Jan Hansbrough, 61, has always liked vegetables.
As the price coordinator for the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Coursey Boulevard, she praises her co-workers and customers for choosing healthful foods.
“Even as a kid, I always loved eating vegetables. I used to eat two ears of corn on the cob for dinner,” she said.
Now, her enthusiasm and love of vegetables and healthy eating extends beyond her taste preferences.
She will be the first to tell you that eating more fruits and vegetables saved her life.
After a diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer — the most advanced stage of breast cancer — Hansbrough underwent treatment with surgery, aggressive radiation and chemotherapy. She also relied on a website, knowthecause.com, that promotes the theory that diet can cure or help prevent diseases such as cancer.
Doug Kaufmann, a television health talk show host and author of “The Fungus Link,” is the creator of the Phase One diet promoted on the website. His premise is that eliminating sugar and fungus foods, like mushrooms and peanuts which he says promote fungal overgrowth in the body, is the key to improving your health.
After discovering the website, Hansbrough recalled years ago when she had difficulty breeding a pet Arabian horse. The horse kept miscarrying. When she consulted a veterinarian medical textbook, it attributed the horse’s problem to a fungal infection.
“Recalling that incident with my horse, when I read the information on the website, it just all made sense,” she said. Hansborough said after her cancer diagnosis, she delved into the antifungal diet.
During chemotherapy, she would drive to Smoothie King and order high-protein shakes with no sugar.
“The smoothies were great for me, as sometimes during treatment you literally feel like you are on fire,” she said.
She would eat small snacks and would put lemon in her water for taste.
With her job at Walmart, having access to a well-stocked produce section made it easier to stick to the diet.
During the two years following her diagnosis, she followed the Phase One diet as closely as she could. She lost 86 pounds and began to feel stronger and more energetic.
“I used to love Community Coffee with Kleinpeter milk and sugar. I’m big on Louisiana brands. I had to switch to using stevia, which took some getting used to, but now, it’s fine,” she said.
Hansbrough is 61/2 years past her initial diagnosis and since she began following the diet, she hasn’t had any more trouble with sinusitis and migraine headaches, more positive side effects she attributes to the diet.
Hansbrough eschews using sauces or toppings for her vegetables and simply steams, bakes or broils them, adding freshly ground pepper and Himalayan sea salt to taste.
She will bring plain applesauce and almonds to work and snack on them throughout the day. For lunch, she’ll get a container of mixed greens and top it with olive oil and vinegar.
She has learned to modify some recipes that contain flour by using almond or coconut flour.
Lemons, oranges, grapefruit and limes are her fruits of choice.
“I eat a lot of eggs and stick with lean meats,” she said.
She gets her recipes from the “knowthecause” online cookbooks.
Hansbrough admits that she still indulges her vices every now and then. “I will cheat with a Hershey’s Almond bar.”
When she drinks an alcoholic beverage, her choice is vodka, but it’s made from grain rather than corn.
“Ninety percent of the time, I am eating right,” she said.
“I hate to say that I had to get breast cancer to get healthy, but that’s kind of what happened. I will stay on that diet for the rest of my life. I’m determined to live this life the best that I can. I do believe it’s by doing this and by the grace of God is why I am still here.”