February 13, 1999, was the day that forever changed how I live. As these stories often begin, I had a routine checkup scheduled with my doctor. I knew of nothing out of the ordinary with my health and had been living as I had always been living, wholly unconcerned. But what my doctor found that day made me rethink everything.
Finding out that I had been living at 190 pounds in weight upset me enough. But then the worse news came: cancer. I should not have been surprised; my mother and sister both had cervical and breast cancers. But there I was, shocked, terrified and wondering, of course, whether I was going to live.
The preliminary tests revealed that I had both a lump in my breast and a developed cervical tumor, just like my mother and sister’s cancers began. My doctors recommended that I respond immediately. Both my sister and mother chose the modern approach to treating cancer, a three-pronged defense of radiation, surgery and chemotherapy. My doctors, of course, recommended that I do the same. They wanted to schedule me for a more blood work, invasive tests, a second opinion and surgery immediately. I was overwhelmed.
I left my doctor’s office that day in a daze. I wanted to understand my options, but from what I had just been through, it did not seem like I had any. I went to a health food store intent on finding more information. I asked for anything that might help me to learn how to cure cancer “naturally,” without drugs or invasive procedures. The first book they recommended was Edie Mae’s How I Cured Cancer Naturally. The book detailed Edie Mae’s journey to heal her body naturally and how, with the help of the Living Foods Center, she was able to regain her health and live better than ever before. Reading that book allowed me the first opportunity since my diagnosis to actually hope, not only that I would live, but that I would live well.
The Living Foods Center that Edie Mae’s book talked about is run by the Ann Wigmore Foundation in New Mexico. Although How I Cured Cancer Naturally had inspired me to face my cancer similarly, I knew that I would need the help of professionals to effectively change the way I had been living for 50 years. I contacted the foundation and was able to reserve a spot in their first available class. In the meantime, they advised me to begin my journey as soon as I could.
I began by reading three of Ann Wigmore’s books that helped to outline the backbone of the Living Foods Center’s approach. I also began drinking wheatgrass juice and incorporating living raw organic foods into my diet, two core principles to what the Living Foods Center had already impressed upon me would be vital to my recovery. I was happy to begin and eager to learn more, but I still had my next appointment with my doctor looming and was not sure how to talk to physicians about my decision.
When it was finally time for me to return to the doctors, I spent two days between that office and the hospital. I had all manners of tests done on me and was again exhausted and confused. When the test results came back, the doctors said they confirmed I needed to have surgery as soon as possible. I felt rushed, like I had no time to think anything over, like I was going to die of cancer right then and there if I didn’t sign their papers. I let them schedule the surgery, but when it came time for me to sign the consent forms, I could not do it.
I told them I wanted to live, that I wanted to beat my cancer, but that I wanted to do it with the Living Foods Lifestyle. They were, at best, skeptical about the power of foods in general, even raw foods. They tried to pressure me into surgery and said that it was my best option for living through this, but I was firm in my decision.
I still had a month and a half till my first class with the Living Food Center. I became even more committed to preparing my body for the journey. I was drinking wheatgrass every day, as well as other fresh juices. Food was just as important as what I drank though. I began loading my plate with foods like organic raw vegetables, but I was not used to eating raw foods at all.
Before my diagnosis, I was living off foods that were any combination of processed, frozen and cooked. Even when I did try to incorporate fruits and vegetables before, they were rarely raw. My body was not prepared for living off of raw foods, but I was determined. I knew that if I could live through cancer, then I would never allow myself to live as I had been living before my diagnosis.
During that time period before my first class, I lost 20 pounds. It felt wonderful. My energy and mood lifted and the bleeding from my cervical tumor subsided. Self-examination even suggested that my breast tumor was shrinking. It was like eating raw foods was allowing my body to shed not only pounds, but also all the other poisons in it that I had accumulated in 50 years of living. My journey was still at its beginning though.
I had been eating better and certainly felt like I was living better, but I still had cancer and, according to my reading, I still had years of toxins built up on my body, particularly in my colon. Merely eating some of the right foods for the past few months was no match for eating all the wrong foods for 50 years. I decided that I wanted to feel how it was to live without that accumulation of waste.
