As a long-time pro-athlete and Osprey Ambassador, I was perplexed last year with strange balance issues while skiing and riding along with odd moments of memory loss. Being the overly tough person I am, I tossed it aside and continued playing and working, chocking it up to stress from ski and bike work travel, too much exercise/training, too much “trying-to-save-the-world”, and trying to run a self-reliant homestead on the side. On June 30th, 2013, after almost burning the house down while cooking one of our piggy’s bacon, my hubby rushed me to the Emergency room to find a giant brain tumor. After many weeks of discussing death, I suddenly realized I now had yet another mountain to climb, and maybe the biggest one to date.
After surgery to remove the giant baseball HemangioPeriCytoma, saving the blood flow to my brain and my life, I luckily had time to ponder how to conquer my tumors/cancer during recovery. They wanted the standard cut/radiate/poison “treatment”, but my internet research showed a 1-3% cure rate with this approach. The radiation would also most likely give me cancer in 10-20years. I now realize how fear sets in, as I actually considered this path out of pressure, despite the crappy success rate.
That goodness for the internet and great friends, as I have learned so much about what “alternatives” are actually out there. I quickly landed at the NamasteHealthCenter.com in Durango, Colorado at a women’s cancer retreat with folks from all over the globe searching for better cancer answers. How cool that OspreyPacks.com has this right next door to their corporate headquarters!
Long story short, the amazing folks there helped me dive into my blood work and DNA – working to find out the reasons I might have gotten cancer, and why I was currently “tumor-ing”. I could now write a dissertation on this, but in short, overuse of antibiotics as a child had damaged my gut and also my DNA through methylation. My blood inflammation markers showed that my vegan diet was causing super high blood sugar (both blood glucose and HgA1C) and very high inflammation (ESR,LDH,CRP). I was doing all the things that our USDA food pyramid said to do – low-fat, lots of whole grains, lots of fruits and veggies, but my blood was proof that this was not working.
Dr. Nasha Winters and Namaste showed me that cancer (and most disease) is fueled some simple things – sugars (including most fruits and grains turning into sugars), estrogen (from almost all plastics), environmental factors, and stress. All of these can damage my gut and my DNA. Good news is, they are all fixable! Even the methylated DNA!
I’m fourteen months into my Ketogenic Diet now – about 80% of my calories from fat, as cancer not only loves sugar, but it HATES FAT. I call it the one-two punch – deprive my cells of sugar and load them with fats, but good fats only! I use only homemade pastured lard and tallow, grass-fed butter/ghee, coconut oil, grass-fed raw heavy whipping cream, and unrefined/unfiltered/chem-free stonehouseoliveoil.com. Its taken me months to get used to dosing my food in these fats, but wow, what a change in my blood work. Side benefits include – great skin, no more colds or migraines, allergies almost gone, weight/fat loss, 6-pack, and no more bronchitis, yeast or bladder infections.
Every day I learn more about how this Ketogetnic diet can often prevent and conquer many diseases beyond cancer, including Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Epilepsy, MS, and Diabetes, while also bringing on the best health and athletic performance of one’s life. I don’t think of it as a diet anymore, as I LOVE The food, love how I feel and look, and love that my tumor is stunted and starving. Cancer may be the best thing that has ever happened to me, as it has helped my family get healthier and my diet can hopefully prevent the Alzheimers that runs in the family. More: ketogenic-diet-resource.com; Books – Keto Clarity and Grain-Brain. I’ve also started a Facebook page – Cooking to Conquer Cancer.
So right now we are busy harvesting all our food for the upcoming winter, today I was focusing on drying eggplant, zucchini and squash “noodles”, canning tomatoes, and curing peppers. The chickens are also going corn and soy free, and the cows are munching their ever-so-healthy salad bar of grasses. In many ways lifestyle is easier, as I don’t have to grow, thresh and winnow as many grains, stevia is easier to grow than raising bees, and raising saturated fats is WAY easier than even attempting olive oil!
I’m a lucky gal – no lasting damage to my memory or my body. I’m back on my bike, surfboard and skis – with a heap more balance than before, and WAY more appreciation for everything. Next I’m off to Moab next to teach my KEEN Rippin Chix Camps with OspreyPacks.com at Outerbike with Western Spirit. I’ve got a full schedule of my Steep Skiing Camps coming up this winter all over, including some of my favorites such as Whitewater, Red Mtn, Silverton, and Crystal. Time to go to bed, as sleep and stress reduction are also very important in my un-cancer-ing and new-found health.
ALISON GANNETT is a self-sufficient farmer, World Champion Extreme FreeSkier, pro mountain biker, award-winning global cooling consultant, and founder of the multiple non-profits. In addition to her busy careers as an athlete, athlete ambassador and keynote speaking, she runs her KEEN Rippin Chix Camps – women’s steep skiing, biking and surf camps around the globe, featuring Osprey Packs. She has starred in many movies, TV shows, and magazines receiving many awards for her work including National Geographic’s Woman Adventurer of the Year, Powder Magazine’s “48 Greatest Skiers of All Time” and Outside Magazine’s “Green All-Star of theYear” next to Leonardo DiCaprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Always an advocate of walking the talk, she has reduced her carbon footprint in half and has also spent half a lifetime working to make the world a better place. In 2010, she and her husband Jason bought Holy Terror Farm, beginning the next chapter of personal health and self-sustainability.
They said it was the storm of the century.
On Wednesday we watched the weather as it fell by the feet, crossing our fingers and hoping it would roll into Colorado. On Thursday, the storm blew east, dropping over a foot in 24 hours in the Colorado mountains. Powderhounds throughout the state rejoiced—us included, with reservation. We were stoked that the ski areas on I-70 were getting dumped on, but I-70 wasn’t our destination. Our sights were set southwest of Summit County, way southwest. So far southwest, in fact, that we would be closer to New Mexico than to Vail Pass.
