How to Beat Cancer from Square One
How to Beat Cancer from Square One
Chris Wark didn’t set out to be an online entrepreneur. He was a successful real estate investor and musician who got cancer and beat it using untraditional methods. Later, he realized he had all of this amazing knowledge and encouragement to share with cancer patients, so he followed some advice to “just get started.” Now he’s helping thousands of cancer patients, survivors, and those who want to prevent cancer via his blog, courses, and other programs while fulfilling his personal mission.
He’s an inspiration not only for healing himself of cancer naturally but for how and what it really takes to run a wellness business behind-the-curtain. Chris is just as generous and gracious in person as he is in the in this interview and is truly changing the face of cancer care. What follows is a transcript of our interview with Chris you won’t want to miss.
- Tell us about your business – what’s your mission; your soul’s purpose and why you created your wellness business or service?
Well, I am a 13-year cancer survivor and 7 years after I recovered from cancer, I decided to start a blog called Chris Beat Cancer because I did some things that were very unconventional in my healing journey. I refused chemotherapy after surgery for stage 3 colon cancer and radically changed my diet and my lifestyle. I changed everything about my life and did everything I could find and afford to promote health and healing in my body and I got well despite the odds.
After 7 years, I just realized my story was important and I knew that there were people in the world that could be encouraged by my story and I knew I had a lot of useful, helpful, powerful information to share with people that had cancer or people that wanted to prevent cancer. So all these principles that I’d learned and incorporated in my own life, I was basically squandering them. I was squandering everything I’d learned
Then I realized that was not what I needed to be doing with my life. I was in the real estate business flipping properties. I had rental property and I decided to start this blog so it was just my way of sharing my story with the world and sharing helpful information. Over the course of many years of blogging about once a week – which is not, you know, aggressive blogging by any stretch – but I was doing it my spare time. About once a week consistently I would write a new article or interview someone and what happened very quickly was little did I know there were a lot more people out there looking for this information than I thought and so people just started coming to me in droves.
Of course, this was the early days of social media and I was one of the first sort of alternative cancer bloggers out there. Kris Carr was one and I was kind of like the other one and there weren’t really any others. So I was in the right place at the right time to share my story and to kind of jump out there and start talking about alternative therapies and nutrition and natural therapies, non-toxic therapies, and warning people about the risks associated with conventional cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy and radiation.
I just found a passion for helping people and sharing what I’ve learned. I realized that I’m sort of a teacher – you know, I’m wired to be a teacher. I love to teach. I love to share what I’ve learned. So I started this blog and I didn’t start it as a money-making venture. I just started it to share my heart and to help people and I just had a passion about it. So for the better part of 4 to 5 years, I was still working a day job in real estate and I was just blogging. I’d spend maybe a 1 day a week or a couple days a week working on a new article or working on the blog.
What happened was I did build it with the hopes that one day it would grow and would be able to support my family and maybe I could do it full-time. I understood the power of the internet and the infinite scalability of an internet business or a blog. There’s no limit to the amount of people that you can reach. So I definitely was aware of that potential early on and I would read a couple books. This was 2010; I read Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk. I read The 4-hour Work Week like everybody else.
Both of those books really kind of lit a fire under me to just do something and just to get started. I think Crush It was a great book because Gary really dispels a lot of the objections and obstacles and resistance that people have to doing what they want to be doing and basically the message of the book is “just start,” just start doing it. You don’t have to have a great camera. You don’t have to know everything. You can be raw and ugly but if you’re passionate about something, you need to get online and start talking about it.
So I was like, “I can do that.” Anyway, as I just kept blogging and then posting on social media and my audience grew. It took again between 4 and 5 years. Right around that time, I kind of looked at the financial situation of the blog and I realized, “Wow, this is doing really well. I think I can quit real estate now.” So around the 5-year mark, I decided no more real estate business, no more active real estate, and I’m going to focus on the blog full-time.
So my mission is, if it isn’t clear already, to reach as many people as possible with the message of hope and healing that cancer can be prevented, that it is largely a diet- and lifestyle-driven disease, and that there are millions of people around the world that have much lower rates of cancer than the US and Europe and Westernized nations. It’s because these people are not living and eating the way we live and eat.
So again the mission of the blog really is to give information and encouragement and inspiration to cancer patients, first of all, that they can change their life and that their choices matter and that they have the power to influence their health and their future. They are not powerless as many are led to believe by their doctors.
