ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- According to the Cancer Project, numerous studies show that cancer is much more common in countries where people eat fatty foods like meat, and much less common in places that consume fruits and vegetables. We spoke with a local cancer survivor who has dramatically altered her diet because of similar research.
Ann Blee is a breast cancer survivor.
"It did develop quickly and it was an aggressive form of cancer it was a grade 3," said Blee.
That was nearly four years ago. But it only took her a month after her diagnosis to drastically change her diet.
"Christmas Eve was my last piece of meat. I sat down at a steak house in Chicago with my husband and at that point I said no more. I had been a vegetarian and then changed to a vegan ever since then," explained Blee.
Blee now helps other cancer survivors as the program director with Healing Pathways Cancer Resource Center. Part of the non-profit support group includes a nutrition class that teaches people how to cook using a plant-based diet.
"There's a study that did a wide group of people; they found out that women who were vegetarians, and they weren't even as strict about the fat, but who were low-fat vegetarians, actually had a 40 percent greater survivorship chance," said Blee.
The research shows eating healthier can reverse conditions like heart disease, diabetes, even cancer. But sometimes it's easier said than done. Living the healthy lifestyle can be costly.
But Blee said, "I think I'm worth it and I'm not buying a box of cookies and I'm not spending $10 and $12 on a big roast. So if I spend an extra dollar on fresh strawberries or organic kale it all works out. And I don't take over-the-counter medications much and you're not going to the doctor as much so to me it equals out."
If you want to get involved with Healing Pathways.. the group meets several times a week in the basement of the Westminster Presbyterian Church at 2821 N. Bell School Rd. in Rockford. The center is open on Tuesday and Thursday at 10 a.m.
Healing Pathways offers all kinds of free classes for anyone who's been touched by cancer, including family members.
For more information, call 815-395-5649.