New Canaanite Doris Sokosh was on her death bed. That's what her doctors, family and friends said.
The year was 1972 and Sokosh was 38 years old. Her doctor, who had diagnosed her with terminal breast cancer one year earlier, gently told her that there was nothing more he could do.
That year Sokosh had endured radical surgeries to remover her breast and uterus. She underwent some radiation, but never chemotherapy -- her doctors said she was too terminal to treat with chemo.
Doris also had skin grafts, leaving her leg looking like patchwork after several attempts to relocate skin from there to her chest.
"The skin was unreal, the way they took the skin from my leg and it would burn and at the same time my chest would bleed and it was in such pain," Sokosh said. "I lived on just simple pills that helped the pain."
In the following months, Sokosh's weight dropped from her usual 135 pounds to 80 pounds. She became so weak that she was unable to walk, speak or recognize loved ones.
"I couldn't swallow; I couldn't urinate," she said. "It showed that the whole body was closing down."
Norma Forcellina, Sokosh's sister, remembers Sokosh as fragile as glass.
"She couldn't move; you couldn't touch her," Forcellina said. "And she wouldn't eat. All she wanted was coffee -- coffee and her pain pills."
As her family made funeral arrangements and prepared their goodbyes, Sokosh's husband made a last attempt to nurse his wife back to health. He had found out about the just-formed Foundation for Advancement in Cancer Therapy, a nonprofit dedicated to providing information to the public promoting the use of nutrition and detoxification-based methods to treat cancer, rather than chemotherapy, radiation and other techniques that can harm the body as they help to heal it.
Following the FACT school of thought, Sokosh's husband began to nourish her with carrot, apple and celery juices.
"He handed me a small juice glass [full of] carrot juice with a straw and he made me drink it," Sokosh said of her husband, who is now deceased. "After a month of the juices, I realized what was around me. My eyes got stronger. I was putting on a pound a week. Sleeping pills, tranquilizers, pain pills -- in one month's time I was off them all and I was on the carrot juice. ... It took two years before [my] body could handle doing my normal routine, but my cleansing and my diet is the reason I'm here today."
In "Rethinking Cancer," a documentary on her dedication to FACT, the program's co-founder, Ruth Sackman, who died in 2008 at age 93, explains the program principle this way: "A healthy body with a healthy immune system will automatically reject any foreign materials, [like cancer], in the body's system."
Sackman's work in alternative therapies began when her daughter Arlene was diagnosed with acute leukemia. One year after her diagnosis, Arlene died after undergoing traditional chemotherapy. The loss set Sackman on a lifelong quest to find alternative methods to treat cancer.
In 1971, the same year Sokosh was diagnosed with cancer, Sackman and her husband Leon co-founded FACT from their home in New York. Though Sackman was never medically trained, she worked with thousands of cancer patients and investigated and consulted with hundreds of practitioners and medical clinics around the globe.
Sackman's non-toxic, biological therapies have helped numerous men and women overcome serious illnesses like cancer and Lyme disease.
Sokosh quickly became one of Sackman's first and most successful survivor stories. One year after sticking to a strict all-natural diet and detoxification, Sokosh said she tested negative for cancer. Now, 37 years later, Sokosh is healthy and remains cancer-free.
"When I first told my doctors, they couldn't believe I was still alive," she said. "[They] said to me, you should have died five years ago. I can't believe you're still here. ... One of the doctors had been diagnosed with cancer and saw me and was asking for information for himself about the [FACT] program."
Sokosh attributes her new-found health to her supportive family and friends, her faith and the nourishment of her diet. She is not alone in her praise of this alternative healing program. Michal Ginach, a cancer survivor, mother and practicing psychotherapist of Riverdale, N.Y., also attributes her winning battle with cancer to the FACT program.
Ginach, who participated in the Sackman's documentary, describes her journey to recovery.
"It's not an esoteric belief that makes no sense. I think it makes deep sense. At the time, I didn't talk to anybody else. I didn't want scientific proof for [FACT treatments]. ... It didn't interest me, [because] it made sense to me. It just made sense that this body has the wisdom to heal itself and all I need to do is help it. ... And all you need to do is bring [the body] to a place where it can do the healing that is knows how to do better than any doctors and any human. We don't have the wisdom of the body."
Recently, Sokosh penned "Triumph Over Cancer Cookbook," a compilation of her own recipes based on the nourishment plan she said helped deplete her body of cancer. Sokosh said the book targets cancer patients, people interested in cancer prevention and people who want to achieve a healthy, all-natural diet.
The book was born during a dinner Sokosh hosted for Sackman at her home in New Canaan.
"[Sackman] loved the meal and she knew I enjoyed cooking so she told me I had to do this and she really encouraged me all the way through," Sokosh said.
"Triumph Over Cancer Cookbook" contains bio-repair recipes like bean soup with barley and preparation techniques Sokosh discovered when she regained her strength and was able to cook for herself. Sokosh said she expects the book will publish soon.
Putting "the good" into your body, like natural foods and juices, and keeping out "the bad," like stress and foods with additives, is the best way to help your body fend off disease, Sokosh said.
"If you told [Sackman] you were worried, she would always say, `Let the body do what it has to do. Don't worry -- worry is the worst thing. I know it's hard, but don't do it. Just do as I'm telling you,'" Sokosh said. "And I did and I'm still here."
To learn more about FACT, visit: www.rethinkingcancer.org