Ruth H

The Physicians Committee

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cooking healthy vegan food


Ruth H

Honolulu, HI
United States

What benefits have you found in a vegan diet? (Reduced pain, higher energy levels, weight loss, etc.)

There's been a lot of press lately given to exercise and the role it supposedly plays in preventing breast cancer. Every time I see this, I cringe because I know they are missing the boat in the prevention of breast cancer. I really believe that a vegan, low-fat diet is THE most critical factor in preventing this and most other diseases that we are prone to. All through junior and high school I was very active. I loved Physical Education, was the only girl on our high school swim team, won a diving championship when I was 17, did 20 sit-ups up to and including the day before delivering my son, and walked or rode a bike for most of my errands. At age 33 I started daily running and by 47, I was running marathons. So you can imagine my shock when I was then diagnosed with advanced, metastatic breast cancer! I went vegan and have been ever since -- 26 years now! But the regression of the breast cancer of my bones and lung was not the only benefit. My osteoarthritis disappeared and I was taken off the Naproxen that a rheumatologist had put me on 5 years prior. My bowels starting acting normal, not the "normal of 3 or 4 times a week for some people" that I was told by a proctologist. There were a number of other ailments that also disappeared within weeks. On top of all that, because I had been so fit, I continued my daily runs and added biking and swimming, and in 1984, became the first cancer patient to do the grueling Ironman Triathlon! I have since the done Ironman 6 times, won more than 900 first place trophies in marathons, triathlons, the pentathlon, and 6 gold medals in the Senior Olympics. At the age of 64, I was named "One of the Ten Fittest Women in North America" when the other nine were in their 20s and 30s.

How did you learn about a plant-based diet, and what motivated you to change your diet?

After an excisional biopsy did not get it all (the tumor was the size of a golf ball), I had a modified radical mastectomy but by that time, the cancer had spread to my bones and one lung. At that same time, John McDougall, MD, was conducting a clinical research study to show that a vegan, low-fat diet could reverse breast cancer. I had to agree to NOT have the chemo and radiation that was recommended and just make the dietary change. This was back in 1982 when this idea was considered very radical and I was told by my oncologist that "diet had nothing to do with your getting breast cancer." The research evidence that Dr. McDougall showed me convinced me otherwise! At my present age of 78, I'm still running, biking, and swimming daily, have had no recurrence of the cancer, am on NO drugs, and am about as healthy as a person can be! All due to my vegan diet! I have tried to spread the word through my website,, and my 3 books, A Race For Life, CHEF Cook/rawbook, and Senior Fitness. I also believe that this lifestyle of BOTH exercise AND the vegan diet are the best way to age with grace and energy!

How did the Physicians Committee influence your success? (21-Day Kickstart, Kickstart Plus, Food for Life class, lecture, etc)

By providing support and the opportunity to help spread the word.