Following a diagnosis in 2015 of an aggressive form of breast cancer, or Can’tcer as she refers to it, Tiah Tomlin-Harris, of Atlanta, Ga., had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. Not yet 40 years old at the time, she made an effort to live a more healthful lifestyle.
When the cancer reappeared in 2019, however, she redoubled her efforts by immediately adopting a whole foods plant-based diet, removing products that contain toxins or other dangerous chemicals from her home, and adding other complementary practices to her daily routine.
Tomlin-Harris, now age 45, credits her dietary shift to the success she’s had reducing the size of one tumor, riding her body of another, and preventing others from forming. She says, “It goes back to feeding cancer or fighting cancer and I believe, because of my experience, that this is what [a vegan] diet did for me. I have gone both ways. First, I tried the traditional route. I am not saying that it did not work because I am still here, but it did come back. This second time, I have tried a different way, and I am here, and I am whole. If you give the body what it needs and feed it what it needs, it will heal.”
Tomlin-Harris makes it clear that she is not anti-medicine. “I understand medicine and I understand science,” and she has an appreciation for what it can offer but to help prevent disease and help the body heal, she suggests, “making lifestyle changes to improve your quality of life and eating healthier will help you have better life outcomes.”
A strong faith has been a constant in Tomlin-Harris’s life, and she vowed that if she made it through cancer that she would help as many other women as she could fight and survive breast cancer, particularly Black women who have disproportionately higher recurrence and death rates and, often, less access to healing resources. She has kept that promise in spades by becoming a licensed Food for Life instructor, teaching people why and how to adopt a vegan lifestyle with delicious recipes, menus, and cooking demonstrations.
She co-founded My Style Matters, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides emotional and practical support for cancer patients and their caregivers; developed Breast Health Matters, an empowerment platform dedicated to educating, motivating, and activating teen girls and women to take control of their breast health; and graduated from the Project Lead Institute with the National Breast Cancer Coalition, where she expanded her knowledge about the science behind breast cancer, among other advocacy and leadership roles.
Leading up to Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Tomlin-Harris has hosted Food for Life classes, Introduction to How Foods Fight Cancer, and on Oct. 3, Cancer-Fighting Compounds and Healthy Weight Control. For more information or to register to attend virtually, visit https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/plant-based-diets/ffl/classes/134540