5 Essential Questions to Ask Before Starting Cancer Treatment

I hear it all the time when cancer survivors ask me about beating cancer without chemotherapy or radiation.

“I didn’t know that there were any other options, so I just followed my doctor’s recommendation.”

Sometimes this comes from caretakers who have already lost their loved ones to cancer or perhaps to the cancer treatment itself.

The 5 questions I discuss today should be pondered by EVERY individual given a cancer diagnosis. It does not matter how old or young, male or female, aggressive cancer or slow-progressing. An informed decision must be made, and these questions will help you make it.

Much Love to the Docs!

If it weren’t for my rule-defying husband, I would have followed my doctor’s recommendation of chemotherapy and radiation, no-questions-asked! Doctors are tremendously knowledgeable about the human body, but I am concerned at the wealth of knowledge that is ignored and suppressed when doctors are trained to treat the body with only patented chemicals.

The influence of the pharmaceutical industry is why American doctors are well versed in treating patients with patented drugs but have little holistic perspective. Using food as medicine is a powerful and effective way to not only prevent but treat cancer- and it sadly ignored in mainstream medicine.

When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t even know there was such an option as “Alternative Cancer Treatment.” There were no “Alternative Cancer Treatment for Dummies” manuals, no highly publicized advertisement for alternative cancer treatments, and no list of doctors in my area who believed that my cancer was treatable without chemo or radiation.

I had no idea of my own power and right to question and disagree with my doctor if a treatment plan didn’t work for me!

Please know that if you are newly diagnosed with cancer, you have CHOICES. Whether it be an integrative, complementary, or a completely alternative approach to your treatment, you are not powerless. Your doctor is there to guide and work with you, not to order and instruct you.

The below questions are designed to get you thinking. If you or a loved one has been newly diagnosed with cancer, I think you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to spend some time pondering these. Pray about them. Educate yourself until knowledge overcomes fear. Then decide what is right for you.


5 Questions to Ask Before Agreeing to Any Cancer Treatment


1. If I didn’t do any treatment for 6-8 weeks, how could my cancer progress? 

After going through initial biopsy and staging procedure, this should be your first question. Find out how your cancer behaves. Learn as much as you can from your doctor and your own research. Don’t focus on the treatment! Learn about the actual cancer.

Whether your cancer is aggressive or indolent, an immediate switch to a diet high in organic, raw juices, salads, and smoothies, and free of all sugars, meats, and processed foods will slow your cancer’s growth and begin to re-build your immune system. Also consider supplements that strengthen the immune system.

As soon as you are diagnosed, there is no time wasting. You will be surprised about how long your doctor will wait to schedule you for your treatment. Testing alone takes WEEKS. From the time I was diagnosed until I was scheduled to begin chemotherapy was 5 weeks. A relative with a more aggressive breast cancer waited 6 weeks to begin treatment.

It has taken years for your cancer to develop to its present condition. You should immediately begin an anti-cancer diet. There is no reason to wait, no matter what treatment you decide on!


2. What are long term side effects and what are the conventional treatment cure rates for my type and stage of cancer?

Following your diagnosis your oncologist will immediately begin to teach you about the schedule of chemotherapy and radiation you will receive for your cancer treatment. Learn about the side effects and decide if they are something you are willing to risk, especially knowing that there could be long term effects AND a greater risk of developing a secondary cancer later.

When you study survival statistics, you have to understand that the survival rates for cancers in the U.S. are marked by a 5 year survival. It doesn’t take account if someone dies the day after their 5-year “cancer-versary” or if they still have cancer. They just have to be “alive” 5 years from diagnosis. It also doesn’t take into account that person’s quality of life during and after treatment. Fellow alternative cancer survivor Chris Wark wrote a great article about this with clinical studies HERE. He dips into why the survival rates listed by the American Cancer Society are greatly generous. For example, for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, one of the most curable cancers with chemotherapy and radiation, the 5-year cure rate according to the American Cancer Society is 84%. According to a large 2004 clinical study, the number is closer to 40%.

