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An Outlier's Journey

Jason Wrency was first hit with a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2009, but was told there was no immediate need for surgery. His doctors decided the best plan for him would be to remain on active surveillance and have his blood tested every six months. Jason was followed closely by his doctors, and every three years he had a biopsy done in order to see if any changes had taken place in his prostate.

Jason Wrency standing in front of a fence

This plan of action remained steady and sustainable until November 2019, when doctors found that Jason's PSA levels had risen substantially. This called for an MRI, which found that his lesion had increased in size.

The news led to Jason deciding to have his prostate removed. After his robotic surgery, his PSA was undetectable, and he hoped that he was finally out of the woods. Unfortunately, this didn’t last, and a few months later his PSA levels had risen once again.

While the return of Jason’s cancer alarmed him, he knew there was work to be done. He had always been an advocate for a healthy, balanced life, attributing much of the success in keeping his cancer at bay for eleven years to consistent exercise. “I learned a lot about exercise along the way. I can’t remember exactly when I began to work out, but it has been a very long time. It’s the best habit you can ever develop,” says Wrency. “When I wasn’t reading diet books, I was reading exercise books. I have done every kind of exercise: running, weightlifting, aerobic classes, Pilates, etc. I am even Cross Fit certified.”

When he learned that his cancer had returned, he decided to go one step further and fully transition to a plant-based diet.

Jason had always been attracted to holistic lifestyles, citing that, “When I was seventeen, I was particularly fascinated with a person I saw on the Tonight Show called Gypsy Boots. He preached a healthy lifestyle of eating a lot of raw foods and juices. I remember going to buy vitamins at the Sturdee health food store which was probably the only store of its kind in Brooklyn. I remember when Prevention Magazine was the bible of organically healthy living. I was there at the very beginning.”

Clearly, the transition to plant-based wasn’t overnight. “A couple of years ago I was surprised to find out that a colonoscopy yielded twelve polyps. The doctor told me that I was a ‘polyp machine’,” explains Wrency. “At that point I started adding more vegetables and fiber to my diet and eliminated all processed meats.” Three years later, his colonoscopy was clean.

“This told me that what I ate could radically affect my health. Something that I always knew, but it was nice to see the physical evidence. This made it even more logical for me to change my diet,” he says.

In addition to changes in diet and exercise, Jason has also taken up meditation, yoga, prayer, and therapy to reach a greater level of balance as he battles cancer. “Cancer has to be fought mentally and emotionally in addition to drugs and diet,” he explains.

Jason intentionally established a specific morning routine, bearing in mind that “...most successful people have one and a great many meditate and do some form of exercise.” He trained in Transcendental Meditation, and always starts his day with yoga. “Before you begin any of the poses, you reflect on your intent for the day. My intent is always the same: ‘What can I do to fight cancer today’,” he says.

When Jason was finally able to see his oncologist in person following months of COVID delays, the doctor was pleased to hear his plans to continue holistically working to improve his cancer diagnosis. “I described to her that I additionally was going on a strict plant-based diet along with strenuous exercise, yoga, meditation and stress reduction exercises. She called me an ‘outlier.’ That’s the name of my story”, says Wrency.

While the impact of the powerful drugs Jason has been prescribed to deal with his latest diagnoses, as well as the androgen deprivation therapy, have brought upon physical limitations, he says he’s not stopping anytime soon.

“I’m not finished with what I have to do. I have been involved with several organizations with members that I believe could benefit from what I have learned” says Jason. “If everyone changes their diet, adds exercise, reduces stress and brings purpose to their life even a little bit, it will help all of us. The compounding effect is enormous. You don’t have to be a cancer patient to benefit. This would be my greatest joy!”

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Andrea Lugo

Andrea Lugo is a recent George Mason University graduate who now serves as a Marketing and Communications Intern at ZERO. Andrea is passionate about communications and social media, and has been involved in the field since her sophomore year of high school. Prior to working at ZERO, Andrea worked as an Intern at Agence-France Presse and as a Social Media Intern at ScoutComms. She regularly travels to Argentina and Uruguay to visit her extended family, and hopes to work in international communications abroad in the near future.