The Commonweal Cancer Help Program (CCHP) is a week-long retreat for people with cancer. Our goal is to help participants live better and, where possible, longer lives. CCHP addresses the unmet needs of people with cancer. These include finding balanced information on choices in healing, mainstream, and complementary therapies; exploring emotional and spiritual dimensions of cancer; discovering that illness can sometimes lead to a richer and fuller life; and experiencing genuine community with others facing a cancer diagnosis.

CCHP offers an integrated program of healing that includes daily group support sessions led by a psychotherapist, massage, yoga, meditation, deep relaxation, symbolic learning through sandtray, exploration of sacred space, and a gourmet, primarily vegetarian diet. Evening sessions, led by Commonweal co-founder Michael Lerner, explore choices in healing, mainstream therapies, integrative therapies, pain and suffering, and death and dying.

Widely considered the premier program of its kind in the United States, CCHP draws participants from across the United States, Canada, and Europe.

After offering more than 210 retreats over three decades, we have learned that the program often has beneficial effects on anxiety, fear, loneliness, helplessness, and other similar states that can accompany cancer. Many participants come to CCHP with questions about next steps in treatment or in living with a serious cancer diagnosis.

In September 2020, we began offering online Cancer Help Program opportunities, which we call SANCTUARY. The feedback has been uniformly excellent. Read a news article about the program here.

Sanctuary is limited to six participants at a time. Our focus is on creating a deeply healing experience. It is a month-long program that meets on Zoom three times a week for 1 ½ hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Sanctuary is typically staffed by a physician with extensive experience counseling people with cancer, a psychotherapist, a yoga teacher, and Arlene Allsman, the CCHP/Sanctuary director and managing director of Commonweal.

The fee for the month-long Sanctuary program is $480. Partial scholarships are available.

For more information or to apply, contact Waz Thomas, our intake coordinator, at 415-868-0970 x316 or

View the CancerChoices website for resources
See the full text of Michael Lerner’s publication: Choices in Healing: Integrating The Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer

Listen to one of the Cancer Help Program-related conversations held by The New School at Commonweal—a conversation between Commonweal Founder Michael Lerner and Integrative Oncologist Donald Abrams.