Healing with Care and Community


January 8, 2024

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We recently completed our 221st Commonweal Cancer Help Program (CCHP). It was a beauty. Due to COVID-19 we have a shorter waiting list now. So we strongly encourage CCHP alumni who’d like to come back to return—and equally warmly welcome newbies as well.

It is impossible to describe what happens in the CCHP. Essentially, most people find a deeper connection to the roots of their own resilience. Many find greater strength, clarity, and purpose in their lives.

The CCHP is the greatest work I have ever been given to do. It is soul work. The power of love as a healing force is nowhere more evident than in these week-long retreats at the edge of the Pacific. So please do come—or come back.

Our website is also thriving, with more than 53,000 visitors in the last year. We’re simply the best source of deep information on integrative cancer choices on the web. This year we added: ten new reviews of complementary therapies; three new stories from cancer survivors; two updated and expanded cancer handbooks on breast cancer and prostate cancer; and two updated and expanded handbooks on managing pain and hot flashes.

At CancerChoices, we often link people with cancer to medical advocates trained by Mark Renneker, MD, who literally invented one of the best training programs for medical advocates. A true medical advocate understands mainstream oncology in some depth, knows how to do literature reviews, listens deeply to what the client wants, and has the skills to help them find it. Sadly, these gifted integrative oncology medical advocates are rare. It is a field that cries out for development. It is one of the things we hope to support through CancerChoices.

The tragic truth is that for all the billions of dollars that go into cancer research and conventional cancer treatments, very few people have access to the navigational skills to integrate the best of conventional and integrative therapies. These skills reliably improve choices in conventional and integrative treatments, improve quality of life, reduce suffering, and help people find more meaning in these great life transitions. 

We are trying now to discover how to weave all our cancer offerings into a single powerful pattern that enables people to find what they need as readily as possible. Those offerings include the Cancer Help Program, CancerChoices, the Healing Circles Global cancer circles, our retreats for young Bay Area breast cancer survivors, and the deep work of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment on why cancer is pandemic around the world today. The New School library is a vast archive of dozens of conversations about integrative cancer care, many co-presented with CancerChoices and Healing Circles. This year, for example, our conversation with Radical Remissions founder Kelly Turner has been watched or listened to almost 13,000 times (see all of the CancerChoices videos on their website ( The collective CancerChoices/New School conversation playlists were watched or listened to more than 24,000 times this year alone.

For a certain kind of person, there are few resources that rival Commonweal in terms of what we offer to help navigate a cancer diagnosis. We are there for people who think for themselves, who have a sense of agency, who believe integral approaches to cancer are fundamentally better, who understand what we offer and who believe it may help them.

This note would not be complete without my expression of my deepest gratitude to all of you who have supported our cancer work. I offer my fervent hope that you will continue to do so or—if you have not yet contributed—that you join us in making our continuing cancer work possible.

—Michael Lerner, Co-founder, Board Chair, Commonweal / Co-founder, Cancer Help Program •

The New School at Commonweal’s CancerChoices podcast playlist

Collaborative for Health and the Environment cancer resources

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