In 1993 when Ann Fonfa was first diagnosed with an early-stage, slow growing breast cancer, chemotherapy wasn’t an option. She was experiencing severe allergic reactions to chemicals, and doctors felt it would do more harm than good. Frustrated about the lack of alternative options, she started to gather a wealth of information on complimentary practices.
In 1999, her cancer returned. She woke up to shocking news after her mastectomy: her cancer had spread to her chest wall and was considered Stage IV. Instead of preparing to die, she decided to discover and share information she gathered with a little Web site she called the Annie Appleseed Project http://www.annieappleseedproject.org/ . Little did she know that 10 years later, her site would draw an average of 85,000 visitors a month.
As I mentioned before, I am fortunate to be able to attend her organization’s Complimentary and Alternative Therapies conference, Jan. 7-9 in West Palm Beach, FL. I spoke with Ann about the conference and learned more about her own amazing story, which will be included in my book. I was struck by her optimism and determination to not only save her own life, but to spread the message to others.
While carrying on her mission, Ann used a combination of herbs, vitamins and other holistic practices to induce healing. On September 12, 2001, she was told miraculous news: her MRI clearly showed she was cancer-free.
I went to see my doctor at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, which had been a trauma center for victims of the terrorist attacks. With all the tragedy happening, when I came in to receive my good news, everyone was excited. So my doctor announced to a crowd of people in the waiting room, “Here is a woman who is cancer-free!”
I went outside and started to cry because it really occurred to me that I was OK for the first time in so many years. Everyone came running up to me, saying, “We’ll be OK, don’t worry; we’ll survive.”
And meanwhile, I can see this flume of black smoke coming out of the Trade Center. We were only a few miles from it. I was crying because I was living, and everyone else was crying because someone died. It was a poignant experience.
Ann emphasizes that what worked for her won’t necessarily work for everyone. Her organization is a clearing house of information for people to explore options. I will share in later posts some of Annie Appleseed’s general recommendations. (A side note from me: always first consult with your doctor, especially if you’re currently in treatment.)
Ann does have a strong opinion about doctors who hand out “death sentences.”
One of the things I like least about the medical establishment is when a doctor says, “You have two months to live.” Someone just called to tell me their doctor said that. I told her, “Absolutely they can’t know, so don’t believe it. Don’t accept it! Spit on it! Stomp on it! Tell yourself, they’re wrong.”
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