Many cancer patients are led to believe that there’s nothing they did that contributed to their disease. Therefore, there’s nothing they can do to help themselves except for show up for treatment. It’s just not true; it’s false. My main mission field are cancer patients, to help them like right now today but then also to help people that are serious about prevention make those changes in their life that can dramatically reduce their cancer risk.
- In your opinion, what is the most significant factor in healing or overall wellness?
The most significant factor in healing is determination. Motivation comes and goes, but determination will see you through. Don’t quit, even if you don’t get the results you want at first. And stay open to the fact that what you may think is right may be wrong, and what you think is healthy may not be healthy for you. Be willing to give up everything and try anything.
- What do you wish people realized when it comes to their health or about the wellness industry?
I try to help people realize that their choices matter. And that their situation is often a result of their choices. Small changes can sometimes produce big results. But massive action always produces massive results. Total commitment is easier than partial commitment. 100% is easy. 99% is hard.
- How long did it take you to reach important milestones in your wellness business? And, what has really helped you move the needle in making your vision a reality?
I mentioned that I sort of began with the end in mind. In other words, even though there was no big money-making opportunity for me in the beginning and I really didn’t want the site to be all about money. I didn’t put any ads on my site. I’m not against ads but I was very conscientious about the experience that I want people to have when they come to my site.
I don’t want it to be littered with a bunch of sort of trashy junk clickbait ads from companies that I can’t even control. I wanted to control the experience that people have on my site and, unfortunately, ads with ad revenue – you lose control. That, to me, I realized was not something I wanted to do so there were no ads on my site.
The very first thing I did to monetize the site was to become an Amazon affiliate. I set up an affiliate account with Amazon and I realized, “Oh, wow. Okay.” I learned that I could link to Amazon. I could link books that I recommended. I could link to a juicer or blenders or supplements that I liked or recommended or supplements that people I interviewed recommended and some people would click through and buy those things and I’d get a small commission.
My very first commission check from Amazon was – I think it was like $17. Okay, so I guess that was the first milestone, right? I made $17 and it just gradually grew from there, month after month. It didn’t always go up the next month. There have always been ups and downs just based on the amount of traffic my site gets or the amount of posting I do or whatever.
But that revenue stream started very small and has grown to be substantial now and again it’s just a reflection of the amount of traffic my site gets. So that was good. The most important milestone was the one I mentioned earlier where I was able to walk away and do what I do full-time.
Knowing what I know now, I could have pursued this full-time and quit real estate much sooner but again I was conscientious about not wanting to just have a website that’s advertising to people and always selling stuff. I really felt like you can lose people’s trust when they think you’re just trying to sell them something and I wasn’t trying to sell them anything. I was trying to share and encourage and inspire them.
So I took sort of a slow path to I guess what you call “internet business success” or “online business success.” But it was the path I wanted to take, it was the path I was most comfortable with, and I felt like basically it’s the golden rule, right? I’m treating people the way I wanted to be treated so that’s why it took a long time. It took roughly 4 to 5 years.
What we know now is anyone can start a website and and start running ad traffic and go through Facebook and run Facebook ads and send people to their site and sell them something. So it’s definitely easy to start a business on the internet and sell something and make a profit with very low overhead and make a profit very quickly but that wasn’t my road.
- Tell us about the start-up scares: Was there a moment where you ever seriously contemplated giving up?
I never had any big scares but there were moments early on where I was attacked. I didn’t realize how much opposition I would have talking about the things I talk about. Cancer is very controversial and when you talk about nutrition for cancer and the fact that it’s powerful and it helps the body heal, some people really don’t like that message.
So, yeah, I had haters and people attacking me and criticizing me and calling me all kinds of names. In the beginning, that was tough but I just had to accept the fact that if I’m gonna’ do this, people are gonna’ attack me. They’re gonna’ disagree with me and I just have to be a big boy and not let it get to me. I learned really quickly not to worry about people that attacked me and to shrug it off and let it go but I never really wanted to quit.
That was a little bit of a tough lesson that every person has to learn when you step out of your comfort zone and you have an important message and that maybe it’s controversial, that you’re gonna’ have people that hate you. Hate is a strong word but you’re gonna’ have people that strongly disagree with you and want to attack you and criticize you. Most of them are cowards and will do it anonymously and they really don’t know you at all.
I realized that as long as my wife and my family and my friends still like me and love me, then I’m doing it right. It doesn’t matter if the whole world hates you. If your family and your friends love you and know the real you, then you’re doing it right. But if the whole world loves you and your family and friends hate you and think you’re a terrible person, then you’re doing it wrong. My family and friends love me; that’s good!
