ALISON GANNETT is a self-sufficient farmer, World Champion Extreme FreeSkier, pro mountain biker, award-winning global cooling consultant, and founder of the multiple non-profits, including Save Our Snow
In addition to her busy careers as an athlete, athlete ambassador and keynote speaking, she runs her KEEN Rippin Chix Camps – women’s steep skiing, biking and surf camps around the globe. She adores inspiring others through her speaking – adrenaline-filled ski movies, worldwide glacial recession documentation, reluctant farming, solutions and failures for global cooling, and cooking to conquer cancer.
She has appeared in many movies, TV shows, and Magazines receiving many awards for her work: Ski Magazine’s Ski Hero of the Year, National Geographic’s Woman Adventurer of the Year, Big Mtn Freeskiing Champion-Canada, South America+Japan, Powder Magazine’s “48 Greatest Skiers of All Time” Freeskier Magazine’s “FreeSkier of the Year” and Outside Magazine’s “Green All-Star of theYear” next to Leonardo DiCaprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Always an advocate of walking the talk, she has spent half a lifetime working to make the world a better place – designing/building the first straw home in a National Historic District, creating the world’s first solar SUV, fighting fracking for natural gas, and creating local food infrastructures. Over the past 15 year she has reduced her own personal carbon footprint/energy use by more than half, with her professional training as an energy including a quest to grow and raise all her own food. In 2010, she and her husband Jason bought Holy Terror Farm, eliminating her dependence completely on the grocery store from that moment onward.
In July 2013 Alison discovered a deadly baseball-sized malignant cancerous brain tumor. After an initial partial surgery, Alison has forgone traditional approaches and instead has used a ketogenic diet, DNA testing, and a new lifestyle to starve the remaining cancer and provide health to the rest of her body.
She uses 50-60 modern diagnostic blood tests monthly to make sure her health is constantly improving.
Cooking to Conquer Cancer
It was just another typical day for me in the winter of 2013, poising to jump off yet another cliff for yet another ski film crew. But something weird was happening, no matter how many times I scanned the landing, I had no depth perception and couldn’t tell if the rock was one foot high or fifty. Did I need glasses or was I getting wimpy? I told myself to buck up, and reminded myself that I was a World Champion Free Skier, and hurled myself off the lip.
It just seemed benign, but these strange phenomena were happening more and more. Mountain biking became problematic, then I forgot to board a plane for the biggest keynote speech of my life for Microsoft in Las Vegas. Then on June 28, I almost burned our farm house down while cooking bacon. My hubby rushed me to the ER, only to discover a baseball-sized terminal malignant tumor in my brain.
I was now faced with the biggest cliff I had ever had to jump off, or the biggest mountain to climb of my life. Statistics gave me less than a year with surgery, chemo, radiation and/or clinical trials. I wanted a long life, not a year of pain. Luckily right after a partially successful surgery, I found Dr. Nasha Winters of Optimal Terrain. She used over 60 blood chemistry tests, my entire DNA genome, tumor pathology and my health history to scientifically uncover the root causes of my cancer. It seemed too good to be true at the time, but I am a numbers geek and this appealed to me. I had nothing to lose.
Almost five years after that moment, I write this blog. Against all conventional medical odds, I am here. And not only am I alive, I am thriving. I’m back to jumping off cliffs on my skis and now I have a new added skill as an oncology diet coach, paying it forward to help others prevent and conquer cancer.
I’m asked all the time what caused my cancer, and what causes cancer in general. Dr. Nasha has a brilliant analogy that our bodies are like garden soil, which she called “the terrain”. If the soil or terrain is not nourished and healthy, all kinds of disease can thrive, and conversely keep it strong and vibrant and then disease can not take root. She has written a wonderful book, just out, called “The Metabolic Approach to Cancer”. It goes over in detail what I will try to summarize today.
She outlines ten major areas that can cause ill health, called the TerrainTen (TM) - 1.Blood Sugar and the Metabolic Theory of Cancer. 2. Toxic Load/Environmental Exposures. 3. Immune Function. 4. Inflammation/Oxidative Stress. 5. Biorhythms/Stress. 6. Hormone Balance. 7. Blood Circulation/Angiogenesis. 8. Mental/Emotional Well-Being. 9. Epigenetics (DNA)/Mitochondria. 10. Microbiome
Now every day, I look at clients blood chemistry, DNA and medical records to create a personalized eating plan to assist their metabolism in fighting cancer. Even better, I have many friends, family and clients that wish to prevent cancer from ever happening to them. If I can assist in even one person from having to go through what I went through….
While I will eventually write an entire book on my story, today I want to focus on the “Three I’s” - a great introductory concept of the big cancer drivers as written by the talented nutritionist Miriam Kalamian and her book “Keto for Cancer” - 1. Insulin Resistance. 2. Inflammation. 3. Immune System.
Starting with Insulin, to make a very long story short, cancer cells are metabolically inflexible - mostly only able to ferment simple sugars for energy, whereas healthy “normal” cells are able to use a more complex process of cellular metabolism to utilize a variety of fuel sources. Good blood tests to check a person’s sugar levels are fasting AM insulin, hemoglobin A1C, fasting serum glucose, and triglycerides. Dr. Nasha stresses the importance of having these in an “optimal” range for health, and not just “in range”. All my life I had thought that carbs and sugars from natural sources and in moderation were just fine, but it turned out that my blood sugars were quite high. Inadvertently in my quest to eat healthy and organic, I had all four of these markers well above optimal health ideals. This is also true of almost all my clients - whether they are trying to conquer or prevent cancer. Cronometer.com is a fantastic app to discover how many carbs one is eating in a day and how much sugar from hidden and known sources. Experts disagree on the ideal amount to prevent cancer, but I often hear eating less than 50-100 total carbs/day tossed around at symposiums. Those that I work with daily, and myself, aim for 20grams of total carbs daily.
Inflammation is a big subject and there are zillions of ways to track it. It can come from a multitude of sources such as sugars, grains, fruits, non-organic foods, smoking, lack of sleep, stress, unfiltered water, avoidance of blue light/electronic EMF’s, house and body products, molds, chemicals, allergies, hormone imbalances, thyroid imbalances and much more.
Thirdly, the immune system is very often out of balance or compromised. A healthy immune system would start with optimizing vitamin D3 levels, restoring microbiome function, eliminating viruses and parasites, fixing leaky gut, addressing allergies, and ultra healthy ranges of red blood cells, white blood cells, hematocrit, hemoglobin, neutrophil lymphocyte ratio, monocytes, and basophils,
So yes, I am way over simplifying here, but this is a great place for many people to start. Those with cancer should seriously think about adding Dr. Nasha as the conductor to their team of conventional and integrative/functional doctors, as no two people are alike and no two cancers are alike. Those wishing to tackle optimizing blood chemistry to prevent cancer should seek out a certified diet coach and an integrative/functional medicine practitioner that uses combine BOTH 23andme.com type DNA testing with the expression of that DNA in extensive lab testing.
As always prevention is key!