Name: Jorge Ballerino
Age: 43 (but feels 23)
Occupation: Cancer Warrior
I met Jorge in 2009 through an organization called Team in Training. We both joined the team to prepare for our first triathlon and raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Jorge is outgoing, charismatic, energetic, and athletic. He is one of the first people I remember meeting on the team and we became fast friends. His energy is infectious and anyone who was on our team would tell you the same thing: it just wouldn't have been the same without Jorge. When we flew to DC for our first Olympic Distance Triathlon, Jorge convinced the entire team to board the plane dressed in white from head to toe because, after all... we are from Miami!! Once you meet Jorge Ballerino, you will never forget him.
In 2010 Jorge was diagnosed with Metastasized Stage IV Melanoma Cancer. The survival rate for this type of cancer is 9-15%. I still can't wrap my head around that statistic. When Jorge called to tell me about his diagnosis I can remember thinking "This world cannot lose Jorge Ballerino." The role Jorge played on our triathlon team is the same role that he plays in every aspect of his life: he is a leader, a care-giver, an entertainer... a strong man with a heart bigger than his biceps :) I could not accept the fact that someone so full of life was being threatened by a deadly, unforgiving disease. Luckily, Jorge was not about to accept this fact either... and his fight began.
The words "faith" and "belief" came up over and over again during every conversation I had with Jorge throughout his treatment. In spite of the unfavorable statistics, his focus was always on becoming cancer free and nothing else. He looked at it the same way he looks at every finish line... it may be a struggle to get there but it is his for the taking. He would tell you this is where any fight begins; with an unwavering faith and rock solid belief that you will accomplish what you set out to do whether it is bike 100 miles or cure your own cancer. There is no room for doubt, not for a second.
Once Jorge set his sites on a cancer free body, he took immediate action. Unsatisfied with his doctor's recommendation of the traditional 30-year-old treatments, Jorge did his own research and found out about a new Biological Therapy. After careful debate and with a full understanding the risk and aggressive nature of the treatment, Jorge entered into a Clinical Trial at Sarah Cannon Research Center in Nashville.
In addition to researching treatment, Jorge started investigating the effects of food on his body. It is just like Jorge to take control and explore every possible way to keep his body healthy and strong. I don't think Jorge ever saw himself as a victim, which I believe has been key to his success throughout his life. Throughout his treatment, he was constantly proactive in his efforts to make himself healthy. Jorge took the cards he was dealt and played his hand without ever considering the option to fold. This is the stuff heroes are made of.
Jorge experimented with different diets and became acutely aware of how what he was eating was directly effecting his treatment and his body. He was able to prevent side effects that other patients experienced by nourishing his body with organic raw and living foods. An abundance of greens and the elimination of complex carbohydrates such bread, pasta, white rice, and potatoes were key components to Jorge's success. Jorge's blog, itsallaboutthefight.com, documents his treatment, his diet experiments, and his fight with cancer in fascinating detail.
"When I started my journey with cancer I discovered that nutrition would be a big factor to my recovery. I started by understanding the true nature of nutrition and how our bodies are made up in order to implement certain foods that would create the right results. The first thing I understood about the body is that we are all made up of cells, millions of them and in order for anyone to reach optimum health, we must think of our body as such; millions of cells forming organs, muscles, blood, bones and the most important...our immune system."
"Such cells are born, and regenerate every so often like red blood cells which die and regenerate every 4 months. By applying the right nutrition which feeds all cells with the right nutrients, phytochemicals, macro and micro nutrients, anyone can achieve ultimate health."
"Most of us have learned that nutrition is based on calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats and have forgotten to mention the real hero behind food...micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals) which are the foundation of good nutrition. I have found that food is the best medicine we can have and by far the biggest factor in my recovery and reactivation of my immune system."
The clinical trial was composed of 150 patients of which, only 109 remained by this past July. Of the 109 patients, only one has fully recovered. That one would be none other than our Jorge. On May 23, 2011 Jorge announced that he is CANCER FREE. Jorge's doctor has said that he has not seen such remarkable recovery in any other patient. Jorge's current prescription: "Keep doing whatever it is that you are doing."
"I must still remain alert but at least I can rest a little easier knowing that I have taken my body from Stage IV with 7 tumors including involvement of the Lymph Nodes to No Cancer today!!! This journey has taught me so many things and has changed me forever. I am not the same as I used to be and I can only keep evolving and growing from this moment forward."
Nutrition was the "X" Factor in Jorge's recovery and he continues to research, experiment, and learn about this topic. In addition to beating Stage IV cancer (as if that were not enough) Jorge is on a mission is to teach as many people as possible about how to restore and maintain optimum health by eating organic raw and living foods and detoxifying our bodies. Since his diagnosis, Jorge has become a Wellness and Nutrition Coach, a Motivational Speaker, and creator of LetsEatOrganic.com - an organic buying club based in Miami, FL. He is also currently writing a book on his battle against cancer and compiling a cook book based on his cancer-fighting diet. Jorge also continues to be an active cyclist, stellar athlete, and dear friend.
On Saturday, August 27 Jorge will be speaking at South Florida CrossFit Endurance as part of our "Nutrition FUN Day!". You will get to hear first hand how Jorge was able to food as a powerful cancer-fighting drug. Click here for details.