A Group Effort

Q: How did you cure cancer?

A: In 1989, I was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer (3rd class). The doctor advised a hysterectomy. I was in shock-how could I get cancer? For 20 years I'd eaten a healthy, grain-based diet (no refined sugar, no dairy, no meat and mostly seasonal and organic produce). I was numbed with fear. I didn't want to die; and I was a single parent with three young children.

Convinced that I could turn the cancer around, I found a doctor who said he'd give me three months time while I used only natural remedies. Six months later, I was cancer-free. I still remember receiving this empowering news. What a blessing is the gift of good health.

I had immediately sought help from a homeopath, acupuncturist, and herbalist and I relied upon the support of my family, friends, and my spiritual community. I started jogging and did more yoga. I also reexamined my diet and determined the following:

1.    Chinese and Tibetan medicine recommend moderate portions of flesh foods as medicinal food to a person who is weak or who is living in cold mountainous regions at high elevations. Some strict vegetarians "work" with this in the following way: they prepare a stock using chicken or beef bones, strain out the bones and consume only the liquid broth for a strengthening and medicinal tonic..

2.    Refined oils--including many from natural food stores and those used in prepared and restaurant foods-contribute to the formation of free radicals and thus cancer. Quality culinary oils and fats are critical for good health. Additionally, if you are not regularly eating wild, deep sea fish or organic animal organs then it is essential to supplement your diet with omega 3 fatty acids.

3.    For optimum health, favor freshly prepared foods. Today, I cook whole grains and vegetables fresh for each day's use. It may sound like a lot of work, but it really isn't, it's just a matter of intent and organization. Because freshly prepared grains and vegetables foods are so satisfying, I eat less and feel better. The foods which better withstand refrigeration without loosing their savor are cooked beans, meat, poultry and fruit. So I often have some of these cooked foods on hand to accompany the freshly cooked grains and vegetables.

4.    Unless you are of Asian origin, don't eat over 50% carbohydrates. Avoid refined carbohydrates including white flour products, breakfast cereals, and sugar-all of which contribute to degenerative diseases because they do not completely metabolize in our bodies. Additionally, a high-carbohydrate diet is counterproductive for people who have candida-type yeast infections.

Today, I'm blessed with excellent health. I enjoy taking care of myself because then I've ample energy to write, travel, teach, hike and dance. When I'm in a social situation that requires flexibility from my own routine, I judiciously go with the flow but as soon as possible return to my optimum life style.

I continue to study the energetic and medicinal properties of foods. I observe how a specific food makes me feel. I note how that food, prepared in a different way, or with a different food or eaten early versus late in the day has a different energetic effect. It is a fascinating study. And it is useful for all of us to favor foods with specific cancer-fighting properties like miso and seaweed.

I hope my experiences might be of use to you. It's really scary to have cancer or a debilitating illness. We don't know how long we have to live. But, enhancing the quality of our lives-in this moment-is the task at hand and diet is one way of helping to prevent or overcome degenerative illness.

Rebecca Wood's Bio

Rebecca Wood, who learned gardening and foraging techniques from her grandparents and studied with leading experts in macrobiotics and traditional Oriental medicine, has taught and written about a sustainable diet since 1970.

Her book, The Splendid Grain, won both a James Beard Award and a Julia Child/IACP Award. Her most recent book, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, was a One Spirit Book Club (Quality Paperback Book division) main selection.

Rebecca has been an educational consultant to numerous organizations in the natural foods industry and currently offers cooking classes for Eden Foods throughout the Western region. She co-founded and directed the East West Center in Boulder, Colorado and has established several cooking schools. She currently teaches cooking classes from her home kitchen in Ashland, Oregon.

Rebecca's food columns have appeared in Whole Foods Magazine, Health Foods Retailer, and other publications, and she was food editor for East-West Journal and Whole Foods Digest. Her articles appear in various publications including Ladies' Home Journal, American Health, Utne Reader and Delicious!

Today, between dietary coaching and cooking classes, Rebecca is working on her next book which enables busy people to implement a diet that addresses their specific health and energy needs.

Rebecca offers a variety of services. To schedule an appointment, check out Rebecca's wonderful website for more information, articles, recipes and books. Each month new recipes and articles are posted.

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