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Best books for when you are diagnosed with cancer

20 Jul 2021

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Philip Booth takes a look at what our Wigwam members and Yes to Life team books folks would recommended for someone newly diagnosed with cancer.
We had several books that got repeated recommendations which we include first and then we list the others that got a mention. Do feel free to add comments if you think we’ve missed a book from this ‘top ten’. Coming soon we have ‘Best nutrition or recipe books’ and ‘Best Cancer Journey books’.
We hope you can get these books from your local bookshop – but if not we do like the new online Book Shop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops. See more at:
Overall winner
1. ’The Cancer Whisperer: Finding courage, direction and the unlikely gifts of cancer’ (2015) – by Yes to Life Patron, Sophie Sabbage got the most recommendations.
‘Sophie was diagnosed with late stage ‘incurable’ lung cancer and embarked on an amazing journey of healing. The book covers her relationship with cancer, fear, guilt, her research, diet and more. I particularly loved the idea of ‘cancer whispering’; instead of going to war with cancer we can learn from it and choose our own response to it.’ Philip Booth, Wigwam Coordinator
‘I love this book and have returned to it many times but my friend living with cancer didn’t get on with it at all. It is a hugely personal story but is packed full of thoughtful reflection that I found so powerful in my own journey.’ P.D, Wigwam member
Sophie says: ‘This book is for the cancer patient who wants to remain a dignified, empowered human being even when your doctors and diagnosis are scaring the hell out of you. It is also for the cancer patient who has a hunch that there is something for them to learn, gain or even be transformed by – if they just knew how to relate to this disease differently to the way most of society does. It is for the cancer patient, perhaps any patient.’
It is worth also mentioning Sophie’s other book, ‘Lifeshocks: And how to love them’. In this book she shows how ‘lifeshocks knock on the doors of our pretences and invite us to walk authentically through the world, and that if we recognize this, we can respond to them creatively’.
Next top three recommendations
2. ‘Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds’ (2014) – Dr Kelly A. Turner
Kelly Turner’s research involved travelling to ten different countries to interview fifty holistic healers and twenty radical remission cancer survivors about their healing practices and techniques. Her research continued by interviewing over 100 Radical Remission survivors and studying over 1000 of these cases. Her evidence presents nine common themes that she believes may help even terminal patients turn their lives around. Each of those themes are worth consideration.
1. Radically changing your diet.
2. Taking control of your health.
3. Following your intuition.
4. Using herbs and supplements.
5. Releasing suppressed emotions.
6. Increasing positive emotions.
7. Embracing social support.
8. Deepening your spiritual connection.
9. Having strong reasons for living
“By turning her attention towards the hitherto ignored group dismissed as ’spontaneous remissions’, Kelly Turner has distilled the essence of survivor strategies that have actually worked, often in the face of hopeless odds. The information and stories she has to share make this a handbook for survival and a source of reasonable hope for many who others have encouraged to let theirs slip away” Robin Daly, Chair and Founder, Yes to Life
‘Radical Hope: 10 Key Healing Factors from Exceptional Survivors of Cancer & Other Diseases ‘ is the follow up book by Kelly Turner with Tracy White (2020). In that book she includes exercise/movement as the tenth factor.
For those interested in this topic another book taking a similar approach looking at extraordinary cases of spontaneous remission, is ‘Cured: The Power of Our Immune System and the Mind-Body Connection’ by Dr Jeff Rediger (2020)’. To my mind this complements and adds to the work of Kelly Turner.
3. ‘Anti-Cancer Living: Transform Your Life and Health with the Mix of Six’ (2018) – Lorenzo Cohen and Alison Jefferies
This book has been described as a sequel to ‘Anticancer: A New Way of Life’ by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD (Penguin Books, 2007). Dr. Servan-Schreiber survived a highly lethal glioblastoma of his brain for some 19 years following an anticancer lifestyle. That book was a classic and also received recommendations for this blog. Dr. Servan-Schreiber worked with Dr. Cohen on methods of anticancer living and their impact on cancer. The “mix of six” interventions is based on research;
  • love and social support
  • stress management
  • rest
  • movement
  • nutrition
  • avoiding environmental toxins
‘I loved this book as it is basically low or no cost stuff we need to do. Sometimes it feels easier to take a supplement or go for a treatment but this book is all about the basic areas to which we need to pay attention like exercise, nutrition, stress and sleep.’ Abi, Wigwam member
4. ‘The Cancer Revolution: Integrative Medicine – the Future of Cancer Care: Your Guide to Integrating Complementary and Conventional Medicine’ (2016) – Written by cancer expert Patricia Peat and 37 other highly respected expert contributors from a range of disciplines.
This book is available half price at Yes to Life:
This book acts as a guide to integrating complementary and conventional medicine for the treatment and care of cancer patients and is packed with strategies to improve prospects and quality of life. Sensible, straightforward, with self-help strategies and a host of material available online, this book is a must-read for anyone affected by cancer – whether directly or indirectly.
