by Shelli DeRobertis
Nearly 15 years ago, cancerstricken Leslie Kirchmeier, of Fallbrook, was frail, too thin, and could barely walk, until a raw foods diet turned her life around.
In the Summer of 2000, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 cervical cancer and underwent surgery to remove lymph nodes after a tumor was found to be too large to operate on.
She was in her mid-thirties, had a wonderful, supportive husband, and a teenage daughter at home. “I had a great attitude and wanted to see my daughter grow up and get married,” she said.
Kirchmeier followed the doctors’ advice to have surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
“This is what I thought I had to do,” she said. But it didn’t work. “The whole time I heard, I’m sorry, your tumor is not shrinking,” Kirchmeier said.
By Fall of that same year, her doctor’s advice had turned toward nutrition, and he told her to eat steak and drink Ensure, she said. “He told me to ‘make my food count,’ ” she said. “Instinctively, I went home and ate more nutrient-dense food.”
About that same time she said she was also involved in a women’s Bible study group, which is the first time anyone ever mentioned natural foods as a solution. “One girl at the table said she had a video of a doctor who ate a lot of carrots and got well,” she said.
That video was “Cancer Doesn’t Scare Me Anymore ” by Lorraine Day, M.D. At that time, DVDs were barely becoming the norm, and a raw food diet was almost unheard of, Kirchmeier said. “It was very different, very on the edge of being bizarre for most people,” she said.
She said she was accustomed to eating dessert each night, and referred to herself as a “sugar addict.” “I did not grow up eating healthy. I ate the standard American diet. I loved Coca Cola and Mountain Dew – all of that stuff,” she said. But that had to change.
It was October 2000, and Kirchmeier remembers the day she and her husband Steve discovered a Jimbo’s Natural Foods Grocer, because it was Steve’s birthday. “We found a Jimbo’s, bought a juicer and vegetables and came home and started juicing like crazy,” she said.
In her quest for natural healing, Kirchmeier had learned so far that juicing was like an intravenous vitamin that goes straight to the cells within 20 minutes and could nourish and help build an immune system. “It’s a natural form and your body knows how to recognize it and digest it,” she said. After about two weeks of Steve juicing carrots, celery, apples, leafy greens, cucumbers, beets, and whatever was left to the Kirchmeier’s imagination, Leslie began to feel better and regain her energy.
She continued drinking fresh juice, and had also discovered the Hallelujah Diet, which is an 85-percent raw and unprocessed plant-based food diet, with the rest consisting of cooked plant-based food. That diet is part of Hallelujah Acres, which was founded in 1992 by a preacher who had a large cancerous tumor in 1977 that he claims he beat by eating natural foods, according to the Hallelujah Diet website. Kirchmeier followed the diet and ate mainly raw foods, and began educating herself on the healing powers of natural foods.
By December 2000, her tumor was completely gone. “I thought, ‘oh, that was easy,’ ” she said. “I then thought I was good-to-go and went on vacation.” She didn’t bring her juicer on vacation, though, and strayed from the raw foods diet. She said she thought she only had to change her diet temporarily.
But in February 2001, a doctor visit revealed cancer cells were present where the tumor once was, and Kirchmeier was told she could not receive any more chemotherapy. “They said their toolbox was empty and there was nothing more they could do,” she said.
Kirchmeier said she knew very little about the healing power of foods back then, but that she had done research and came to the appointment geared with three questions:
1) Is it true that if I have an alkaline pH level that cancer cannot survive in my body?
2) Is it true that if I have a lot of oxygen in my body, that cancer cannot survive?
3) Is it true that cancer feeds on sugar?
Her oncologist answered “yes” to all three questions, she said.
Kirchmeier realized she would have to make a permanent lifestyle change in her diet. She said she knew that there were three things she needed to do to keep cancer from being able to survive, and they included eating more alkaline foods such as fruits and vegetables, exercising to get more oxygen and avoiding sugar and processed foods. “If its life or death, I can give up sugar,” she said.
Today, regular blood work continues to show Kirchmeier is free of cancer. In 2006, she, Steve and their daughter all became Health Ministers for Hallelujah Acres and began teaching raw food prep specialty classes in their home. They also hosted guests overnight or for a long-term stay at their “Lifestyle Retreat,” which was operated at their spacious home with many spare bedrooms. The Kirchmeiers educated about 600 people in the years they operated the center.