Elissa Goodman knew that she needed to make a change in her lifestyle in order to get in control of her mental and physical health. But her real wake-up call came when, at age 32, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “I knew my life wasn’t going in the right direction in a lot of ways, but I didn’t really want to focus on it,” Goodman remembers. But after her diagnosis, she had no choice but to face it head-on. Read on to hear the incredible story of what happened next, and how it led to her becoming a holistic nutritionist and lifestyle cleanse expert.
Goodman wasn’t a healthy kid growing up. She had every issue in the book: chicken pox, strep, tonsillitis, mono, shingles. She also had a low red blood cell count and had to get blood shots every 28 days. At the same time, her family was “extremely type A,” very motivated and successful, which contributed to a chronic sense of stress and inadequacy. “Here I was sort of trying to pick up the pieces behind them and never feeling like I could measure up,” says Goodman.
After college, she spent ten years working in the advertising and marketing industry in New York City, where the fast pace and competitive atmosphere contributed to her stress and sense that she was always behind the eight ball. Perhaps not surprisingly, she was also sick off and on throughout this whole time. When she and her husband got married, she told him they needed to move to Los Angeles, where she hoped the slower lifestyle and better weather would help with her mental and physical health.
That’s when, at age 32, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was a very dramatic, very scary indication that she’d been right: she needed to make some major changes.
She ended up going to three different doctors. The first two suggested an aggressive approach: chemo, radiation, identifying a potential bone marrow donor, and freezing her eggs, even though the cancer hadn’t even been staged yet.
Reluctantly, she went to see a third doctor, a radiologist/oncologist who had been recommended by a friend. At that point, the stage of the cancer had been identified — it was early stage — and this doctor took a much different approach than the first two. As Goodman remembers, he asked “What’s your life like? Are you stressed? Are you happy? Are you living your purpose?”
At this point, Goodman burst into tears. She told the doctor how miserable she was, how her whole life had been playing catch-up, not feeling good enough, constantly stressed, continually living in a fight-or-flight mode.
The doctor listened, and told her that he thought they could take care of the cancer without a bone marrow transplant or freezing her eggs. He did, however, recommend chemo and radiation, but Goodman balked at this. She’d done some research and, given the fact that she hadn’t had children yet and already had a weaker immune system, was scared of what these aggressive treatments would to to her. Ultimately, she refused the chemo and opted to do half of the recommended radiation — and the doctors were not happy with her.
But she didn’t just sit back and hope that her choice would work. She took matters into her own hands and began seeking alternate ways to heal. She tapped into the burgeoning wellness community of LA — she began juicing, doing yoga, seeing acupuncturists and naturopaths, — and, ultimately, she began to heal. Two years later, she was healthy and pregnant with her first child.
Watch the full interview with Goodman to learn about why she juices every day and thinks soups are an essential part of cleanses, hear the tragic and eye-opening story of her husband’s cancer diagnosis 11 years after her own, his very different approach to treating it, and much more.
The recovery story above is anecdotal and specific to this particular individual. Please note that this is not medical advice, and that not all treatments and approaches mentioned will work for everyone.
Elissa Goodman is an author and a certified holistic nutritionist. She graduated from the American University of Complementary Medicine in Los Angeles. You can find more information about her here.