Work With Me – The Cancer Doula

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What is a Cancer Doula?

Finding out that you have cancer is life-changing. Finding out what your path ahead will be can be terrifying. Having to deal with the medical system, the Cancer Centre, the diagnostic tests, the specialists, the surgery and possible hospital stays – it can be overwhelming. It’s easy to feel crushed, paralyzed and powerless in the face of all the changes and uncertainty. You can take back some of your power by realizing that you have a voice in the process. You are NOT a hapless victim. You are strong, and informed and part of the decision-making process.

If you are looking for someone who gets that, I’m your girl! I have the knowledge and background of a Registered Dietitian and Primal Health Coach, a deep knowledge and personal experience with low carb and keto lifestyle, a lifetime of working in the medical establishment, and most of all, a recent journey through cancer treatment with Stage 1 Ovarian Cancer. Two surgeries, several mis-diagnosis episodes, referral to regional cancer centre and six rounds of chemo.

Through it all, I relied on my inner geek to keep me up to date with the research and recommendations around cancer metabolism and the exciting treatment frontiers that this new understanding allows. The most powerful and the most accessible way to impact metabolism is how we fuel our bodies.

Since heading down this new path of using a ketogenic diet and targeted fasting to impact on the cancer process and cancer treatment side effects, I have struggled with how to work with people to support them in using these interventions and in traveling the cancer journey in all its aspects – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Being a Registered Dietitian involves having a licensing body – in my case, provincial. I am allowed to practice as an RD in the other provinces that have a reciprocal arrangement with Ontario, but not all provinces do. And I have no jurisdiction in other countries unless I try to obtain my license there. A process that is long, involved, and prohibitively expensive.

So, how do I explain or describe what I want to do? It’s not just medical nutritional therapy (MNT), the exclusive domain of RD’s, but so much more. In the clients that I have supported so far, only a small portion of our relationship is concerned with nutritional interventions. Yes, I teach a lower carb/ketogenic diet, and yes, I have developed a Chemo Fasting Protocol that is highly effective in protecting the body from chemo side effects. But most of my ongoing interaction with my clients has been more in the area of supportive listening, providing compassion and empathy, helping to translate the medical aspects of cancer and its treatments into terms that non-medical folks can understand, and mostly, instilling confidence and empowerment in what can feel like an overwhelming situation. I’ve been there – I get it!

The mind/body/spirit connection is real, and each part has a massive impact on the other parts. And taken together, they comprise our life experience and how we view and interact with our world. There are times in life when we must “let go”, “be still and know that I am God”, and simply “be in the moment”. But there are other situations where we need to question the “status quo”, listen to our inner guru about what’s right for us, and take control of our own journey. That’s the KICKASS part. I get that too.

Borrowed with thanks from on the


I had been mulling this over and, as often happens, the answer came to me out of the blue, like a gift from the universe. I want to be a “doula”.

Most people are familiar with the concept of a birth or pregnancy doula, a non-medical person who is support for the pregnant woman and her family throughout the birth process and the pre- and post-partum periods. Unlike the doctor or midwife, they are not the ones to deliver or care for the baby, but they are there for the parents. They provide personalized support for the person going through the process, not the process itself. There are also death doulas who provide a similar type of support at the end of life. They are especially helpful for those who wish to complete their life journey at home or as a medically-assisted death.

The word “doula” comes from ancient Greek, meaning “a woman who serves.” I love that! Wikipedia says “A doula is a trained companion who is not a healthcare professional and who supports another individual (the doula’s client) through a significant health-related experience.”

Bang on! That’s what I want to be…

The beauty of this concept is that I can practice anywhere.

I’m not functioning as a Registered Dietitian, so the limitations of my license don’t apply. My nutrition knowledge is for educational purposes only, similar to what you get from reading my book.

But… you get the rest of me, the supportive, experienced, spiritual, kick-in-the-butt-when-you-need-it me. The me that you can ask anything of, bounce things off of, vent to and always be heard and acknowledged.

I’m not a trained counselor, just a fellow traveler and someone who has been there. I understand physiology and the medical system and can help with the overwhelming nature of cancer care.

I’m willing to discuss your pooping problems as well as your hopes and dreams for after treatment. I’m a veritable goldmine of resources that I can send you if we identify some information that you need, even if it’s as simple as a recipe to help you poop better…

I’ve been there – I get it…

Cancer Doula Consult Services

Want a keto cancer coach in your back pocket?  How about your own personal Cancer Doula?  One who understands the ins and outs of chemotherapy and medical treatments, and who is deeply passionate about eating well for maximum chemotherapy effectiveness and minimal side effects for you.

A keto diet is not a cure for cancer, but it can be a powerful adjunct therapy, existing alongside chemotherapy, radiation, and other cancer treatments.  It can support wound healing from surgery and reduced inflammation throughout the body.  Its use is evidence-based and research is continuing to prove its effectiveness.  Never mind that it’s delicious and relatively easy to do.  But there’s lots of keto diet misinformation out there and it’s important that you do it right for best results.

The use of targeted fasting for chemotherapy is a recent development. It has been studied in research in a variety of animal models and is proven safe and effective.  Human trials are progressing slowly, but cancer patients don’t have time to wait.  My protocol is safe, effective and available for just about anyone.


Services Available

For the last year and a half, I have been fortunate and honoured to work with the esteemed Miriam Kalamian at Dietary Therapies, helping her clients to implement low carb and ketogenic diets into their cancer journeys.  The Dietary Therapies team are nutrition educators and coaches who assist self-referred clients with enhancing their knowledge of the metabolic idiosyncrasies of cancer and how to exploit those using nutritional strategies.

As Miriam’s co-coach, I am meeting with those clients who have cancers other than brain cancer, which is Miriam’s specialty.  As this work has increased, I have now decided to put Cancer Doula services on hold and direct any inquiries to my work at Dietary Therapies.

To learn more about Dietary Therapies and to book a consult with me or with another team member, please visit the Dietary Therapies website here and check out the services for new clients here.

I look forward to connecting with you and sharing my knowledge and support, bolstered by the depth of knowledge and additional resources that come from being part of the Dietary Therapies team.



Martha Tettenborn RD
Registered Dietitian/Primal Health Coach/Cancer Doula
Dietary Therapies LLC / The Cancer Doula