Again, I’ve never had any scares so nothing scary in building this business. I was in real estate so for me it was just a part-time passion. I never had any big financial risk or anything like that trying to grow my online business.
- Did you ever fail or make a substantial mistake in business or organization? Any serious challenges? How did you overcome and resolve it?
I’ve made tons of mistakes. tons of failures. Most of them were in the real estate business and that’s a whole ‘nother interview topic. As far as the online world and online business, yeah, I failed lots of times but to me they weren’t painful fails. It’s just trying things and realizing, “Okay, that doesn’t work,” right? So no major catastrophic financial failures, no PR nightmares, nothing like that. No real serious challenges.
The biggest challenge I think anyone who’s growing a blog faces is consistency, right? If you want to be successful, you have to consistently produce new content and it needs to be good. Consistency is key. Just keep writing those articles, keep making those videos, keep doing those interviews. When you start out in the beginning, nobody cares and nobody’s gonna’ watch them and nobody’s gonna’ read them.
You have to push through those humble beginnings where nobody cares or respects you or thinks you know anything. Eventually, over time, you will find your audience so the people that you’re meant to reach will find you. That’s the beauty of Google. That’s the beauty of the Internet is that you can find your audience. It doesn’t matter what you’re into. You can be a person that is obsessed with three-legged cats and if you start a blog about three-legged cat lovers, you’re gonna’ find other three-legged cat lovers in the world. They’re gonna’ find you and that’s your audience. Maybe you can sell them like three-legged cat sweaters or whatever.
The point is – it doesn’t matter what you are into. It’s easy now to connect with other people just like you and if you want to start a business wrapped around your passion, now is the time to do it.
- What action has the most impact that you’ve taken to reach your goal/s?
There are a few things that I’ve done over the years that have paid big dividends for me now. One of them was reaching out and getting to know the other people in my space and networking with other people in the alternative health, natural health, nutrition, alternative cancer space and promoting people that I liked, that I agreed with, that I respected – interviewing and promoting other influencers’ products, programs, books, conferences, and things like that.
I pretty much said “yes” to everything in the beginning, assuming that it aligned with my core values. In terms of promotion, I promoted a lot of programs and summits and book launches and things like that over the years and made a lot of friends and a lot of influential friends. I never asked them for anything. I never asked them to promote for me or do anything for me. I just was generous and loved to share things that I’m passionate about with my audience.
What happened was once I quit the real estate business, that gave me enough free time to create the course that I’d been wanting to create for many years which is called “Square One.” It’s a health and nutrition course for cancer patients and people that are serious about prevention. I created that course and when I launched it, I approached everyone who I had promoted for as an affiliate and many of them were happy to promote for me.
So I built up all this sort of kinetic energy, I guess you could say, over the years and then when I launched my course it was a huge success, the biggest success I’ve ever had in my life, because I had so much momentum and kinetic energy and torque behind it. I had cultivated all these relationships with very successful people over the years.
It wasn’t one action that was impactful. It was just a series of many, many, many things that I’ve done over the years. I’d just generated so much goodwill and friendship and rapport and favors with a lot of influencers in the health space. Then when it was my turn to introduce something to the world, to launch my course, many of them stepped right in and said, “Man, we’re right behind you. We’re gonna’ send an e-mail to our big list and help you promote this thing.”
You could say the most impactful action was creating the course but the course would not have been as big of a success right away had I not spent all that time cultivating relationships with people that could help me be successful. Now, having said that, you could create a course and know no one and launch it and run Facebook ads to it and probably still be pretty successful now.
There’s always a learning curve with any business. It’s taken me years to understand affiliate marketing and course launches and all that kind of stuff. Nothing happened overnight. Now it’s been 7 years I’ve been blogging so it’s been many years of learning and paying attention to other people, watching how they run their businesses, how they write e-mails, how they launch products, and sort of just absorbing all that stuff and then using some of it, using the things that made sense to me and fit with what I do.
- What would you tell your younger/earlier self about following your dreams?
When it comes to this business, I feel like part of me could have told my other self, “Create the course sooner.” But if I had created the course sooner, it wouldn’t be as good as it is now, right? I would have maybe made more money earlier and maybe I could have quit real estate earlier.
