Suzanna Brabant/For the Times Julie and Rex Clement spoke about their experience with the Gerson Therapy for cancer on Saturday morning at Vision 2020’s Step Back in Time Shop, during the Folk Medicine Festival.

Suzanna Brabant/For the Times

Julie and Rex Clement spoke about their experience with the Gerson Therapy for cancer on Saturday morning at Vision 2020’s Step Back in Time Shop, during the Folk Medicine Festival.

Rex Clement's testicular cancer diagnosis was thought to be a death sentence, but nearly 24 years later, he continues to live his life unaffected by the disease.

At the time, Clement opted out of chemotherapy and traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, to begin the Gerson Therapy, a nutrition-based alternative he credits with helping him survive.

"Gerson Therapy is a very intense nutritional therapy that really is designed to cause the immune system to kick into high gear," Rex Clement said. "My wife Julie started immediately with research after the diagnosis, and we ran across several different therapies with roots in it."

The method was developed by Dr. Max Gerson, who practiced medicine from the 1930s through the 1960s and published a book presenting the results of 50 cases involving the therapy.

"There are three facets of it," Julie Clement said. "It's all organic, regrown food and juices. You can't eat anything frozen, canned, non-organic, no meats, nuts or beans. It's pretty much all vegetable and fruit-based, and organic oats are allowed in the morning for oatmeal."

The diet is aided by detoxification and daily supplements, including potassium salts with every drink, vitamin B12 injections and liver shots.

"While I was in Mexico (for two and a half weeks), we learned how to do the therapy correctly, and I think it was a really good experience for us that way," Rex Clement said. "It's a big adjustment. We would juice about 60 pounds worth of carrots a week, and I would drink the vast majority of that juice. Potatoes, I would eat as many as six a day like a snack food to maintain my weight. We went through an unbelievable amount of lettuce and would have a semi-truck pull up to our door every other week."

By April 1996, Clement's cancer had entered remission, though the couple continued the therapy for a few years afterward.

"For a number of years, we went back and had tests to make sure the cancer was gone completely," Julie Clement said. "It's stayed gone, and that's been 23-24 years. The cool thing is the fact that we did something positive for his body to build up his immune system instead of tearing it down with poison and radiation. Chemotherapy can cause permanent damage to other organs."

Since then, the Clements have talked with other families going through cancer about their experience with Gerson Therapy, and most recently, they shared their story at the Folk Medicine Festival in Red Boiling Springs on Saturday.

"We want to help people, and we want to tell our story," Rex Clement said. "When somebody is diagnosed with cancer, it's a scary thing, especially if they're diagnosed with a cancer like mine, which was considered a wildfire. When they talk to us, we can offer hope to them, that there's an alternative to chemotherapy."

Although the Clements had a positive experience with the therapy, they make it a point to emphasize how challenging it can be.

"We don't sugarcoat it ... it's a difficult therapy to do," Rex Clement said. "It takes a lot of time, and it takes a complete and total mindset change. I was a guy who liked the standard American diet. I liked my chocolate chip cookies and milk, and I liked my meat with every meal. I liked to drink coffee, and all of those things had to go."

Julie Clement said that the therapy has also shown more effectiveness on some types of cancer than others.

"There's a kind of leukemia (it doesn't help as much with), and it doesn't work well on cancers that have metastasized to the brain," Julie Clement said. "But it works especially well on melanoma unless it has, and does well on breast, prostate, testicular and a number of other cancers."

She added that institutes licensed to practice the Gerson Therapy will inform people based on their medical records whether they believe it will be effective.

"I love telling the story, because it's one of hope, and it's a viable option for people that don't want to do the traditional medical treatment," Julie Clement said. "We realize it's not for everybody. We just feel like God blessed us so much and healed Rex's body through the Gerson Therapy. It just happens to be one of the few subjects I know a lot about. When you live it and breathe it, you kind of get to be an expert."

Julie Clement made lifestyle changes along with her husband to help him get through the process, and the couple continues to focus on nutrition more than 20 years since they last followed the method.

"Gerson Therapy is very difficult to do all on your own," Rex Clement said. "But when I was doing the therapy, I went to work every day, felt good, had all the energy I needed and was able to come home and be a father to three children and a husband."