How Elissa Goodman Said No to Chemo In Favor Of Natural Cancer Treatment — And Healed

Elissa Goodman is now a holistic nutritionist and author of the book Cancer Hacks, but her life used to look very, very different. In her twenties and early 30’s she was running herself ragged, and she knew that she needed to make big lifestyle changes 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. After her diagnosis, she had no choice but to face it head-on. Read on to hear the incredible story of what happened next, including how she sought an alternative to chemotherapy and explored more natural cancer treatment, and how her experience led to her becoming a holistic nutritionist and lifestyle cleanse expert.

*This is a short clip from our interview with Elissa Goodman. Click here to watch the whole thing.*

You can also listen to an audio version of our interview with Elissa Goodman on The WellBe Podcast. 

Elissa Goodman’s Story: A Lifetime of Sickness, Then A Big Scare

Goodman wasn’t a healthy kid growing up. She had every issue in the book: chicken pox, strep, tonsillitis, mono, shingles, eczema. 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. I didn’t feel good enough,” says Goodman. “So there was that emotional component that was weighing very heavily on me, plus I had the physical component.”

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. “It was scary, really scary,” remembers Goodman. “You think of cancer, you think you might die.”

Seeking an Alternative to Chemotherapy and Other Aggressive Approaches

After her diagnosis, Goodman 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 (meaning the doctors hadn’t yet ascertained how much cancer was in her body and where it was located).

Frightened by these aggressive treatment plans, Goodman reluctantly visited 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 that 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 do to her. “I knew both of those things might take me down,” she says.

Based on her research, she decided to seek a natural alternative to chemotherapy, opting out of that treatment entirely. She did agree to undergoing radiation, but only half of the amount recommended by the doctor. “The doctors were not happy with me, because I just took it into my own hands and I was praying that this was going to work,” says Goodman.

Treating Cancer Naturally through Lifestyle Changes

Of course, Goodman did much more than just pray. Rather than sitting back and hoping that her unorthodox treatment choices would work, she began actively learning about lifestyle-based natural cancer treatment. The wellness scene in Los Angeles was burgeoning at the time (this was in the 90’s), making it the perfect environment for seeking alternate ways to heal. She began juicing, doing yoga, seeing acupuncturists and naturopaths — and, gradually, she began to get better. “The wellness community was here,” she says. “I started diving into all of that, and I healed. Thank God.”

It took about two years of diligently implementing these lifestyle changes for Goodman to heal, but ultimately, her more natural cancer treatment approach worked. After two years, she started to feel stronger and better; her cancer was undetectable; soon, she was fully in remission and pregnant with her first child.

The Role of Emotion and Trauma in Natural Cancer Treatment

Another big part of Goodman’s healing journey was the emotional component. Along with juicing and yoga, she went to therapy to work on her emotional stability. “That part of the equation is huge, and it’s bigger than most people think,” she says.

She explains that, according to research, the memories from our first seven years of life are imprinted permanently in our minds. If any trauma or hurt is lodged in those memories, we carry them around in our subconscious, sometimes completely unaware. This can be a huge issue, because the vast majority of our thoughts occur on a subconscious level, and our thoughts shape our words, our actions, our happiness and stress levels, and our health. 

“We’re barely conscious. Maybe we’re five percent conscious. We have these messages that we keep telling ourselves and our body. We’re on hyper alert,” she says. “That is a huge thing. It permeates through, getting us into a place where we make the wrong decisions for food. We don’t sleep. We’re stressed. We don’t exercise enough. We choose bad relationships.” Goodman explains that you can begin to unpack all of these underlying psychological and emotional components by asking yourself a simple question — Do I love myself? — and using the answer as a jumping off point for addressing repressed emotional issues.

In terms of the emotional/mental component in natural cancer treatment, Goodman also points to the seminal book Radical Remission by Dr. Kelly Turner (a book that’s also cited in Kelly Noonan Gores’s Heal documentary). In the book, Turner unpacks her research on over a thousand people who were able to put their cancer into complete remission only using natural cancer treatment. She identifies nine key factors that contributed to the remission in each case, and seven of the nine factors were related to emotional or mental health. The book was published after Goodman healed her own cancer, and when she read it, the findings matched up with with her own experience. Indeed, understanding the connection between mind and body was something that she found incredibly powerful when it came to treating cancer naturally — and though she built a career around nutrition coaching, juices, and cleansing, she will be the first to tell you that contentment, gratitude, and peace, are the true core of a healing journey. 

Do you know anyone who has (or have you) pursued natural cancer treatment? What approaches did they choose, and what was the outcome? Share with us in the comments below!

Watch the full interview with Goodman to learn how a series of early miscarriages foreshadowed her cancer diagnosis, how her mother’s asthma was the catalyst for seeking natural cancer treatment, which toxins in her home she believe may have contributed to her cancer, why she juices every day and thinks soups are an essential part of cleanses, the deprivation-free cleanse that she prescribes to her clients, the link between animal protein and cancer risk, the tragic and eye-opening story of her husband’s cancer diagnosis 11 years after her own, and much more.

You can also listen to an audio version of our interview with Elissa Goodman on The WellBe Podcast. 

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

Cancer Hacks

How Elissa Goodman Said No to Chemo In Favor Of Natural Cancer Treatment — And Healed

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How Elissa Goodman Said No to Chemo In Favor Of Natural Cancer Treatment — And Healed

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How Elissa Goodman Said No to Chemo In Favor Of Natural Cancer Treatment — And Healed
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  1. Thank you for this interview! After watching my dad who had metastatic lung cancer basically die from the chemo and radiation, I don’t know personally that I would want to go that route either. I love the thought of less stress, healing past traumas and the energy of our food and using those tools to prevent and/or treat cancer or other illnesses.

    1. I’m so sorry about your dad Cindy. 🙁 Yes I love Elissa’s approach because she also improved her life so much once she beat the cancer!

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