flowery heads separately and juice the stalks, since no one likes to eat the stalks. I include the whole lemon because citrus peel has been shown to have potent anti-cancer effects from flavonoids and the lemon flavor balances out the bitterness of the greens. I love ginger, but the more you add the hotter it will get. Some people like a little onion or raw garlic in their juice, but I don’t.

Many people lament the time it takes to make green juice and clean up afterward. I recommend changing that perspective. Making juice is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself. Smile while you make it knowing you are taking charge of your health and well-being.

And here’s a tip: make enough juice of the week and freeze portions in individual containers. That way you only have to clean up once a week and the gifts are yours waiting for you in the freezer every day.

Many of the wonderful nutrients in the greens are fat soluble so you need to eat a little fat when you eat or drink greens, in juice or salads or whatever. That’s why it’s nice to add a small amount of raw nuts and seeds with the salad. You can munch on a small amount of nuts, like 6 walnut halves when having the juice if you are not having any fat at the same time.

If you really don’t like this kind of juice because it is too bitter, then you can back up and start with a sweeter mix like carrot, apple and ginger and/or lemon. Little by little you can add a leaf or two of kale and get used to the taste. Cucumber and celery are great too and the flavor is very light.

I juiced every day, about 16 ounces during my cancer treatment. I’ve continued with daily green juices ever since. While on vacation, I’ll bring along a green powder like Dr. Ben Kim’s product. For emergency healing, some might consider a juice fast of about 13 green juices a day. The Gerson Institute does just that. They have an information location in San Diego and a fasting center in Mexico. I interviewed the founder’s daughter, Charlotte Gerson, on my radio show.

Drinking clean water is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. I distill my tap water with a water distiller. Some are concerned about distilled water not having minerals. This is not an issue, as we should get our minerals from healthy, whole plant foods. Distilled water can have a pH lower than neutral 7. I am not concerned about that. It’s the foods you eat and how they are digested that determines the pH balance in your body. Meat, dairy and processed foods create an acidic environment where cancer thrives. Healthy plant foods create a neutral or slightly alkaline environment where cancer does not do well.

Whatever you eat, enjoy it. If you are about to eat something that you feel bad about eating or don’t think is healthy, don’t have that dialog with your body. Tell your body to take the good nutrition from the food and let the rest go.

A cancer diagnosis can be frightening. I know, I’ve been there. In addition to finding medical professionals who can treat the disease, it’s important to take responsibility for your own health and wellness. Diet, emotional issues and environment are all things that are within your control to manage to assist in your healing.

This cancer-fighting salad can help strengthen your body’s ability to fight cancer.