Q&A with John Teller*
John Teller*, age 65, is an avid hiker and traveler, part of the U.S. Marine Corps in his youth, and was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the early 2000’s. Disappointed in the results he saw from a few cancer removal attempts with radiation and surgery, and after the cancer came back time and again, John decided to take a total body approach and effectively “starve the cancer.” This is his journey.
Tell us a little about yourself. You have always been active, correct?
I don’t consider myself to be an athlete at all, just a pretty healthy old guy.
How did you originally find out that you had prostate cancer?
I had some minor incontinence issues, when I was 50 years young, so I went to see a urologist. He told me it was probably age-related prostate difficulty. I asked him if I could have a PSA test, and he told me I didn’t need to start checking that until I was 55. I insisted and he approved the blood test. When it came back a little high, he downplayed it again, however he agreed to a “free PSA” test. It came back high as well.
What did your doctor recommend?
He recommended an ultrasound with a “needle biopsy” of any suspect areas. I agreed, not knowing any better. He was the expert, after all. (Big Mistake) When the results came back positive for cancer, he recommended a radical prostatectomy with nerve sparing surgery, which I agreed to.
Approximately five years later, my PSA began to rise again. I was seeing a different urologist at this time because I had moved into the city. He recommended radiation and hormone therapy performed at the same time, which I agreed to. (Another Big Mistake) It took me about 5 years to recover from that trauma. Then, my PSA began to rise yet again. I knew then, that it was not going to go away.
What made you think to go outside the traditional cancer treatments?
I went to my local book store to look for a book on the process of dying. I wanted to find out how my body would shut down at the end. Instead I found a book by Dr. Patrick Quillin, Beating Cancer With Nutrition. In his book he said that, “Cancer was an obligate glucose metabolizer, Sugar Feeder.” That was when “Everything Changed.”
You used a radical diet change, along with regular exercise and stress management to heal naturally. Can you describe those changes?
I immediately eliminated refined sugar from my life, PERIOD. I also began following some of the other suggestions in Dr. Quillin’s book and began getting regular PSA tests. I began to notice that certain foods made my PSA rise and when I quit eating them my PSA would drop back down. That is when I turned myself into a science experiment. (I like to call myself a lab rat.) I developed my own theory, “Starve the cancer cells and boost my immune system.” That is what I have been doing ever since. Recently, I discovered that high stress at work doubled my PSA score. So, I got a different job. Guess what? My PSA dropped back to where it was before. Now I am really hard-core. No more simple carbohydrates. I only eat complex carbohydrates (mostly dark green organic veggies and dark berries), organic chicken breasts, and organic raw eggs, with Alaska sockeye salmon as an alternate. I also juice my veggies and experiment with various supplements, like curcumin (contained within turmeric), astaxanthin, and other anti-oxidants. I also use pure flaxseed oil without the lignans.
Was this new lifestyle tough to stick to?
At first it was. Now it has become an obsession. I am determined to control my cancer; it will not control me. I eat to live and no longer live to eat. My diet is the same, day after day. Pretty boring, really.
Why do you think it is so important to look at disease holistically, as opposed to just problem and solution?
I believe that everyone is fighting disease constantly. The immune system never sleeps. It is important to keep it as strong as possible. Plus, there is more to it than just diet and exercise. There is attitude and a will to live.
What gave you the strength to fight so hard to change your life?
Along with attitude and a will to live, I believe it important to have an “ally,” a partner who supports your journey — and you their journey.
You have always been an active guy - how did your cancer affect that?
The cancer did not affect my exercise program, hiking, yoga, walking; however the radiation and hormone therapy sure did. It was devastating to my endurance and strength. That was a long recovery for me.
If you could give fellow cancer fighters and survivors advice, what would it be?
“Starve the cancer, strengthen the immune system, reduce/manage stress, and change your attitude.”
Anything else you want to add?
Cancer is an illness like any other. It is caused by host of carcinogens and life stresses that have surpassed your body’s ability to control it.
*Name has been changed on request from the writer
John has been a cancer fighter for 15 years. He enjoys music, hiking, traveling, and was in the US Marine Corps in the ‘70s.
For more about John and his journey, read the New York Times bestseller Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds, by Kelly A. Turner Ph.D.