The biggest piece of advice really would just be to start sooner. Instead of blogging once a week, do twice a week, three times a week. Create the course. I’d get really serious about creating your product because if your goal is to get from where you are, like making no money or at a job you hate, to having a successful business that you love – well, you have to have a product to sell. You can promote other people’s products and make some money but you’ll make the most money with your own product, your own book or your own course or your own coaching program or your own retreat or whatever it is.
So the sooner you can create your own product to share with the world and, of course, it needs to be valuable and powerful and helpful and all those kinds of things or it can just be like a new comb, like a really fancy hair brush. I mean, whatever, but the point is you have to create something or you have to get really serious about selling something that someone else created. The sooner you jump on and the sooner you get busy, the sooner you take action, the sooner you’re gonna’ get results.
- What’s the best piece of business or personal advice YOU’VE ever received?
There’s multiple pieces of advice over the years but one I mentioned right at the beginning. In Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crush It, the big message is “just get started.” If you have a passion, just start with what you have, start with your camera phone, start making videos or start writing blog articles. Just start. Just get started and stop making excuses as to why you can’t do it.
Yeah, in any space there’s people out there already doing what you want to do and their websites look better and they’re better looking and they’re better on camera. There’s all kinds of reasons why you could tell yourself you can’t do that but everyone’s different and when you put yourself out there, you will find your own audience. I used to be kind of more jealous and envious of other people and even critical of other people in the health space. But then I realized, wait a minute, I’m glad they’re not doing what I think they should be doing because it presents an opportunity for me to do it. I used to think, gosh, they really should be doing this instead of that or whatever. Again, they’re not doing that because that’s what I’m supposed to do.
Other best advice I’ve received: Focus is huge. Making to-do lists, making an action plan, like really, really focusing on getting your work done, finishing your project whether it’s a book or a course or designing a product. You have to focus on it and you have to make it a priority or else it’s just gonna’ get pushed down the road. That’s like kicking the can down the road. You’re gonna’ procrastinate for days, weeks, months, years and then wake up and look back and realize you’ve wasted a bunch of time. You have to focus on it. You got to prioritize it and you have to get after it.
- Has having money or success changed you?
I’ve had successes in the real estate business before this, before I was a full-time blogger or whatever I am. It changes you in some ways. I like to think it’s only changed me in good ways and not in the bad ways. The bad ways are obvious, right? Success can make you arrogant and make you think you’re better than other people and make you think you’re invincible and that anything you touch will turn to gold.
Also, success – it’s usually financial but financial success, it really doesn’t change people. I love this expression which I’m paraphrasing: It doesn’t really change people. It just reveals and it amplifies who they already are. If somebody’s a jerk, if they become successful they become an even bigger jerk. I like to think I’m a pretty good guy and so now that I’m more successful than I was 5 years ago or 10 years ago, I’m an even better guy. I like to think that but I’ve seen it change people for sure. The good changes, the positive changes that I’ve seen happen in my own life is being successful gives you more resources to be generous, to do things for others, to fund mission projects, to fund charitable projects. I don’t want to toot my own horn but I’ve been able to do some things like that, that I’m really, really proud of.
So it’s changed that for sure. It’s hard to be generous when you have nothing, when you’re broke. It’s hard to make an impact in the world when you’re broke. It’s much easier to make an impact in the world when you have resources, when you have money. I’m really, really glad to be able to say that I have enough money to take care of my family and to be a generous giver.
- How do you create, innovate, or break rules in life or in business?
I just follow my passion. That’s what I do. I’m always learning new things. New research is coming across my desk. I’m constantly looking and constantly reading and researching. Whenever something comes across my desk that excites me, then I will dive into it. That’ll turn into a video or a blog post and that’s how I create. I just really chase after things that I’m excited about, topics and ideas and concepts and information. There’s no shortage of that.
As far as innovate or breaking the rules, I’m an only child. I’ve been a very independent person since I was a kid and I’ve always just sort of made my own rules. Out of college, I went straight into real estate investing because I didn’t want to work for anybody else, didn’t want a boss. I’ve just always kind of done things the way I want to do them and I don’t care if somebody else thinks I should do it differently or thinks that I’m doing it wrong or there’s a better way.
I have always been very instinctive and intuitively driven so I don’t really worry about rules. I do pay attention to how people do things because I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. If someone’s doing something well, I want to know how they do it so I will definitely pay attention and kind of drill down into tactics that other successful entrepreneurs use to launch a product or to create a successful e-mail campaign or social media campaign or whatever. I pay attention to those things but at the end of the day, I have to listen to my instincts.
