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The “C” Word

A cancer diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence!

By Martin Raj and Debbie Paul

Rebekah—a young wife with children—was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and was given only six months to live. Can you imagine a young mother receiving such a diagnosis? The news created a lot of fear and uncertainty for Rebekah and her family.

Rebekah was encouraged to give a residential lifestyle intervention program a try. She chose the Hartland Lifestyle Center, which emphasized a whole-food, plant-based diet, natural therapies, exercise, and other important lifestyle components, including spiritual and emotional support. The program gave her the education, experience, and encouragement to adopt a better lifestyle and sustain it. Recently—26 years later—she came back to the Hartland Lifestyle Center for a week of rejuvenation and relaxation!

The Fearful Cancer Diagnosis 

Many others, like Rebekah, face the fearful reality of a cancer diagnosis with questions hard to answer: What should I do? What are my options? Do I have a choice? What does my future hold? Where is God in this? 

Hearing the words “You only have 6 months to live” from a doctor can sound like a death sentence. It creates an overwhelming fear in individuals who feel that their lives have been doomed without any future. In fact, studies about people’s fears in regard to cancer show that “a third to half the general population in the United States and United Kingdom say they fear cancer more than any other disease. Population‐based studies have consistently shown that about a quarter to half the population worry to some extent about getting cancer, with 5%–10% experiencing extreme worry.”1

The truth is that there is hope for both preventing and treating cancer. A cancer diagnosis need not be the end of your storyMore than 16.9 million Americans with a history of invasive cancer were alive on January 1, 2019, most of whom were diagnosed many years ago and have no current evidence of the disease.2  

Cancer and Lifestyle Intervention

According to 2021 statistics presented by the American Cancer Society, 42 percent of newly diagnosed cancers in the United States are potentially avoidable, including 19 percent of cancers caused by smoking and at least 18 percent caused by a combination of excess body weight, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity. In fact, 90 to 95 percent of cancers are directly connected to environment and lifestyle choices—which can be changed!3

More than 90 percent of cancers are directly connected to environment and lifestyle choices—which can be changed! 

At our Hartland Cancer Care program, we help you address the lifestyle changes needed to support your body’s natural ability to fight cancer. Most guests experience a significant improvement in quality of life as they continue to implement the changes they have learned about during the program. Like Rebekah, many are not only surviving but thriving as a result of our program. 

In the midst of all her challenges, Rebekah also found hope and faith in the loving arms of a God that is in control, even when we don’t see the future. She lives out the truth of these words written by Nazi prison camp survivor and author Corrie Ten Boom: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Rebekah’s determination and consistency in a healthy lifestyle, coupled with her faith and positive attitude, helped her to overcome cancer and be an amazing encouragement for others. She always shines with a gentle smile, telling others how good God is. 

If you or someone you love are seeking support for a cancer diagnosis, we at Hartland Cancer Care want you to know that you are not alone in this phase. We are here to offer education, encouragement, and support with our natural therapies for achieving the best quality of life possible—just as Rebekah has.

For further study, see the following resource: Fighting Disease with Food


  1. Vrinten, et al., “What Do People Fear About Cancer?Psycho-Oncology, Vol. 26(8), 2017.

  2. American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures 2021, Atlanta: American Cancer Society, 2021.

  3. P. Anand, et al., “Cancer Is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes,” Pharm Res, Vol. 25(9), 2008.

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About the authors

Martin Raj and Debbie Paul are both staff members at Hartland Lifestyle Center.