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44 Years Cancer-Free After Being Given Just 6 Months to Live with Lung Cancer – Carl Helvie’s Story

Updated: Apr 15, 2022

Carl Helvie was diagnosed with lung cancer 44 years ago and given just 6 months to live. Not only did he beat cancer, but he is now empowering others with information to help them on their own healing journeys.

Carl Helvie was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1974 and given just 6 months to live - IF he treated his cancer with surgery and chemotherapy. As a registered nurse with two masters’ degrees and a doctorate in public health, Carl knew that he would need to address multiple aspects of his life in order to heal. With this knowledge, as well as a lot of prayer and meditation, Carl decided to use a natural, holistic approach to try and cure his cancer rather than extending his life by a mere six months with chemotherapy and surgery. His logic was that he wasn’t feeling bad when he was diagnosed, so if he was going to die, he certainly didn’t want to be debilitated by chemotherapy during his final six months of life.

Instead of dying, Carl spent over two years working with an alternative medicine practitioner to fully heal his body and has remained cancer-free ever since, living healthily for another 44 years to date. His cure consisted of a combination of nutrition, exercise and mental/spiritual interventions.


Carl’s alternative doctor prescribed many natural, non-invasive physical interventions, including but not limited to:

  • A vegan diet consisting of 75% mostly raw fruits and vegetables, nuts (except peanuts) and some grains

  • Laetrile (Vitamin B17) and apricot kernels

  • Zinc

  • Pancreatic enzymes

  • High dose Vitamin A


Carl stresses the importance of exercise as research indicates daily exercise will reduce cancer risk by 50%.


Carl added his own regimen of mental and spiritual interventions, which he says were just as important for his lung cancer recovery as the dietary changes and supplements prescribed by his alternative doctor.

  • Positivity: Carl worked hard to not only change all his negative thoughts to positive ones, but also to make others around him more positive so they wouldn’t influence him negatively.

  • Faith: Carl has a very strong faith in God. In fact, his diagnosis was a result of a dream telling him to go for a chest x-ray, which he believes was God’s way of guiding him. Carl took comfort in God being with him and looking over him.

  • Purpose / Helping Others: Since Carl’s alternative cancer treatments caused no pain or side effects, he continued teaching as a university faculty member, working with students, writing and doing research. This kept him very busy, and he had little time to wallow in his disease. Today Carl recommends helping others as another intervention to keep us healthy, because it provides a sense of purpose and joy while distracting us from negative thoughts.

  • Emotional Support: While initially Carl’s family, friends and colleagues expressed doubt about his decision to forego surgery and chemotherapy, they did provide him with emotional support during and after his two-years of recovery. Emotional support from those around him was so important to remain positive, optimistic and not allow fear to creep into his thoughts.

  • Meditation: Carl mediated daily during his cancer recovery and still meditates to this day. According to Carl, there is research to support patients who meditate have 31% lower stress symptoms, and 67% fewer mood disturbances

  • Visualization: Visualizing himself being well and healthy had profound effects on Carl’s mind-body connection and also aided in improving his immune function.

Carl sees fear of anything as the opposite of faith. During his cancer experience, his optimism far outweighed any possibility of succumbing to the disease. 44 years later, he says he has never even thought about a recurrence, because his faith and optimism are so strong.

Giving Back

Although Carl is partial to alternative & holistic cancer treatments, he supports any decision a patient makes about their own treatment. He does stress the importance of researching ALL treatment options and allowing the cancer patient to choose the one that is right for him/her. Part of healing is taking back control of one’s health, and making your own decision about cancer treatment is the first step in this process.

In order to help others, Carl established The Carl O. Helvie Holistic Cancer Foundation to educate people on alternative cancer treatments. This gives people with cancer the opportunity to pause and research all their options, as well as short and long-term side effects, before leaping into any particular approach.

When going through cancer, Carl says there is ALWAYS hope, despite what your well-meaning doctor may say. It is important to remember that decisions about your life are yours. His recommendation is to “ask your doctor for all of the information you need to make decisions about care... [Then] collect as many health care helpers as you need to implement the plan, but you should remain the captain of the team who makes the major decisions.”

Additional information on Carl’s story and his foundation can be found at The Carl O. Helvie Holistic Cancer Foundation ( and in his books:


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