By Blythe Bernhard
St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
As a vegetarian and daily yoga practitioner, Amy Johnson thought she was healthy before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last August.
Now she consumes 50 pounds of carrots, 25 pounds of Granny Smith apples and 14 heads of romaine lettuce each week in an effort to keep it from coming back.
The 43-year-old fashion designer has embraced an unconventional and controversial cancer treatment called Gerson therapy, named for the doctor who developed the vegetarian diet to treat his migraine headaches in the 1940s.
Eventually, his practice grew to include numerous other maladies, including cancer.
The therapy is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration or recommended by national cancer organizations.
Patients pay $11,000 to spend two weeks at a Gerson clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, to learn the diet of juicing, supplements and enemas that they stay on for two years.
After surgery to remove the right ovary, doctors discovered Johnson’s cancer was a rare and aggressive form of clear cell carcinoma that may not respond well to drugs.
Johnson had more surgery, including a hysterectomy, and then decided against chemotherapy.
She has raised $24,000 from friends and family, and she and her mother traveled to Mexico in October to learn about the therapy that requires a drastic lifestyle change.
“I know chemo works for many people. It didn’t make sense to me. I wanted to pump nutrients into my body, not toxins,” Johnson said.
Doctors, friends, family members and her design clients tried to talk Johnson into going the traditional route with chemotherapy.
Her mother, a nurse, was initially fearful of the decision.
“I was just very leery about it all, but Amy seems to adjust to things so well,” said Carolyn Johnson of Highland, Mo. “She’s gained back most of her energy and emotionally, she’s so much better. Her father and I are just amazed at how well she’s handling all this.”