02 July 2012

The Wellness Warrior

Jess Ainscough’s transformation from self confessed, twenty something “champagne-guzzling, Lean Cuisine-loving magazine writer to all-out nutrition nerd” was made after she was diagnosed with a rare, “incurable” cancer back in 2008. This week, full of beans, Jess shares her remarkable story. 

It is a challenging story. Medical treatment is declined, self-healing comes to the fore. There is total commitment, nutrition is taken to the limit, and the capacity to find meaning and joy amidst real adversity is revealed. But first:

Thought for the day

If you want something you have never had, 
then you are going to have to do something that you have never done.
                                                                                                                    Drina Reed

Some months back, when I was eating out with members of the family at one of Melbourne’s great vegan restaurants, Yong Green Food, I was approached by a vibrant young woman and her equally healthy boyfriend. It turned out to be the remarkable Jess and she was celebrating coming off the Gerson Therapy.

After her diagnosis, Jess had “decided I was not having a bar of that “incurable” nonsense, and I took responsibility for my condition”. Jess came to the Foundation’s residential program and then completed two years of Gerson Therapy.

These days Jess is a writer, holistic health coach, and the creator of the excellent health and wellness website, The Wellness Warrior  which I highly recommend. Via her e-books, daily blog posts, and videos, Jess’ goal is to empower people to take control of their health and to show that the quality of our lives is directly linked to how we treat our body and mind.

Here Jess shares her story.

What Cancer Has Taught Me – by Jess Ainscough, the Wellness Warrior

For the past four years, I have been living with the knowledge that I have cancer in my body. Like anyone who has ever been given a terminal diagnosis, this experience has changed me. I have gone through the usual changes – life becoming that little bit more precious, petty drama becoming totally insignificant, and priorities being completely reshuffled. However, there has been so much more.

Before cancer I was a big meat eater, now I am vegan. Before cancer I drank a lot of alcohol, now I am sober. Before cancer I was self-critical and full of self-judgment, now I love myself unconditionally. Before cancer I associated the disease with pain, sickness, hair loss and death. Now, cancer is my greatest teacher, my guru, and the catalyst that lead me onto a path far brighter and more fulfilling than I ever knew was possible.

I was one of the lucky ones – conventional medicine had no answers for me. My doctors wanted to amputate my arm to remove the cancer, but they said there was a high chance that the disease would come back somewhere else in my body quite rapidly. I decided that this wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t ready to die, I wasn’t willing to be an amputee, and I wasn’t willing to hand my power over to some people who didn’t really know what they were doing with it.

So I became one of those difficult patients and started thinking for myself. I researched anything and everything to do with healing cancer, and what I discovered is that our bodies have this incredible ability to self heal – as long as we provide the right environment for them to do so.

The first stop on my healing path was The Gawler Foundation. My boyfriend and I spent 10 days soaking up every bit of wisdom and comfort we could at the Life and Living retreat. We learnt how to meditate and how to express our emotions in a healthy way. But most importantly, we learnt that cancer does not need to be scary. It can be empowering, and the catalyst to an amazing life.

The other healing modality that resonated most with me was Gerson Therapy, so a few months after Gawler, I flew to Mexico with my mum to spend three weeks at the Gerson clinic. Here, I learnt how to implement the therapy, which involves hourly juicing, a specific vegan diet, various supplements, and up to five daily coffee enemas.

When the three weeks was up, I came home to carry out the Therapy for two years with the help of my family. For two years I dedicated every waking hour to saving my own life. To thriving against the face of adversity, and carving a new reality for myself based on the wisdom and inspiration I’ve gathered along the way.

It has been far from easy. For two whole years I have not been able to go out for lunch, go out for dinner, go out drinking with my friends, or even sit through a whole movie without having to get up and make a juice. But I would not trade one moment of this journey for anything. The power, wisdom, and deep self-respect that have been born of riding out these challenges is something I feel incredibly blessed to have.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I thought I had something in my body that needed to be “killed”, “eradicated” and “beaten”. Now I understand that cancer is not the enemy. I have realised that you cannot wage a war against yourself and win. No one wins when you go into battle with something that is part of you. And contrary to conventional belief, cancer is a part of you.