If I don’t feel comfortable with the method that everyone is promoting currently – because marketing has a lot of fads, especially social media marketing, internet marketing. Every year, there’s some new fad and some new trick, tactic, or whatever. I like to learn about those things because I think it’s interesting but it doesn’t resonate with me. I just do my own thing.
An example is that when I launched my course, I put the entire course online for free for 10 days. I don’t know anyone that’s ever done that and people told me, “Don’t put your course online for free because no one’s gonna’ buy it.” But I had a strong sense that those people were wrong and that if I created this really, really good course, this really powerful course, that people would love it and they would want to own it and they would buy it and I was right.
We had over 100,000 people tune in to watch my entire course for 10 days. It’s 1 module a day for 10 days and a lot of them bought it which is great. Let’s just say enough of them bought it to make it a big success as far as the launch went. That definitely broke a rule. Everyone else that I’ve seen in the space online, they’re all selling their courses. No one is putting their entire course online for free. I’ve never seen anyone do it.
Now it’s a new model. There’s opportunities out there now. I’ve proven it works. If it’s a great course, people are gonna’ watch it and then they’re gonna’ want to own it because they’re gonna’ want to go through it again and again and take those concepts and incorporate them in their life, whether it’s a course on marketing or a course on health or whatever. That was a big innovator, rule-breaker that I’m pretty proud of.
I didn’t just make it up out of thin air; I basically copied the summit model and the docu-series model that I’ve seen worked so well where an entrepreneur interviews a bunch of experts and they put a summit online for a week or 10 days and then then it’s offline. If you want to own it forever, you have to buy it or they put a docu-series online for a week to 10 days. Again, you gotta’ buy it if you want to own it forever and re-watch it. So I looked at that model. I said, “You know, this will work for my course” and it did.
- Tell us about your most successful launch. What was it for and what really moved the needle for you to make it a success?
The launch was for my “Square One Healing Cancer Coaching Program” for cancer patients, caregivers, and people who are serious about prevention. It takes them through radical life changes: diet, lifestyle, exercise, sleep, stress, spiritual and emotional healing, supplementation, and even testing and monitoring your progress along the way.
It’s a very comprehensive course. No fluff. It’s all action-oriented. I organized it in a way where, even though there’s a ton of information, it’s very synergistic. It all works together versus just being like a shotgun approach where you just bombard people with all these ideas but they have no idea where to start. Square One is a very clear action plan for people.
That was the course I launched in February. We had 50 affiliates promote it. Over 100,000 people tuned in and the reason it was successful was because 1. the quality of the course. Even though we put it online for free, tons of people bought it because it was that good. 2. I had all of this momentum coming into it because I had been promoting for a lot of other big influencers in the health space for years. I had great relationships with some very influential people with big audiences and big email lists and when I asked them to promote for me they a lot of them said yes.
They were the drivers behind the success of the launch. If it wasn’t for them – I had my own e-mail list which at that time was about 150,000 people. It certainly would have been a success if I had just launched it to my list alone but having 50 affiliates promoting for me, we added another over 100,000, maybe 110,000 people to my list. I went from 150 to right around between 260 and 270. It almost doubled my list so that was huge.
- Stevie Wonder or The Beatles? (this, I personally must know.) 🙂
I love Stevie Wonder and I love the Beatles but I have to pick the Beatles because, in terms of number of great songs that I love, the Beatles have more. They just have more songs that I love. Of course, I love some Stevie Wonder, love Superstition. He’s got some great songs but The Beatles catalog is so deep and I just love so many Beatles’ songs that if I was stranded on a deserted island, I would pick Beatles.
I appreciate the opportunity to share a little bit about my business and how I run it and built it. Hopefully this is helpful to your readers.
Real estate investor and musician Chris Wark, was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2003, at 26 years old. After surgery, he refused chemotherapy and chose nutrition and natural therapies to heal his body. In 2010, he went public with his story and mission to inspire people to take control of their health and reverse disease with a radical transformation of diet and lifestyle. Today, Chris is a professional blogger, podcaster, speaker and health coach with clients all over the world including celebrities and even medical doctors. He has made many appearances on radio and television including The Ricki Lake Show, The Lisa Oz Show, The Food Revolution, and documentaries like The Truth About Cancer and The C Word. Chris reaches millions of people per year through his website chrisbeatcancer.com and his powerful healing course SQUARE ONE.