FOR thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer, chemotherapy is an unavoidable part of the course. But Jessica Richards shocked loved ones when she turned down all the drugs normally prescribed to fight the disease. She refused not only chemo, but also a mastectomy and radiotherapy advised by doctors.
Instead, the 55-year-old former model decided that what she needed was a complete diet overhaul. Jessica, from Bedfordshire, England, who now works as a leadership mentor, cut out dairy, upped her vegetable intake and took high doses of vitamin C.
Within three weeks of starting her intensive regime, a scan showed her tumour had gone to sleep and her latest blood tests came back normal.
Nothing ever really prepares you for the news you have cancer but I’d definitely been given some pretty big clues along the way.
To say I’d had to deal with my fair share of bad news from doctors over the years was an understatement. My modelling career in my early 20s was cut short by crippling arthritis. A few years later I contracted pneumonia which knocked me sideways and left me weighing less than six stone. Recovered, I then contracted an eye infection and went blind in one eye but devised my own eye exercises which completely restored my sight.
The cancer consultant who’d done my ultrasound scans said my tumour was so large I’d need accelerated chemotherapy for several months. He said I would almost certainly need a mastectomy or at least a large lumpectomy with significant reconstruction, my lymph nodes removed, radiotherapy and five years of hormone-altering drugs after that. I really didn’t know if I could survive.
Although I did in the end choose what might be termed an “alternative” path, I did so under strict medical supervision.
I switched from a generally healthy diet to a metabolic one, focusing on alkaline over acid foods and cutting out all sugars. I also cut out all grains and most fruit, which are broken down into sugars. Instead I concentrated on leafy green vegetables, short grain rice, quinoa and linseeds, and cut out all dairy, which is pumped with artificial hormones. I also had regular high-dose infusions of vitamin C, a natural form of chemotherapy.
Three weeks later I went back to my consultant radiologist for a check-up and was told the tumour was breaking down exactly like it would with intensive chemotherapy. Even though that consultant still warned me away from any alternative route, he said that the tumour appeared to have “gone to sleep”.
I went back for further blood tests two months later which showed no abnormal activity and while the tumour was still there, it had shrunk to under half its original size and was breaking up. My recovery was gradual but consistent. By mid 2008, the high-dose vitamin C injections had come to an end but I was carrying on with my metabolic diet.
I got blood test results in February this year saying that I’m completely normal and don’t have to go back to hospital for a year, which is as much as I could have hoped for. I’m not suggesting for a second that everyone should take an alternative approach. What I am saying is that anyone with a major health scare should make their own, informed choices. Ask questions. Investigate. Don’t be intimidated or frightened and get the right team around you. It’s not a journey anyone should make alone.
Jessica has written a book called The Topic Of Cancer. It is £12.99 from jessicarichards.co.uk.