You will also want to ask your doctor for the Material Safety Data Sheets for the doctor’s recommended chemotherapy regimen. These will list all chemicals involved and their short and long term side effects.

Also, do not be shy about asking another doctor for their opinion. When I switched to my second oncologist, he actually prescribed a more moderate treatment plan than my first doctor who conferred with MD Anderson Cancer Center on how to treat my rare lymphoma. Even so, I still decided to pursue Bill Henderson’s protocol, a completely holistic approach.


3.  How is the rest of the world treating cancer? How much does my oncologist know about alternative cancer treatment?

Although much of the Asian and European medical world has been influenced by the American pharmaceutical industry, there are many clinics in these areas that are treating patients successfully without chemotherapy or radiation. International doctors are much more likely to view the body in a holistic perspective than American doctors.

Your standard American oncologist probably won’t know much about any treatment except the big three: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. He/she may be aware of clinical trials available, but in most cases there are still side effects and these trials are still pharmaceutical. Long-term side-effects and efficacy aren’t known as well. Your oncologist will not prescribe you an alternative treatment since a “treatment” is not a drug if it lacks FDA approval.

Oncologists are great for teaching you about the behavior of your cancer and monitoring you by blood tests and scans. The amount of radiation from frequent PET and CAT scanning was unsettling for me so after my diagnosing scans, I chose to monitor my cancer with frequent HcG testing and physical examination of the tumor site.

If you decide on an alternative treatment you may find it helpful to have a knowledgeable holistic MD or naturopath to help coach you along the way. One way to do this is to visit your local health foods store and find the free health magazines/ publications. They’re usually near the entrance. Call the natural practitioners listed in there and ask around by explaining your situation. That’s what I did and it led me to a wonderful holistic MD and an open-minded oncologist!


4. What about conventional treatment will guarantee that my cancer won’t come back?

Many supporters of conventional treatment believe that chemotherapy and radiation is the elite cancer cure, but one look at even generous statistics, and you can see that is not the case. It is true that chemotherapy will kill cancer cells in most cases, but it also kills a large amount of healthy cells along with it. Let’s say you do obtain remission with conventional treatment. If you don’t change the underlying habits that led to your cancer in the first place, how are you insuring yourself against the cancer coming back?

Your immune system will be battered during chemotherapy and radiation. It is important to eat as much of an anti-cancer diet while going through conventional treatment to help counter the negative effects. Please know that your oncologist should know any supplements or foods you are eating. There are some foods that can interfere and weaken the effectiveness of chemotherapy.


5. What if the conventional treatment doesn’t work? On the other hand, what if I did alternative treatment and it doesn’t work?

Oh boy, was this one I struggled with. Let’s take my case as an example here.  I had Stage II Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2008, the American Cancer Society stated that I had a 5-year cure rate of 90% with chemotherapy and radiation. 90%!!! It was VERY difficult for my husband to get me on board with NOT doing chemotherapy. What convinced me was this: First of all, the side effects were AWFUL. Heart damage, hair loss, nausea, anxiety, depression, secondary cancers, and infertility.

Also, if for some reason the first round of chemo didn’t work, I would have had to go through another 4-6 months of a different chemo. If that didn’t work, then I would have to go through a stem-cell transplant. After that, my only hope would be a clinical trial or a last minute attempt at an alternative treatment.

I chose to pursue alternative protocols FIRST. It is much more difficult to do it the other way around after your immune system has been taxed by chemotherapy and radiation, sometimes multiple times. My biggest worry was “what if the cancer gets worst and is much more difficult to treat?” With close monitoring, this is not a problem. Have a cooperative oncologist keep an eye on the size of the tumors and any tumor marker tests or blood tests that can show progress. Consider HcG testing.

As long as you are proactive with an anti-cancer diet, your condition should not drastically worsen in 4-6 weeks, the amount of time most alternative protocols take to show progress. The more aggressive the cancer, the more intense the protocol needs to be from the start.  Like I said before, learn about the behavior of your cancer to weigh this decision. Consult with more than one doctor.

