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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

M.D. Daughter Helps Save Her Father’s Life with Functional Medicine

By Diane Herbst

Dave Sood learned the devastating news on April 23, 2015: He had stage 4 metastatic cancer that was found in his lymph nodes. Doctors didn’t know where the disease was originating from, making chemotherapy and radiation “a shot in the dark,” Dave recalls. At one point, an oncologist at a prominent New York City hospital told Dave he had just months before the cancer would spread to his whole body if he didn’t start the treatment immediately.

After consulting with his daughter, Monica Sood, M.D., a board certified anesthesiologist who now practices functional medicine at Kaya Health and Wellness/IV Nutrition Lounge in Short Hills, Dave took an alternate route.

In addition to an eventual short course of chemotherapy once the cancer’s origin was determined and by embracing his daughter’s prescription—one that includes IV therapy drips, juicing, eating an abundance of organic fruits and vegetables daily and taking a variety of supplements—Dave is not only cancer free but thriving.

“Right now I am feeling great,” says Dave, 74, of Howell, NJ, a retired computer science professor and former university dean. “I have a new life.”

Monica recalls the day she found out about Dave’s diagnosis when he was 71. “It was completely unexpected,” she says. “His lymph nodes were enlarged. They were recommending chemotherapy based on the cell type, but we didn’t know where the cancer was coming from.”

It’s important to know where the cancer comes from so doctors can give directed treatment that targets the specific type of cancer cell, says Monica.

“Knowing that the doctors were doing their best, my sister Priya and I didn’t want them attempting to guess which treatment would potentially work,” she says. “We weren’t willing to take a chance with all the side effects of chemotherapy without knowing where the cancer originated.”

As a functional medicine doctor, Monica works on getting to the root cause of disease and boosts the body’s immunity with a holistic approach that includes supplements, organic plant-based foods, IVs, exercise, and improved social and spiritual connections.

Monica and Priya, a certified holistic health coach, created an extensive program to detoxify their father’s mind, body and home. Monica tested Dave for heavy metals, parasites, and other toxins to see what she could rid the body of, and designed a personalized nutrition regimen that included organic homemade juices.

Monica also rid her parents’ home of synthetic chemicals, replacing them with non-toxic shampoos and household cleaners. They ordered an infrared sauna to help rid Dave’s body of the toxins he had accumulated, signed him up for meditation classes and ensured that he was surrounded by the love and support of family and friends.

“The sense of community grew so much,” Monica says. “We were overwhelmed with joy by the support of our extended family.”

Monica also trained extensively in IV therapies, and started giving Dave twice-weekly IV infusions of vitamins and minerals.

After 10 months, and despite the cancer not getting worse, Dave gave in to the pressure he felt from some family members to undergo surgery in February of 2016 to remove his diseased lymph nodes.

“After that, things took a turn for the worse, the next scan showed the cancer had spread all over, including the liver,” Monica says. “We went to the doctor and he said, ‘Now there is not much time left, nothing can be done now.’”

Says Dave: “The worst part was, he said ‘You have weeks to live, now is the time to pray and see everyone you want to see.’”

Desperate for a cure, the family took a trip to an alternative medical clinic in Mexico. After weeks of treatment there was no improvement.

“I was feeling defeated,” Monica says, “but I was committed to finding a way.”

The next stop was at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which uses a combination of conventional and alternative treatments. CTCA confirmed that Dave’s cancer had originated in his rectum, and doctors could now begin a targeted chemotherapy on the advanced cancer.

While he underwent chemo, Monica continued to give Dave his twice-a-week IV infusions. “After two cycles of chemotherapy, the doctor told us, ‘The scan is negative,’” says Monica. “The doctor said in disbelief ‘I haven’t seen a result like this in 30 years. Whatever you are doing, keep doing it, it’s working.’”

“My friends don’t believe it,” says Dave. “They say, ‘We prepared ourselves not to see you.’”

On August 7, 2016, Dave’s doctor declared him cancer free, and he has continued the same regimen Monica had prescribed since his diagnosis.

“The conventional medicine in addition to my functional medicine approach was the answer for my father,’” says Monica. “My message is, using alternative therapies and functional medicine will restore physical energy, vigor and resilience. My father is in remission. He is thriving and he is living a life full of vitality.”

Dave’s advice? “For a better life and a good, fruitful life, we need to take care of ourselves and not wait for a diagnosis,” he says.  “Take care of your health, eat vegetables, functional medicine is the only way to go.”

Diane Herbst is a longtime freelance writer who is a correspondent for People magazine and has contributed to many other publications.

Monica Sood, MD is a board certified anesthesiologist and functional medicine doctor at Kaya Health and Wellness and IV Infusion Lounge (, with offices at 51 JFK Parkway, 1st Floor West, Suite 115, Short Hills, and 311 33rd Street, Union City. To schedule an appointment, she can be reached at 973-996-4496 or [email protected].

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