I never imagined I would even grow tomatoes on my patio, never mind becoming a serious gardener. At the age of 58 that all changed in dramatic fashion. I had been diagnosed with cancer in 2012. After conventional treatment failed, I tried something called Gerson Therapy which is a protocol to heal all kinds of serious diseases with intensive juicing, a clean organic diet and some targeted supplements. Over many months I drove to my nearest Whole Foods, which was still a few towns over and stocked 2 fridges every week with bags and bags of carrots, apples and all kinds of greens, most of which I had never heard of or even seen before. My first attempt at healing got me a clean CT scan and the cancer was gone for 14 months but I was derailed from Gerson Therapy when I had to return to work and faced other life challenges. Finally, at the age of 57, I had to leave work because of major surgery to remove cancer once and for all. Unfortunately, cancer had spread and I was onto 2 years of chemotherapy. The chemotherapy failed. My doctor said she had nothing else to offer me.
In 2020, I started building raised beds in the back yard to grow some of my own food. My first efforts were mediocre at best. Some micro greens came up and some lettuce. The beets I planted never came up. I wondered if this venture was worth my time and effort, but I persevered. With each growing season, I added beds and with each new bed came a little more success. I had to learn all about Ph, how to build healthy soil and start a compost pile. Thoughts of my grandmother Mimi, her gardening bench, her beautifully designed landscaping and HER compost pile spurred me on. I became a student of growing and YouTube became my classroom. My carrots went from 3 inches long to 6 inches long. My beets went from all greens and no beets to gorgeous, handball sized beets!
It was 2021 when my doctor stopped all chemo treatments and told me there was nothing left to do. I decided then that Gerson Therapy was my best shot for health and now I had time to devote to the demanding protocol. I started growing as much food as I was able to and pulled as much food as I could possibly pull from my beds to fuel my juicer. The normal Gerson Therapy program calls for 12 or 13, 8 ounce juices a DAY!! Because of undergoing chemotherapy, I was able to reduce the number of drinks to 8 a day. After about 8 days of juicing 5 or 6 pounds of fresh organic produce each day, I felt really sick, like I had the flu. This is normal and expected. Feeling like I have the flu is evidence of a “healing response” or a “healing reaction.” My tummy was hurting too because I hadn’t gradually built up to 8 juices a day, but had jumped head long in. I reduced the number of juices again to 6 cups, 48 ounces a day. I added some new supplements that I had been learning about and the next CT scan I had, just 3 months after stopping chemo, was completely clean!! I was so shocked by the report that I kept thinking that the name on the report was wrong. “This must be someone else’s report,” I kept thinking. I kept planting, I kept growing all kinds of beautiful produce, I kept harvesting and I kept drinking. The next CT scan was also clean and the next one after that and the next one after that. This simple and humble garden was healing my body in ways all the best medicine in the world could not. In fact, I am convinced my body has healed with food in spite of all the best medicine in the world. I have continued this protocol for more than two years now and am feeling stronger with each passing month. Unfortunately, chemo left me with severe neuropathy in my legs, but that too is improving and with 17 inch raised beds, gardening is fun and not a hardship.
You don’t have to have a cancer diagnosis to find your motivation to create your own healing garden. I no longer travel across 4 towns to Whole Foods or as some call it, “Whole Paycheck!” We know conventionally grown food is far less nutritious and can even be toxic. Since Covid, food prices have sky rocketed so while some of us resorted to baking others got down in the dirt, digging for a gold more precious than anything we can put in the bank. You might be twenty something. Amen! Start growing now and preserve your excellent health for decades to come. Or you may find yourself discovering more aches and pains. The doctor says you need to be on this drug and maybe that one too! I have decided that maintenance drugs are just that. They maintain your sick condition for years and years to come. Prescription drugs don’t heal. They rarely cure. Food heals and food cures! Our bodies are designed to run on food as fuel, so it makes sense that when our bodies break down or start to sputter, fresh, organic food is the answer we should seek. There’s nothing like walking into a dew drenched garden and reaching down and plucking a bright red, juicy strawberry off the vine and popping it in your mouth.
Gardening is even more than shopping in your back yard! From seed to a brilliant orange pepper, from seed to a gigantic Swiss Chard leaf running thick with red veins, from seed to an 8 pound pumpkin in time for autumn, it’s all miraculous! You will never tire of finding that strawberry hidden in the foliage. That’s the best kind of treasure hunt. Create your garden!!
----Photos from Lynn Ann Ford