Remember that the goal with alternative therapies is to build the immune system and holistic health of the person, not to rid the body of tumors. Tumors are symptoms of a deeper problem. Rejuvenating and supporting the self-healing process will help your body rid itself of cancer without using toxic chemicals. If for some reason the initial alternative protocols do not work, you can change or add additional protocols. There are hundreds out there. Check out my suggested books on the right side of this page for comprehensive overviews of these treatments and which cancers they are best for.


Research, Research, Research

Do your RESEARCH! Have an advocate work with you. The amount of information you will learn in those first few visits to your doctor will be daunting.

You should also ask for permission to Audio Record your cancer decision conversations with your doctor. We did, and every doctor we asked said “yes.” My husband recorded on his cell phone with ease. There were many times, even some recent that I have gone back and listened to those recordings. Cancer can put us into a mental fog and we don’t always hear everything the doctor says.

If you have a friend or family member who has been recently diagnosed, send them this. It is VITAL that we as patients are well-informed and make decisions out of knowledge and peace- NOT out of fear.


19 thoughts on “5 Essential Questions to Ask Before Starting Cancer Treatment

  1. Hi Cortney. What a great post. Thanks so much. I wondered about the HCG testing. Did your oncologist order this test? This is the same test that Chris Beat Cancer told me I should get. It appears that you send in your own sample, and they send you the results, correct? Do you know if all kinds of cancers show up with an abnormal test, or if it is just specific for certain cancers?

    I followed the Better Way Health link for the Beta 1-3D Glucan, and it didn’t go anywhere. Do you still order your Veta 1-3D Glucan there? Also, how much Vitamin C do you take and where do you purchase it?

    Thanks so much for all of this useful information. Pam

  2. Thanks so much Cortney. I’m going to order the Beta Glucan. I agree about the scans. I would much rather do the urine testing. Do you know if it works for all cancers, and can you send in your own samples and then they respond with the readings? Thanks1 Pam

  3. Yes- you make your own samples with morning urine, acetone, alcohol, and a coffee filter. Haven’t done one in several months so I’m naming this off the top of my head. Check out the link I gave you above to read the directions of “How to prepare the sample.”

    Dr. Navarro’s website explains the process. I believe it detects a general idea of cancer growth for all cancers. It is to be used in conjunction with wellness monitoring and physical exams if the tumor is palpable.

  4. Thank you for this post. It answers a great deal of questions and self-doubt I have circling around my head before my Dr’s appointment. Now I feel more empowered and in control of this thing!

  5. If one hears of a person, for instance a person who works in the same place, that has been diagnosed with cancer, how does one bring to their knowledge that natural treatments exist ?

    The person hasn’t said anything, but it is known that the person is about to start conventional treatment. How to help without intruding ?


    • I would just say something like “Hey- I wanted to send something your way that might be helpful. There is a girl who did alternative treatment to beat her cancer, and she has a great website on how she did it. It may be worth checking out.” Keep it casual and put the ball in their court. (: That’s how I always approach it, because I have learned over the years that people are usually private about their cancer decisions, but you never know what they’ll look into at home. A lot of the time they have no clue that alternatives are even an option.

  6. Hi,
    Do you know of anyone who received a 0 result on the Navarro test ?
    (Someone who does not have cancer).
    Thank you

  7. I really appreciate your helpful & resourceful action tips for a cancer diagnosis. All to often people just panic and find themselves in a medical web of chemo & radiation where they have lost the keys to their own health. As a Health Coach I always encourage my clients to ask questions, take notes, get answers, speak up, get 2nd opinions, and advocate for themselves. I am bookmarking your tips for future reference.
    Thank you and congratulations on seeking and finding a path that suited you and is healing you.

  8. Thank you! Just diagnosed with b-cell lymphoma and in a fog, but certain I don’t want chemo or radiation. GREAT advice I will use

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