Dr Todd Smith: I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine
Published in
10 min readMay 16, 2022


To keep doing what I do. I have survived 3 bouts of cancer and a stroke, while becoming a successful husband, father, businessman, and physician. Inspire people with cancer with my story not to lose hope or give up, but also to enjoy life and live it like it was the last day as we never know what the future holds.

Cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease. Yet millions of people have beaten the odds and beat cancer. Authority Magazine started a new series called “I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It”. In this interview series, we are talking to cancer survivors to share their stories, in order to offer hope and provide strength to people who are being impacted by cancer today. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Todd Smith.

Dr. Todd A. Smith, NMD, FABNE known as @TheDudeDoctor is a successful businessman and integrative physician that has survived cancer 3 times, 2 as a child with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), at the ages of 8 and 12, and thyroid cancer at the age of 35. He has been happily married for 33 years to his wife, Deb; and has a 28 year old daughter and a 25 year old son ,Bri and Derek. He loves studying the “wonders” of the human body and helping people improve their health, but his greatest love and enjoyment is spending time and creating experiences with friends and family.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! We really appreciate the courage it takes to publicly share your story. Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your background and your childhood backstory?

My own personal journey was a powerful force in becoming a doctor. Battles with cancer and the loss of loved ones shaped my passion for helping patients truly heal so they can live a healthy and abundant life.

“My experience with doctors and hospitals began at an early age when my maternal grandfather was hospitalized for heart disease. It wasn’t too much later that he suffered a heart attack and I lost him. This was when my first thoughts of becoming a doctor occurred.

Later, at the age of eight, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), which returned at the age of 12. Growing up dealing with childhood cancer and spending many long hours and days in medical offices and hospitals, I knew someday I wanted to become a doctor.

My pediatric oncologist, with whom I developed a very close relationship during the 12 years I knew him, further reinforced my interest in medicine and becoming a doctor. At the age of 16, my Leukemia went into remission, and two years later, I started college at a large university as a pre-med student. However, during my senior year, my path veered, and I graduated with a business degree. I entered the business world and, over the next 15+ years, climbed my way up the corporate ladder, holding several middle-management and executive positions. However, I was never truly happy. I felt I was not doing what I was meant to do.

In my late twenties, early morning on New Year ’s Day, I received a devastating phone call from my father that my mother had died from a heart attack. In my mid-thirties, I had another setback in my personal health; I had a stroke, and if that wasn’t enough, my work-up also revealed that cancer had reared its ugly head again, this time thyroid cancer. According to my adult Oncologist, this resulted from the radiation treatments I received as a child for the Leukemia. At this point, I knew that life was too short and that I was on the wrong path. The passion for medicine was still alive inside me. I felt strongly I wanted to practice medicine and help people become healthy or better yet, prevent them from becoming ill in the first place. We had a family meeting and decided it was time to make a change.

I resigned from my executive management position, and my wife, kids and I packed up our life in Illinois to start our new journey in Arizona. Shortly after arriving, I began medical school, where I would study the standard medical curriculum along with studies in natural medicine (CAM — complementary and alternative medicine). In addition to my studies, I served as a teaching assistant (TA) for many faculty members (MDs and PhDs). I was actively involved in volunteering, medical missions, and student mentoring programs.

Four years later, I graduated first in my class, receiving the Highest Academic Achievement award, while also being honored with the prestigious Outstanding Student Leadership Award in recognition of my commitment to academic excellence, the school, the community, and the advancement of the profession.

I could never have done this without the love and support of my wife and our children, Bri and Derek. I believe my path has come full circle, and I am now doing what I love and was meant to do.”

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

From the movie Evan Almighty.

“God: How do we change the world?

Evan Baxter: One single act of random kindness at a time.

God: [spoken while writing A-R-K on ground with a stick] One Act, of, Random, Kindness.”

I feel I have been blessed to be still living today and with a wonderful wife, children, family and friends. There is no way to say thank you enough to God, my Pediatric Oncologist (who became a friend of the family), and my friends and family who where there for me when going thru my cancers and other illnesses. The best way for me to say thanks you is the above and hopefully that helps someone feel better and smile and the world a better place.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about surviving cancer. Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you found out that you had cancer?

