PORT TAMPA – George Tenety is in a fight for his life.
But this fighter’s strict regimen doesn’t include hitting the heavy bag. Instead, he drinks, and drinks, and drinks – a total of 13 glasses of freshly squeezed organic juice every hour.
The 39-year-old business owner seldom leaves the Port Tampa home that he shares with his wife, Shannon, 38, and their 3-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Another daughter is due in December.
“If friends want to hang out with me, they have to do it here,” said Tenety, who is battling Stage 4 colon cancer using nontraditional Gerson Therapy after chemotherapy treatments had not worked.
“They basically told me ‘There is nothing more that we can do,’” said Tenety, as he sat on his living room. The battle for his life began in summer 2011, and last month it took him to Mexico.
Gerson Therapy, developed by Dr. Max Gerson in the 1930s, uses the body’s natural ability to heal itself through an organic, vegetarian diet, including raw juices, coffee enemas and natural supplements.
For Tenety, he consumes 17 pounds of fresh organic food made into eight-ounce juice drinks each day, and eats three specially prepared vegetarian meals, has five detoxing treatments and follows a protocol of a variety of supplements.
“The Gerson Therapy is based on the premise that people are nutrient deficient,” said Tenety. “It treats the root cause.”
That claim, however, is debatable.
According to the American Cancer Society website: “Available scientific evidence does not support claims that Gerson Therapy is effective in treating cancer, and the principles behind it are not widely accepted by the scientific and medical communities.”
Others in the field of cancer research have suggested that it should be considered for properly administered clinical trials, noting that some reports from patients have indicated some patients have lived longer using it.
As for Tenety, both he and his wife feel that the treatment, not offered in the United States, is the right thing for him.
“It’s mind, body and spirit,” Tenety said. “ I feel like I am on the right path; I believe in it and I feel good about what I am doing.”
His wife agrees.
“Three years ago, I would have thought he was crazy,” said Shannon Tenety, from a hospital bed where doctors are monitoring her pregnancy in hopes of avoiding a premature birth. “I have totally supported him.”
Tenety’s cancer was discovered when he started having stomach pains. A CT scan showed a mass and he had immediate surgery. He underwent chemotherapy locally and out of state, but another inoperable tumor appeared. It then spread to a lung.
He had begun research on alternative therapies, which led him to the Northern Baha Gerson Center in Mexico for two weeks. Insurance didn’t cover any expenses involved for the trip nor does it assist with the at-home treatments, which could last as long as two years.
The couple had to buy a separate refrigerator and food costs are more than a $1,000 a month, in addition to supplements that can be $50 to $100 more a bottle.
Many friends have contributed to a fundraising website and others helped organize garage sales and a night at a pub. A group in London is having a race to help.
“When we started fundraising, every time a donation came in it brought us to tears,” said Shannon Tenety, who works as a pharmaceutical representative. “Grammar school friends he hasn’t seen since then; friends of friends; co-workers. It has left us speechless.”
Tenety owns a business, SportsGrit, a social networking company where an athlete can build a sports resume and be connected to others. He has been able to continue to work on it some from home.
“And it has helped me get through, get focused,” said Tenety, a member The Sports Club of Tampa.
So far, Tenety said his blood counts have improved using the treatments. He will have a CT scan in about a month and see if they have shrunk or eliminated the tumor.
“If it comes back and there is nothing there, it will be biggest party of all time,” he said.