Ex-model almost died trying to cure cancer with juice diet

UK

A former model who almost died trying to cure her cancer with a juice diet has warned others against “cutting out” traditional medical advice and trying to source alternative information online.

Irena Stoynova forked out £2,000 on juicers and would spend up to three hours a day preparing liquid meals for the next day, believing it would clear her of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The 39-year-old was diagnosed in June 2021 when medics recommended that she receive conventional treatment, but she “shut them out” after “reading about and watching many doctors and professors talk about the success rate of alternative therapies online”.

Ms Stoynova was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma  in June 2021. Pic: PA
Image:
Ms Stoynova was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in June 2021. Pic: PA

Ms Stoynova, from Crondall in Hampshire, said she took to a juice diet for two-and-a-half years, but also tried a raw-food diet, intermittent fasting, boiling herbs and special teas.

She said that she was advised to start chemotherapy, but she turned to the internet to find alternative advice and “everything started from there”.

She said she listened to one man with hundreds of thousands of followers on social media claimed the body could “heal itself” through a radical lifestyle and diet change.

Ms Stoynova lost 20kg as a result of her holistic approach to cancer. Pic: PA
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Ms Stoynova said she lost 20 kilograms as a result of her holistic approach to cancer. Pic: PA

Ms Stoynova said she became a “fanatic” of the various diets and holistic therapies she followed, adding: “It was like tunnel vision.

“I didn’t stop, I was just so weak, I had sleep deprivation and hallucinations. I didn’t even have the strength to open the door for the delivery man.

“I couldn’t breathe because there was fluid on my lungs, I lost about 20 kilograms because of the dieting.”

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Doctors said Ms Stoynova was on the verge of death when she was taken to Frimley Park Hospital by ambulance in May last year.

She was told by doctors she would likely die without treatment for her cancer – which was stage three – but Ms Stoynova continued to refuse for a number of days before finally agreeing to receive chemotherapy.

Medics described “frustrating” conversations with her but eventually, after 10 days in hospital, she agreed to start chemotherapy.

The 39-year-old did a juice diet for two-and-a-half years, but also tried a raw diet, intermittent fasting, boiling herbs and special teas. Pic: PA
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Ms Stoynova is now in remission after having chemotherapy. Pic: PA


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Ms Stoynova, who is now in remission, added: “I now say to people that the side effects from chemotherapy are a piece of cake compared to the side effects that I got from trying the holistic treatment.”

She added: “What I would say is it’s great to have beliefs, it’s great if they’re backed by science, and please don’t cut off your consultants.

“I cut off consultants and everything connected with standard medicine and I almost lost my life.”

Dr Clare Rees, consultant haematologist at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is an extreme scenario and genuinely in the first 24 hours of Irena’s admission, I was unclear whether she would survive this or not.

“But the problem is that misinformation often spreads faster than the truth and obviously, if someone’s given the option of juice versus tablets or chemotherapy and injecting drugs into their bodies, you can see why they would prefer to do some of it if it will give them the same outcome – but the problem is that is not evidence-based practice.

“We always encourage people to go to Lymphoma Action or Macmillan Cancer Support for genuine information.”

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