’As the author writes this book looks at ‘integrating the best that medical science has to offer with a comprehensive, holistic approach that supports your body through whatever treatment you choose’. I found it a great resource to think about other options re treatment abroad and a great overview of juicing, lifestyles, toxin avoidance, nutrition, supplements and finance.’ J.T, Wigwam member
‘So for newly diagnosed – The Cancer Revolution’ Sue De Cesare.
Other recommendations
5. ‘Chris Beat Cancer: A Comprehensive Plan for Healing Naturally’ by Chris Wark (2018)
Chris is a stage 3 colon cancer survivor who opted out of chemotherapy after surgery. He provides the toxin-free diet, lifestyle, and therapy guidelines he used to help himself heal. His strategies include a radical diet where he takes ‘massive action’ to heal plus lifestyle changes; and mental, emotional, and spiritual healing, as well as advanced integrative therapies.
‘I love Chris’s can-do approach and also his regular videos which include in depth inspiring interviews with cancer survivors about their approaches’ Claire T, Wigwam supporter
6. ‘Keep Healthy after Cancer 2020: Lifestyle facts to help you live stronger for longer’ by Professor Robert Thomas (2020)
This is well research, evidence based information from a leading oncologist and lifestyle scientist. This has good information to empower you to make the lifestyle and nutritional choices to improve outcomes and help you keep healthy after cancer.
“Getting lifestyle information and advice from a senior UK oncologist may be exactly what is needed to give someone the confidence to take the first steps beyond the conventional medical thinking that maintains there is nothing a patient can do to improve their prospects” Robin Daly, Chair and Founder of Yes to Life
Prof Thomas has also released a book last year, ‘How to Live: The groundbreaking lifestyle guide to keep you healthy, fit and free of illness’. This is also great for helping with achievable changes to our daily routine – changes that can improve the expression of our genes – helping us beat the odds of cancer and chronic disease.
7. ‘Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment’
by Keith Block and Andrew Weil M.D. (2009)
30 years of experience distilled into this book – based on a profound understanding of how body and mind can work together to defeat disease.
“Dr Keith Block established many of the principles and some of the science behind Integrative Oncology, starting in the 1980’s, and his book Life Over Cancer documents his enormous passion both for science and for the wellbeing of his patients. A deeply satisfying and comprehensive read, it comes across as very contemporary even though it was written almost a decade ago.” Robin Daly.
8. ‘The Metabolic Approach to Cancer: Integrating Deep Nutrition, the Ketogenic Diet and Non-Toxic Bio-Individualized Therapies’ by Nasha Winters and Jess Higgins Kelley (2017)
Research has shown that 95 percent of cancer cases are directly linked to diet and lifestyle. This book offers an innovative, metabolic-focused nutrition protocol. Naturopathic, integrative oncologist and cancer survivor Dr. Nasha Winters and nutrition therapist Jess Higgins Kelley have identified the ten key elements of a person’s -terrain- (think of it as a topographical map of our body) that are crucial to preventing and managing cancer. These ten elements include epigenetics, the microbiome, the immune system, toxin exposures, and blood sugar balance.
‘This woman knows her stuff! It is full of wonderful insights and a wonderful helpful way to view our healing journey – but it is for ‘keto people’ which may not be good for everyone’. J.T, Wigwam member
“Dr Nasha Winters is one one of the great minds pushing the frontiers of Integrative Oncology with a passion that is borne of her personal experience of cancer, and the revelation to her of the power of natural and lifestyle medicine to provide her with a route back to health. Her enormous appetite for knowledge and passion for improving the lot of those with cancer are unforgettable”. Robin Daly, Chair and Founder of Yes to Life
9. ‘The Cancer Survivor’s Companion’ by Dr Frances Goodhart and Lucy Atkins (2012)
This book was winner of the 2012 Best Health Book category in the Guild of Health Writers Awards and looks in depth at cancer survivorship and its emotional fallout.
‘The Cancer Survivor’s Companion aims to help people with the physical, emotional and psychological affects of having had a cancer diagnosis. It is written in a clear and empathetic style and covers: Worries; Depression and low mood; Anger; Self-esteem and body image; Relationships and sex; Fatigue; Sleep; and Relaxation. The writers use real-life examples, easy-to-follow strategies and tips to deal with these issues’. Andrea,
10. ‘How to Starve Cancer’ by Jane McLelland (2018)
Jane discovered that a cancer-starving diet, powerful supplements and some old ‘off-label’ low-toxicity drugs, when taken together, tackled her terminal cancer. This book looks at the ‘fuel pipelines’ you need to block for cancer, so you too can create your own cancer-starving cocktail. An updated version is due out very soon.
‘This approach is complicated and I needed to read the book several times – the more I learn the more it makes sense to me, the more this feels the right way for me. I’ve used the online support groups and now have a Functional Medicine practitioner to help me – but it is not cheap!’ Kathy, Wigwam member
Other content on this website featuring this person or provider:

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