POWER 9® PEOPLE
An ongoing series about people improving their well-being
Fort Worth is the largest certified Blue Zones Community® in the country. Each month we talk to a different member of our community and find out how they experience well-being in their neighborhood. This month’s featured guest is Olga Naranjo, certified public accountant, third-generation Texan, and community champion. When she got some devastating health news in 2020, Naranjo radically changed her diet and her outlook on health. Much of her health recovery involves Power 9 principles, including eating with a Plant Slant and Downshifting.
A: After the surgery, there was no evidence of cancer detected in the margins. I went to the doctor yearly, my tumor markers were good. I did not want to take tamoxifen (an oral chemotherapy) – I was told that I had 10 years to live since I did not do tamoxifen.
Q: You were essentially cancer-free for 16 years. But your cancer came back in 2020, and they called it metastatic cancer – breast cancer that’s moved to a different part of your body.
A: In retrospect, we think I got early COVID. There were nodules in my lungs, and in May 2020 those nodules showed growth. I was told the cancer metastasized to my lungs, and that even with intense chemotherapy, I had a 6- to 12-month life expectancy. The next morning, they gave me a palliative doctor and a therapist. The doctor said he would give me anything I wanted for pain. I wasn’t in pain.
Q: So you declined conventional medication and opted for a radical change in diet and life stressors.
A: Three of my family members died in 2019 of cancer, even with chemotherapy. I’m not attacking the cancer with conventional medicine but instead I have focused on finding the cause. Then I work at reversing all the bad habits that may awoken it to begin with. I found Lifeline Wellness Institute, which is a place to go and reverse disease.
Q: And a large part of their 14-day program were practical solutions like drinking an adequate amount of water, and eating plant-forward, mostly raw foods. What was your diet like before your transformation?
A: Before cancer I was a family-oriented Latina girl, and social gatherings and networking meetings meant eating out. It was meat as the main course and lots of desserts. We ate a lot of fast food several times a day. And the hardest part was giving up sugar.
Q: But it wasn’t just your diet. Talk about how you learned to use the Blue Zones Power 9 principle of Downshifting to relieve stress.
A: I was working 100-hour work weeks, and I had seven children. I needed the instant gratification of wanting what I wanted, sugar addiction, eating out. Everything social involves alcohol or food. I had to take time for me to honor my body and take care of myself.
A: I’m more mindful and very cognizant for prepping for a week in advance. Every Friday I create the menu for the week and shop on Saturday or Sunday. 100% of the menu is plant based and what I can make for four people. And 75% is raw fruits and veggies.
Q: How has your family dealt with the change in diet? You have seven kids, and two still live at home with you.
A: They were mindful about what they brought into the house. The true success is that the entire family jumped into it. The first six months we collectively lost nearly 200 pounds. I never realized I was transforming. I wasn’t looking at the mirror wanting a different body. I was looking at my plate.
Q: What do you hope that your testimony about plant-forward eating and mindfulness will do for other women?
A: If I could share a message with the community, especially to my Hispanic family, it’s that it is time for us to become mindful; we only have one temple. If we can deep dive into the cause, we can transform and extend lives. We need to honor the body as God meant it to be. It’s not a fad or a diet – it’s treating the body to what it needs. With nutrition, we may be able to prevent the disease from happening.
For more information about Blue Zones Project, visit LiveLongFortWorth.com