Photography by Jamison Mosley
Be a Part of the Cure Walk at War Memorial Stadium is an opportunity for cancer patients, survivors and friends to join in solidarity and share experiences. Every story is unique and a valuable resource to fellow Arkansans. Angie Choi, assistant professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, reflects on her remarkable journey.
In 2021, Angie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was an unexpected back injury that revealed the tumor. “My back pain was so intense,” she recalls. “I got an MRI that showed a tumor the size of a grapefruit on my left ovary.” After a radical hysterectomy, she learned the tumor was cancerous. “My oncologist recommended six rounds of treatment with a 35% chance of my cancer returning.”
During her recovery, Angie spent time meditating and had what she describes as an intuition. She was concerned about the long-term effects of chemotherapy. “My body is really sensitive to all kinds of things. I can’t even handle MSG in my food, so I really wanted to avoid chemo if at all possible.”Choi discovered research by Dr. Thomas Seyfried at Boston College and German physiologist Dr. Otto Warburg about a metabolic approach. While healthy cells produce energy using oxygen, cancer cells produce energy through fermentation. Therefore, cutting off a cancer cell’s fuel source starves it. Angie realized that a therapeutic ketogenic diet offered the greatest potential to starve cancer cells of their primary fuels through a diet of high fat, moderate protein and very low carbohydrates. “My new meal plan consisted of 70% healthy, unsaturated fats like olives, avocados, and eggs. Then, 20% of every meal was a protein like sardines or mackerel and 10% of every meal was carbs like cruciferous vegetables.”
Angie also came across research from Oklahoma State University about an antiparasitic medication responsible for shrinking tumors in mice called fenbendazole, a commonly used dog de-wormer drug. Angie decided to combine it with her ketogenic diet. Her cancer antigen levels were in the mid-200s post-surgery. After just five weeks of the metabolic approach, her numbers went down to 14, which is within the normal range.
Understanding that some individuals may opt for standard treatments instead, Angie is quick to emphasize that each person should research all options. “If people are looking for complementary approaches to healing from cancer, there are things they can do besides the standard of care, but it is a personal decision.” She reflects on her experience in a book Whole New Me: Healing From Cancer in Body, Mind, and Spirit.
Angie hopes her journey will help guide others faced with a cancer diagnosis and will encourage consideration of improving overall wellness as part of any plan. “I had neglected my body. I had a strong mental pattern of saying no to the world because I was more focused on my spiritual life,” she notes of her revelation during recovery. “I realized through deep reflection that the body must also be honored too. Body, mind and soul are connected; the mind is a powerful part of the healing process.”
Angie’s story and Be a Part of the Cure Walk share the same message: to reduce the burden of a cancer diagnosis and provide necessary tools for wellness. Proceeds support research, clinical trials and survival studies at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. “This walk helps survivors and their caregivers come together. Community is such a huge part of the healing process,” Angie explains. “You depend on friends and relationships to bolster you to feel better. You’re connected to other survivors in heart and in body.”