I was at my Aunt’s house playing with my cousins and then started to not feel very well and spiked a fever over 104F. I was latter taken to a local hospital where the diagnosis was made. I was transferred down to Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago for further evaluation and treatment.

What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?

At 8 years old, I really didn’t understand what was going on, what cancer was, or even really the concept that I could die. The scariest thing for me was all the “shots” (>400, including spinal taps and bone marrow’s) I received while in the hospital and after the hospital

How did you react in the short term?

Besides when I was receiving “shots”, I enjoyed being in the hospital as I received a lot of attention from family and the nurses, gifts, ice creams and more

After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use? What did you do to cope physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?

As a child, as stated above, I really did not have an understanding on what was happening and the potential consequences, including death. When I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer, My faith, God, wife and family gave me all the support I needed to cope.

Is there a particular person you are grateful towards who helped you learn to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that?

My wife. She was right by my side during the “bright” and “dark” times helping me deal and cope with the cancer, including “kicking me in the butt” when needed. I truly believe without her, I would not be where I’m at today.

In my own cancer struggle, I sometimes used the idea of embodiment to help me cope. Let’s take a minute to look at cancer from an embodiment perspective. If your cancer had a message for you, what do you think it would want or say?

It has helped with my faith and relationship with God and that life is a blessing, wonderful and joyful, but finite at the same time (death) and that you need to enjoy and live life as if it were your (or a loved one’s) last day. At the same time helping people with A.R.K. (Life Lesson Quote).

What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? How has cancer shaped your worldview? What has it taught you that you might never have considered before? Can you please explain with a story or example?

That do not lose hope and give up when life “throws you a curve ball.

I believe there is good in the world, including people dedicating their lives to the study, treatment, and support of cancer and I truly believe one day we will have very safe and effective therapies for cancer, not necessarily a “cure”, but where little to no one dies from cancer.

I have lost my maternal grandfather and mother to CVD, while losing my paternal grandparents to cancer (ovarian and colon). Live each day as if it was you last as you never know when “your time” or a loved one will be up.

How have you used your experience to bring goodness to the world?

Yes. See “Life Lesson Quote” above. Gave up the success of the Corporate world and our life in Illinois and moved to AZ and started over, eventually becoming a licensed physician and helping people heal and live a healthy and abundant life. I want to do the same that my Pediatric Oncologist did for me for my patients

What are a few of the biggest misconceptions and myths out there about fighting cancer that you would like to dispel?

  • Cancer is not necessarily a “death sentence”, especially because medicine research, technology and therapies are increasing and rapidly developing. Deaths from cancer has been steadily decreasing since the 1990’s. The cancer I had (ALL) is highly effective (~95% success rate) now.
  • It’s normal to have “down” days, this is why your support network is important, to help you thru these times and helping you not lose hope.
  • You do have some control of your own cancer “risks”. i.e. not smoking, eating health, living a physically active life, regular visits to you doctor and getting screened regularly, etc.
  • I have no family history of cancer, so I don’t need to worry and do things mentioned in the above bullet point. Approximately 5–10% of cancer are caused by inherited genes, the remaining are caused by mutations from other factors i.e. environment, behavioral, lifestyle, smoking, etc

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give to others who have recently been diagnosed with cancer? What are your “5 Things You Need To Beat Cancer? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. No matter what people say, DO NOT lose hope, positive mind-set
  2. Connect with a higher power, whatever that means to you.
  3. Friends and family (and support groups) for support and coping, especially during the “dark” times
  4. Good nutrition & lifestyle, don’t forget the basics of health — diet, physical activity, sleep, stress management, good relationship with self, family, friends, community
  5. Be open minded, like a parachute (only works when it’s open)

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?

To keep doing what I do. I have survived 3 bouts of cancer and a stroke, while becoming a successful husband, father, businessman, and physician. Inspire people with cancer with my story not to lose hope or give up, but also to enjoy life and live it like it was the last day as we never know what the future holds.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. :-)

Even though he is blind and cannot read your column, it would be Andrea Bocelli. He was given a “curveball” in his life when losing his eyesight, but overall did not lose hope or give up on life and has become a very successful father, husband, and operatic singer. He sings to thousands of people all over the world, inspiring many.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Website blog, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.

Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.

He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, Food Network, WW, and Bloomberg. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.

Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.



Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC), Journalist, Best-selling Author, Podcaster, and Stage 3 Cancer Survivor