Our mission is to reduce suffering and support healing and resilience among people with cancer.
We help people make skillful choices in conventional care, complementary care, and self care. And we contribute to raising the legitimacy of whole-person, integrative cancer care among medical professionals and people affected by cancer.
We create a healing space for people to come together to learn about hope, community, healing, and new priorities in life within the context of cancer.
We describe the landscape of cancer care and the wide variety of options that can be integrated to promote healing.
We evaluate and summarize evidence to help people assess their cancer care options. This allows people to skillfully integrate self care and complementary care with conventional cancer care.
Grounded in a balanced approach, we do not recommend or endorse therapies or practitioners. At CancerChoices, we’re not promoting anything except informed choice—something we believe every person with cancer deserves to have.
Built on experience and trust
As a program of the nonprofit Commonweal, CancerChoices is an independent voice, dedicated solely to providing unbiased information to support people with cancer to live as well as possible for as long as possible.
- We receive no funding from manufacturers or retailers of complementary therapies.
- We investigate cancer therapies and practices by relying heavily on peer-reviewed studies and reviews in medical journals.
- Many advisors and other integrative oncology experts provide expertise on our content.
History of Commonweal and CancerChoices
Michael Lerner, co-founder of Commonweal and CancerChoices, travels in the US, Europe, Mexico, and Japan exploring integrative cancer therapies while on a MacArthur Prize Fellowship.
Michael joins Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, and Waz Thomas to found the Commonweal Cancer Help Program, a week-long residential retreat for people with cancer. Michael continues to lead these intimate retreats to this day.
With Toby Symington, Michael initiates a series of Symington Foundation Conferences on New Directions in Cancer Care. These conferences annually convened the pioneers in integrative cancer care for over a decade.
The Office of Technology of the US Congress publishes Unconventional Cancer Treatments; Michael Lerner serves as principal consultant.
The Commonweal Cancer Help Program is featured in the final episode of Bill Moyers’s Healing and the Mind, inspiring the creation of new retreats for people with cancer. Over the years, these have included Callanish in Vancouver, British Columbia, Harmony Hill in Washington State, Revadim in Jerusalem, and Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC.
Michael writes Choices In Healing: Integrating The Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer, published by MIT Press. This is the first book on integrativein cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care that was favorably reviewed by major medical journals as well as the public.
With Barbara Smith Coleman and Shanti Norris, Michael co-founds Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, a center for healing for people with cancer in Washington, DC.
Building on this foundation, Commonweal’s programming and contributions on cancer care topics have grown, reaching people around the world. A whole set of programs have developed at Commonweal, inspired by or aligned with the Cancer Help Program.
Commonweal’s Collaborative on Health and the Environment plays a major role by contributing scientific advice to the President’s Cancer Panel for its annual report, Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now in 2008 and 2009. A Symington Foundation Conference on New Directions in Cancer Care is held again at Commonweal.
Symington Conferences on New Directions in Cancer Care convene the leaders in integrative cancer care for both private and public gatherings.
Michael partners with Lucy Waletzky, MD, to launch Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies as a website with carefully curated information about complementary cancer therapies and integrative cancer care.
Commonweal launches Sanctuary, the online version of its Cancer Help Program, led by Arlene Allsman.
In partnership with Lucy Waletzky, MD, and the Scheidel Foundation, with visionary leadership from Miki Scheidel, Commonweal launches CancerChoices as a complete re-envisioning of Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies. Expanded in scope, more rigorous in research, and more accessible for people with cancer, this site brings information about integrative cancer care to more people.
Commonweal cancer-related programs
Commonweal has more than 40 programs dedicated to healing in its many forms. Programs with a special interest in cancer include these.
CancerChoices—this website. Launched in 2018 initially as Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies, this site was rebranded in 2021 as CancerChoices.
The Commonweal Cancer Help Program is an intensive week-long residential retreat for people with cancer and their significant others with a goal to help you discover how to live as well as possible for as long as possible.
Bay Area Young Survivors and the Mets in the City retreats: 3-day retreats for women under 45 with non-metastatic and metastatic cancer.
The New School at Commonweal: Conversations with thought leaders of our time, including podcasts and videos related to cancer and healing.