Cancer doesn’t need to be “killed”; it needs to be “healed”. Cancer is simply your body’s way of giving you one final opportunity to clean up your health.
I have completed two years of Gerson, but healing doesn’t end now. Healing is ongoing, and I will live the rest of my life being as kind and respectful as I possibly can to my body.

Even now, after two years of intense natural treatment, I cannot say that I am cured. I’m not sure if I will ever be “cured”, but I will always be healing. Cancer is something I will always manage with my clean lifestyle.

I don’t plan to have any scans, partly because I don’t want to subject my body to the poison and radiation, but also because prior to my diagnosis scans were not detecting that I had cancer. Only a biopsy did this, so I don’t really see the point.

Many people think I’m crazy for not “checking up” on the status of my condition, and once upon a time I would have agreed. My path is not the right one for everyone, but it is right for me. The moment I stopped struggling, and fighting against myself and the cancer, was the moment that fear left my mind for good. Now, I never fear that I will die of cancer – and that is the most empowering feeling ever.

The number one thing I have learnt over the past four years is that our bodies heal in their own time. Sure, it is our job to do whatever we can to make sure this is possible, but we can’t force anything. Our bodies are incredible, and as long as we listen to them – truly listen to them – give them what they need to heal and remove any obstacles that will prevent the process from happening, healing is inevitable. Healing is possible for all of us.

Connect with Jess on …

Twitter: twitter.com/#!/JessAinscough

Facebook: facebook.com/thewellnesswarrior

Website: thewellnesswarrior.com.au


1. Overseas travels

Ruth and I will be in Russia, Israel and France over the next months for a combination of presentations, holiday and retreat. The winter being in full swing at home, it is a good time to be heading for the warm side of the planet. The garden is in winter hibernation, we have a house sitter looking after things and after a full on year so far, it feels timely to be having some time away.

People aware of the trip have been encouraging me to write more personally in the blog as we are going to such interesting places and will be meeting with interesting people, so maybe I will.


Eating for recovery - this blog presents the recommendations I offer to people with cancer, based on 30 years of experience working directly with people who have taken the nutrition seriously, as well as the available research


  1. Thanks for this Ian. I've recently become aware of Jess's blog which is wonderful. She has a beautiful and powerful message.

    Have a gorgeous time away - I'm a little envious you escaping the winter chills!


  2. Jess is truly inspiring, and her story really resonates with me and touches my heart.

    Thank you for sharing and featuring her wonderful story here. :) x

  3. Love this! I am currently 2 years being treated for "incurable" breast cancer. I have been followingKris Carr's healing diet and feel great. While I am being treated with conventional medicine, the Dr.'s are some what surprised how well I am doing. My scans are clear:)... I attribute a lot of it to my new lifestyle. Thank you, I have learned a lot from you girls.

  4. I haven't heard of The Wellness Warrior so will be off to read. Hope you both have an amazing time on your travels.. xo

  5. Jessie was my inspiration and I follow some of the therapy ideas, Jessie promoted. Just to keep the body as healthy as possible. I have for a long time beleived you could prevent disease by having a healthy lifestyle and by eating certain foods can cure a lot disease. I myself will never have radiation or chemo. I will go hard and follow the strict lifestyle like Jessie did. If something is terminal what you got to loose. What quality of life have you got with chemo, as far as I am concerned your only putting chemicals into your body as with radition and feeding the cancer. The conventional treatment is a multi $ billion business why would they want u to get well by using natural treatment. The 8 years Jessie battled cancer, was she ever in and out of Hospital sick etc. No she wasn't, she had 71/2 yrs of quality I'd rather that than to be miserable a fair bit of the time.