Column: There Are Many Paths to Wellness

By Julia Chiappetta

Every March, I produce the Annie Appleseed Project – Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Cancer Therapies Conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. As a member of their advisory board, I was led to come alongside the founder to donate my meeting planning expertise in the coordination of such a worthy and unique event that helps them convey their mantra–There Are Many Paths to Wellness.

The Annie Appleseed Project is a nonprofit, geared towards providing information and advocacy on natural strategies to reduce risk of occurrence, risk of recurrence and risk of treatment toxicities. The annual conference is where cancer experts from around the globe come to share and challenge the audience to make informed treatment decisions. It is also the only conference where you will find a truly healthy menu of organic, vegan/vegetarian, mostly gluten-free food choices, a juice bar with produce donated from local farms & bona fide vegan chef juicing each morning, alkaline water units hooked up in the hotel kitchen for drinking & cooking, purified air in the meeting rooms, a mini Wellness & Consult Room, direct access to scientists, doctors and practitioners, cutting-edge exhibitors, one on ones with the top cancer clinics in the world and a lot of amazing networking. 

When I first learned of my cancer, eighteen years ago, this was one of the only online resources that helped in my quest to navigate the maze of alternative medicine. I indulged in their vast library of abstracts, studies, personal testimonies, while feeling connected to the bold, new world of alternative, natural treatment options back in the year 2000, when such was scarce. A few years later I reached out to the founder Ann Fonfa and we quickly became friends, sharing our respective journeys.   It was then that I knew in my heart that God was nudging me to help her funnel this valuable information to the world; to bring education & hope to those crying out for help.    

A few weeks ago, dozens of global cancer experts gathered to hold court for 3 days of teaching sessions and to motivate the audience of hundreds of cancer patients, survivors and advocates. They taught about many new and some tried and true therapies/modalities, available to help combat cancer and how to unleash the body’s own healing ability to achieve healthy and happy outcomes.    

One speaker, Carolyn Guilford, Nutritionist & Wellness Coach, stated “to achieve healing in the stressful state of fear and uncertainty is very difficult, if not impossible, and that this first step is often overlooked as a consideration.”  Her talk “Burn the Past” depicted her story of devastation and loss which unfolded into marvelous success.  She said that after a diagnosis of cancer, or any life threating disease, the first question most persons will ask is “what do I do now?”  This conference teaches that careful consideration of the answers to that question will set the stage for the best outcomes.  Rushing to treatment without research, thoughtful contemplation or seeking second or even third opinions can add additional layers of stress, fear and often a sense of hopelessness.  It is best to pause, when everything around you is chaotic and just consider every available option before making a final decision.  In nearly every case, time is on your side…to take.   

The host hotel Embassy Suites by Hilton Hotel on Belvedere Road in West Palm became a sanctuary for an intensive 3 days of life-changing experiences. Vendors were plentiful and offered amazing products, treatments, samples and knowledge. From herbs, supplements, apricot kernels, tonics, extracts, oxygenated alkaline water, natural make up, massage treatments, pain & inflammation products, healing arts & jewelry, vegan food products, aluminum-free crystal deodorant, mini infrared saunas and mats, to consults with some of the world’s best doctors.   

The food is the piece de resistance – all organic, mostly vegan and beautifully presented by the hotel chef, who generously creates around some of my own menus and those that he has perfected. Having a hotel chef change his entire kitchen for a conference is a rarity and for that, all who attended were extremely grateful as they enjoyed the high-nutrient, healthy, delicious food.   

Under that one roof was an explosion of energy, enthusiasm, education and endearment. It allowed attendees a short cut, to walk the many paths of wellness. It was where strong bonds were formed, hearts aligned and where everyone left knowing … we are all in this together.   

As always, please try a nice, organic green drink this week. Perhaps grab some spinach, cucumbers, lemons, ginger and a bit of green apple, for a powerful punch.  I invite you to listen for the birds chirping in the early morning…they are back!  Consider extending a hand to someone you don’t know or someone in your backyard and please find the simple joy that Resurrection Sunday brings, because of The Risen King, Jesus, who died for all of us.

Julia Chiappetta is the author of “Breast Cancer: The Notebook” (Gemini Media, 2006) and is also the owner of Julia Chiappetta Consulting. She lives in Cos Cob.

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