I scheduled my first colonic. Besides my talks with the people at the health food store, this would be my first foray back with professionals since the heated conversations with my cancer doctors. I was very nervous given the nature of the procedure. Even though it was more invasive than the slew of blood tests at the hospital, the colonic felt surprisingly more dignified. I was both horrified and amazed by the buildup of waste that the colonic revealed I had been living with for so long. I knew at once that this procedure, alongside personal enemas and wheatgrass implants I could do myself, was going to be important to not only curing my cancer, but continuing to live in healthy way. I realized that I could eat all the health food I wanted, but I needed that extra help to rid myself of the toxic sludge sitting in my body, the product of years of bad choices with food.
The colonics continued weekly till it was time for my class with the Living Foods Center. I still had not gone back to see any doctors about my cancer, but I felt more confident than ever that I was going to live. I had been eating mostly raw foods at that point, but I was still eager for the Living Foods Center’s help.
The people at the Living Foods Center taught me how to do the at-home enemas and implants, two rituals by which I still live. They also taught me how to prepare more creative, nutrient-packed raw foods, like Energy Soup, Rejuvelac and Vege-Kraut. Although I had been eating mostly raw foods up till my departure for their class, once there and eating strictly raw, I found myself craving all the old foods I used to live off. The cravings intensified, but I learned that they are common. I, like so many others, had been addicted to junk food, to cooked food, to processed and all the other wrong foods. This was the first addiction I ever had to meet, but it would also be the first addiction for me to live through.
I had never experienced detoxing before in my life. My body must had been hanging on to the little bits of cooked and unhealthy food that I was still giving it mixed in with my mostly raw diet before traveling to New Mexico for the Living Foods Center’s class. But at the center, I was eating 100 percent raw food and even going on juice fasts. My body revolted. I had the worst headache of my life for days. My stomach hurt and I constantly felt ill. Every bone and muscle in my body ached and even my skin broke out in both acne and rashes. I was exhausted but could hardly sleep. For the first time since my cancer diagnosis, true depression set it and I began feeling anxious. I was furious with myself and did not think that I deserved to live now that I was being faced with the results of how I had treated my body for so long.
I was feeling sorry for myself and began hating all the raw food I was eating. I desperately wanted my old food ways back. I wanted to cook my food, to eat all of my old favorites. I lamented my future and wondered how I would ever go to any gathering of friends or family again because they all centered on food and nobody wants to celebrate Christmas or birthdays with raw vegetables. I cried and pouted, but I stuck with the program and at the end of those two weeks, I left New Mexico as a woman transformed, albeit only partially.
I went home to my husband another 23 pounds lighter. I celebrated my birthday (raw). I realized the food I was eating was not the only thing that had changed. Everything about me had. I realized I was going to live through my cancer and my new mission had to be to tell more people about my journey and what I had learned. The idea to open a Living Foods Center in Atlanta was planted, but I was still battling cancer, so the idea waited.
It waited while I ruined countless batches of my raw concoctions while trying to get the process just right. It waited while I cheated and had a little of my favorite restaurant food. It waited while I worked through my self-pity and then realized I did not even want sweets anymore. It waited till I realized I was free of the toxins I had built up with bad foods for years, free both physically and emotionally. It waited till I realized I was ready for the final leg of my journey. Self-examination proved I was free of my breast and cervical tumors.
With my son’s help, I opened The Temple of Health and Beauty in Atlanta with the simple goal of helping people who are sick heal their mind and bodies. From my journey, I know that it is possible to help ourselves become healthy, but that it takes a lot of work and, often, some professional help too. My aim is to be there for the people who enter my center just as the professionals who taught me were there during my time of need.
Though the Living Foods Lifestyle may seem “New Age,” it is anything but that. Living raw is simply a return to nature, to times before we sickened ourselves on processed foods and dead flesh. By returning to our roots, we can heal ourselves, one by one. Each day, I thank the people at the Living Foods Center for their help and Edie Mae and Ann Wigmore for their books’ teachings, and I hope that I can give the rest of my life as they did, by teaching others how to naturally heal.