Twenty-first century technology has paved the way for new approaches to treating diseases, like cancer.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy commonly are used to treat cancer today, but some patients decide to take more natural approaches to healing the body.
Hinesville native Richard Wege, 33, chose to try an old, natural approach to fighting cancer after he was diagnosed with liver cancer this year and was told he had about six months to live.
His doctors said he had only a 2 percent chance of survival when treated with chemotherapy, so he decided to go a different route. Wege undergoes Gerson therapy, a form of alternative cancer treatment involving a special diet to clean the body, boost the immune system and stimulate metabolism.
“They recommended chemo first, but he decided he didn’t want to have his last months here going for chemo,” said Richard Wege’s mother, Carol Wege, of Liberty County. “He didn’t want to be sick all the time and live like that when there was such a low chance of survival.”
The therapy was developed by Dr. Max Gerson in Germany during the mid-20th century, according to the Gerson Institute website. It is thought to improve health by decreasing the accumulation of toxic substances in the body so that it can fight off cancer.
“It is a natural approach to letting the body heal itself,” Carol Wege said. “He follows a strict diet.”
Her son’s therapy involves following a low-salt, low-fat, vegetarian diet. Patients following the therapy also drink a glass of juice made from fresh fruits and vegetables up to 13 times a day. The diet is thought to improve organ functions and enhance immune functions.
Scientific research does not prove the authenticity of the therapy’s ability to treat cancer, according to the Gerson Institute website, and treatment is not available in the United States. A Gerson Institute center in Mexico offers treatment to cancer patients, and that’s where Wege goes for his therapy.
Meanwhile, this isn’t Wege’s first time battling cancer. Five years ago, he was diagnosed with eye cancer, and the doctors cleared him after undergoing radiation therapy.
“To find out this year that Rick has cancer, again, was devastating,” said Ashely Dodd, a family friend who held a fundraiser for Wege at the McDonald’s on Highway 84, which her family owns.
Dodd grew up with Wege and can relate to what he is going through. Dodd’s father battled cancer for 11 years and passed away last year.
She hosted a fundraiser at McDonald’s Aug. 9 to build awareness for Wege’s struggle. A portion of all sales made during the fundraiser were donated to Wege to help him pay for his treatment.
Many people in the Hinesville community pulled together to help Wege. Xpress Signs donated yard signs, and Sherman Williams gave buckets for donations.
“My father always said it takes a village to raise a child,” Dodd said. “That village came out to support their child at the fundraiser. … That is why local support is so important.”
Wege, who attended school in Liberty County, moved to Australia after attending college. He currently lives there while he heals.
“The community has all been very generous and helpful during this time,” Carol Wege said. “We are so grateful for all they have done for our family.”