5 Books to Read When You Have Cancer

Do you, or someone you know, have cancer?  If so, and you are looking for hope, inspiration, and a way to take control, here are my top 5 books to read when you have cancer.

Do you, or someone you know, have cancer?  If so, and you are looking for hope, here are my top 5 books to read when you have cancer.

I am a reader and a researcher.  As a child, I was an avid reader, and that trait carried right on into adulthood for me.  My husband and I recently attended a new Bible study.  During introductions, as a way to learn something new about everyone, we went around and filled in the blank for “My name is ______, and I would rather be ______.”  The first thought that came to my mind was – I would rather be reading.

I am also a researcher and much of my reading revolves around personal research.  Anxiety has been a struggle for me for most of my life.  My anxiety tends to revolve around things that are uncertain and things that I cannot control.  Over the years, though, I have learned that information and knowledge about scary situations can help empower me and lessen the anxiety.

If I feel like I have a good understanding (of all sides and angles) of what I am facing, I feel more in control, which helps calm me.  When I’m facing uncertainty, part of the fear comes from the lack of personal answers to all of the questions I have.  Reading and researching – gaining knowledge – can help me answer many of the questions I have for myself, therefore, calming the fear of uncertainty and giving me power over the situation.

So, it should come as no surprise that when I was diagnosed with cancer, I immediately began reading everything I could get my hands on about cancer and healing.  I wanted to know everything I could about the disease I was facing and how to stay healthy long term.

It has only been about 7 months since my diagnosis, but I have read so many books on the subject already.  A number of them have really stuck with me, and so I wanted to share some of my favorites.  If you have cancer and are in need of some inspiration, I think these are a great place to start.

I am still devouring books on the subject and currently have around 10 books on my shelf waiting to be read, as well as over 50 (!!) on my “to-read” list.  There are so many books on cancer and healing out there, that I am sure this list will change and evolve over time.

But for now, here are my top 5 books to read when you have cancer.

Books to Read When You Have Cancer

(This post contains affiliate links.  To see my full disclosure, go here.)

1. Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds and Radical Hope: 10 Key Healing Factors from Exceptional Survivors of Cancer & Other Diseases by Kelly A. Turner

Radical Hope was one of the first books that I read after I was diagnosed.  It was recommended by a friend who is currently treating stage 4 breast cancer, and it is an amazing book full of inspiration and hope.

Radical Remission was published in 2015 and goes over 9 lifestyle factors that may lead to radical healing from cancer, even in the face of dire odds.  Prior to writing Radical Remission, Kelly Turner spent 10 months traveling around the world interviewing holistic healers and radical remission survivors about their healing practices and techniques.  She interviewed over 100 radical remission survivors and studied 1000+ radical remission cases.  In this book, she presents 9 common themes that she found among all survivors.

Radical Hope was published in 2020 and is based on the same premise as Radical Remission.  In Radical Hope, Kelly Turner continues to share stories of survivors and has added a 10th lifestyle factor to the original 9 from the first book.

These two books are great for anyone searching for hope and light amidst the darkness.  And they are a great way to help you start taking back control in the face of this disease.

2. Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin

This was one of the books I read, while laying in bed recovering from my hysterectomy.  

As I stated earlier, I have been plagued by anxiety for most of my life.  Shortly after I was diagnosed, I had a gut feeling that my anxiety had played a large part in my developing cancer.  It certainly wasn’t the only factor, however, I just had (still have) this strong sense that I needed to get the anxiety under control and shift my overall mindset.  I am a big believer in the mind/body connection, which is what drew me to this book.

After the conventional medicine in which she was trained failed to help solve her health problems, Lissa Rankin, MD, began to explore the body’s innate ability to self-repair, as well as how we can control these abilities with the power of our mind.  She presents an extraordinary amount of scientific data that proves that things like depression, fear, anger, anxiety, etc. damage that body and lead to disease, while gratitude, meditation, strong social connections, and authentic self-expression can turn on the body’s self-healing mechanisms.

This is a fascinating book full of hope, as well as a way to gain some control over a situation that likely feels very out of your control.

3. Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie Siegel

Similar to Mind Over Medicine, this is one that explores the mind/body connection with a focus on love.  

Although originally published in 1986, the information in this book will never lose value.  It is one of the few classics among the ever changing cancer literature, whose information is timeless.  Bernie Siegel believes that unconditional love is the greatest stimulant of the immune system.  He felt that wielding his scalpel as a surgeon would only help to buy cancer patients time.  The true healing came from a patients self-love and determination.  In 1978, he started ECaP (Exceptional Cancer Patients), a type of individual and group therapy that facilitated patients personal awareness, change, and healing.

This book is full of stories of how a person’s mind can influence their healing journey.  Once again, it is a great book to help give you a sense of control over your own destiny.  

*Side note: At church this past Sunday, I about fell out of the pew when one of our pastor’s mentioned that she had worked with Bernie Siegel and his therapy groups during a testimony!

4. Cancer: Improving Your Odds: A Science-Based Approach to Naturally Preventing and Treating Cancer by John Herron

If you are wanting to supplement your conventional treatment with natural methods, looking to help prevent recurrence, or simply just wanting to improve your health, this book will give you a great start.

A melanoma survivor himself, John Herron goes through many of the holistic healing methods available and uses numerous scientific studies to back up the claims of each.  The entire focus of the book is on ways for you to “improve your odds” when it comes to cancer.  With a focus on supplements, he also briefly touches on diet, detoxification, sleep, and natural treatment hoaxes.  

I love how Herron uses so much scientifically backed data in this book, but presents it in easy to read language that is very accessible.  It is very in depth and will give anyone a fantastic start in the world of natural (and adjuvant) treatment.  I find myself referring to this book frequently.

5. Naturopathic Oncology: An Encyclopedic Guide for Patients & Physicians by Neil McKinney

Finally, anyone who has any interest whatsoever in holistic treatment needs to have a copy of this book.  It is packed full of practical, useful information on all aspects of cancer care. 

*The one pictured is the third edition. I have the fourth edition, which is the newest edition (blue cover).

McKinney goes through the entire repertory of natural medicines and drugs and how they apply to all cancer types.  The nature of cancer, as well as fundamental concepts, such as metabolic solutions, cancer stem cell management, epigenetic control over genes, and immune activation, are all explained.  Diet, supplementation, botanics, mind-body and drug protocols are described, with plenty of research references to back it all up.  How to use integrative medicine to support standard of care – chemotherapy, surgery, immunotherapy – is also discussed.  Suggested alternative protocols are given for every cancer type.

This is another one that I keep handy and reach for often for reference.  It is a bit pricey, but totally worth it, in my opinion.  

What’s Your Favorite?

So, there you have it.  Those are my current top 5 books to read when you have cancer.  As stated earlier, this list is subject to change as I have an outrageously long “to-read” list that I am working my way through.  

I’d love to know what your favorites are!  Anything that I should add to my list?


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Do you, or someone you know, have cancer?  If so, and you are looking for hope, here are my top 5 books to read when you have cancer.


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