Can you guess where we were headed? Silverton Mountain, Colorado.
The storm flirted with us. It was headed to Silverton, and then it wasn’t. And then it was. And then it stayed. And stormed. And stormed. And stormed.
The storm coated the roads and blocked the visibility and made us—a pack of women, of powder whores, of chicks—giddy with excitement. We threw our fattest skis and warmest coats in our cars and trucks, kissed our people goodbye, and drove into the blizzard. (more…)
Osprey Packs is a key partner in my KEEN Rippin Chix Mountain Bike Camps, shown here in Fruita at the Fat Tire Festival. Great event. Great riding, great people, great beer…
I could go on all day! While I could spend all my time off (which is almost none) riding, surfing, skiing and playing, I now teach these women’s camps almost year-round, and many times at least 2-4 days per week. It is rewarding beyond belief, and who doesn’t love giving back to the sports that give so much to our lives? I believe I would have almost zero confidence if I had not discovered skiing, biking and surfing. I LOVE them all.
Speaking of skiing, here I am in California testing the new Osprey Kode Ski Packs for 2014. Great pack, great photographer… but really too much snow to ski anything that was sufficiently steep (and also safe). Most of the time it is “one turn wonders” on the same run all day long, which is quite boring until you see the results (hopefully!!!!!).
I know that often folks mention they want this “testing” job, and how can they apply to become a tester. Firstly, I quit my job, flew to Alaska with some new credit cards, competed in the World Championships of Freeskiing, then asked TGR and MSP almost daily if they needed another athlete for filming, slept in depressing hotels eating junk food and whiskey, called my mom and hoped for the best. Perseverance, right?
In another lifetime, I would wish to be witty and funny. After a depressing day of sitting around waiting for the weather to clear, I went back to the hotel for a cat nap. I flopped on the bed, not realizing that there was a queen mattress on top of a twin box-spring, which left me on the floor before I could realize what had happened. Big bonus, under the bed had not been cleaned and I collected a recent issue of Hustler. Luckily, nothing else more personal!!!
OK – back to this blog and something more PG rated. Gareth at Osprey recently asked me to photograph what was in my pack:
Osprey Raven 6 w/Reservoir (100L)
Patagonia Traverse Jacket
Crank Brothers mini-pump w/gauge, Crank Brothers multi-tool 17
Solar flashlight w/hand crank backup, Juice multi-tool
Osprey tire levers, First aid tape and electrical tape, zip ties, Clif Shot Blocks, Elemental Herbs sunscreen, all-good goop and all-good lips
Missing: Map and guide book, compass.
So, those who know me from my youth, I’m the chubby-dorky-math-geek. I’m going to skip the photo, as I’m still sensitive. One of my biggest fears was biking down stairs, so this is a skill that I now teach as much as possible. This video below is from the Red Rocks Rendezvous with Osprey this spring:
Ok, I know many of you are out there with me wanting MORE SPRING WEATHER. If there is dust in the snow, I would rather be biking, surfing, rafting, gardening… blah blah blah. Speaking of growing food, I’ve got to go fix the backpack sprayer so we can treat the peach trees with very very very diluted neem oil (aphids and leaf curl). I’m not very good at the pest end of chemical-free growing, but I’m learning! The hay fields got their first cut yesterday, summer here we come!
Crystal Mountain, Washington is one of those iconic ski areas that many skiers would wish to call home. Its got it all – steeps, trees, airs, accessibility to a big city (Seattle), and best of all for us last weekend – POWDER!
25 KEEN Rippin Chix students and five coaches, including free skiing champions such as Kasha Rigby, Karen Reader, Susan Medville and Molly Baker all converged to Crystal February 9th and 10th for a steeps camp run by founder and Osprey Ambassador Alison Gannett.
Gals attended from all over and ranged in age from 14 to 59. Goals varied from overcoming past tumbles, to building confidence and skills, to learning Alison’s five fun ways to catch air. Four ability groups formed, with the “lower” group working introduction skills for steeps and the upper group charging out the gate demanding to “jump off more stuff.”
The hardest part about running Rippin Chix is always my worry that gals will push it too far and too fast. I have always believed that the best way to jump off a cliff is to learn how to jump a snowball on the groomer. Once the skills are solid, then the terrain can be pushed, and always on stuff with lots of runout room should things not go as planned. Crystal Mtn is perfect for this, with lots of fun north-facing powder bowls and zillions of chutes that fan out into big aprons. Luckily I had nothing to worry about, as these gals were fast learners and keen students.
Big smiles abounded on Sunday as we organized a group introduction and shared what everyone’s favorite skill was from Saturday. While I have adored my PSIA and race coaching training, I’ve never connected with terms like “functional tension,” and instead teach gals things like “squeeze the thong,” get rid of your velcro butt or tyrannosaurus arms and instead focus on “pouring the wine” and smushing the grapes.
Sad to say, we had quite a few flurries and clouds that prevented much video for this particular camp, so I’m going to attach the video from this year’s KEEN Rippin Chix Steeps Camp at Silverton Mtn, Colorado:
Next up on the powder seeking agenda? The Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Festival located in the heart of the legendary Selkirk Mountains at Whitewater resort near Nelson British Columbia, Canada. See you there?!
Silverton brings me back to what skiing was like as a kid — no frills, no heat, no fancy food, but great skiing with great friends. Again this year, we had several feet of powder… I’m knocking on wood as we speak.