02/13/2011 08:47 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Startling Reports on Cancer Costs

The news about the National Cancer Institute study on cancer costs was pretty sobering, wasn't it?

The NCI study says that the cost of treating cancer patients is expected to leap 66 percent by the end of the decade. According to the study, costs will rise by at least 27 percent by 2020 and could rise at nearly three times that rate because of rising medical costs and the increasing number of people reaching ages where they are more susceptible to cancer.

My contention is that people don't need to inevitably get more susceptible to cancer. In fact, I believe that with some simple changes, they can make their bodies less susceptible to all kinds of illnesses.

I'm not a doctor. Let me make that clear. But I would consider myself an expert in the cancer realm. I survived bone cancer when I was a 33-year-old mom (and had my leg amputated as a result). Eight years later, I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

I did everything most people do with that news. I had surgery, chemo and radiation, and when I was all done with it, my doctors looked at me sadly and said the cancer would be back within a year.

It was bleak and depressing and I had very little hope for a while there. And then, extremely fortuitously, I was told about how a plant-based diet might help me. I wanted to live, so I embraced this idea. I replaced everything junky that I was eating -- and there was plenty -- with a diet based on whole grains, beans and vegetables.

And I started to improve. Back when I started, I was desperate to do anything that might help, so I took a leap of faith. But then I started reading everything I could and found that there was a some science to back up what I was witnessing first hand.

President Bill Clinton announced last fall that he has been following a plant-based diet, on the advice of his doctors, and that he has greatly reduced his cholesterol, heart problems and weight as a result.

This healthier way of eating is catching on. I believe -- and I'm not alone -- that this IS the answer to our health crisis. Only if people start listening and making some basic dietary changes will we be able to alter the grim statistics. I am hopeful that we, as a nation, CAN do something to turn these projections around.

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