A Highland native says she survived cancer by consuming more than 90 pounds of fruits and vegetables each week for two years. Now, she’s sharing her healthy secrets with her hometown.
Amy Johnson had just recently transitioned from a career as an engineer to owner of her own fashion design business, KayOss Design, when doctor’s discovered an aggressive clear-cell carcinoma while performing a precautionary surgery to remove an ovary.
The diagnosis was a bombshell to Johnson, who rarely felt sick and thought of herself as a healthy person.
“I was shocked. All my friends and family were shocked, too, because I was healthier than most people I knew,” Johnson said. “But that was my former idea of healthy.”
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Later, after a full hysterectomy, Johnson learned of additional illness, Hashimoto’s thyroid disease. She said doctor’s recommended she start chemotherapy to improve her chances of beating cancer.
But she didn’t think it was the right treatment for her.
Before she was diagnosed, Johnson and a friend had started making juice from fruits and vegetables. During their research, Johnson learned some practitioners connected juicing with cancer remission.
She adopted a two-year holistic treatment for her disease called Gerson Therapy.
“It (Gerson Therapy) was all about building up your energy and your immune system,” Johnson said. “I chose that and through that journey, I learned so much more about my life.”
Johnson soon after traveled to Mexico for a two-week crash course at the Gerson Institute, where patients travel to learn the method. She and her mother, Caroline, learned the day-to-day process.
The treatment was created by Dr. Max Gerson in the 1920s as a solution to his persistent headaches. According to the Gerson Institutes website, the therapy works to “activate the body’s natural ability to heal itself.”
That’s achieved by consuming roughly 20 pounds of nutritional foods a day through juicing and other means, detoxing the body through up to five coffee enemas a day and taking a handful of supplements.
Per day, a person on Gerson Therapy consumes roughly a glass every hour, or 13 a day depending on when they wake up and go to sleep. The minute she woke up, Johnson said, she’d start preparing food for her daily diet and storing it in one of the three refrigerators she needed for it all.
“The first day we did it, we almost collapsed. I remember looking at my mom in the kitchen and thinking ‘we made it,’ ” Johnson said. “ It starts as soon as you wake up.”
For two years Johnson continued the “day filling” process, preparing and consuming more than 90 pounds of carrots, granny smith apples and romaine lettuce. Two years later, she remains cancer free.
The therapy isn’t without its critics. The National Cancer Institute cites a lack of reliable evidence from credible studies and cautions cancer patients about trying it in lieu of medical treatments. The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved Gerson Therapy for the treatment of cancer or other diseases.
Johnson said Gerson Therapy isn’t for everyone, but she believes it not only saved her life but also improved her day-to-day life.
Spreading the word about holistic therapy
Now cancer-free, Johnson said she isn’t as strict with her diet, but still sticks to Gerson Therapy’s main principles. While she no longer has three refrigerators in her kitchen, she still keeps an industrial-sized juicer that she says she uses frequently.
Johnson also works to spread the work on holistic therapy to those who are looking to beat, avoid diseases and cancer.
Her next talk is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14 at the Evangelic United Church of Christ in Highland. She said she more than anything wants people to know that when they are diagnosed with disease, they have options.
“Most people get diagnosed and it becomes very scary and they get fearful,” she said. “They’re only told one way, so I like that the information out there.”
Johnson said she started hosting the talks about Gerson Therapy in hopes that she could help people who are looking for choices other than chemotherapy. When she was diagnosed, she said it was hard to believe she had any other options.
Many people who have attended her past talks aren’t sick, but looking are seeking ways to protect themselves from illness, Johnson said. Because of that, her talk is not just about curing sickness, but also preventing it.
“It’s not a depressing talk. It’s exciting to learn things that empower yourself,” Johnson said. “People want to be on the front end of it which is one of the reasons I want to speak because I don’t want people to go through what I went through.”
Johnson has been cancer free for several years and while she stopped designing fashion during her two-year therapy, she’s gotten back to the business. She currently runs KayOss from her Central West End apartment in St. Louis.
She said while having to go onto Gerson and getting diagnosed with cancer wasn’t part of her plan, it changed her life for the better. She said she wants to share the therapy with others because it helped her take control of her life.
“It’s not something I would choose, but its something that changed my life for the better,” Johnson said. “I basically rebirthed my body and I learned a lot by going through it.”