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This ‘dragon fruit queen’ tames cancer and other diseases

/ 12:22 AM May 30, 2015
Dragon fruits guarding Editha Aguinaldo Dacuycuy’s health all around. Photo by Genie Lagman

Dragon fruits guarding Editha Aguinaldo Dacuycuy’s health all around. Photo by Genie Lagman

Editha Aguinaldo Dacuycuy, 70, is the acknowledged “dragon fruit queen” of Ilocandia province. When Inquirer Science/Health visited her last March 21 in her 10-hectare Refmad dragon fruit farm in Barangay Paayas, Burgos, Ilocos Norte, she cheerily explained the numerous benefits of the dragon fruit.

Editha is a Stage 3B breast cancer survivor. Her 35-year-old daughter Meredith Kaye suffers from cerebral palsy. She enthused that the dragon fruit has helped keep her cancer at bay, and has also helped minimize Kaye’s seizures and bouts of constipation.

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“The dragon fruit is rich in Vitamin C, so the immune system is strengthened. I believe that’s the key reason it is ideal for cancer patients,” she observed.

The dragon fruit is a vine (scientific name Epiphytic cacti of the genus Hylocereus) believed to be native to Central and Southern America. According to the online Medical Health Guide, aside from being rich in vitamin C, the dragon fruit is also rich in fiber that aids in digestion, and is also a good source of flavonoids.

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Nine years ago, Editha and her husband Rodolfo (who passed away just last November) started a dragon fruit plantation in the family backyard, using 15 posts (four plants for each post). She first heard of the dragon fruit from the daughter of a staff member in the insurance company she was working for then. The daughter’s employer happened to be a Macau resident who was a cancer patient, and consumed dragon fruit upon the doctor’s recommendation.

Her best weapon

Editha was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 65. She underwent a mastectomy on her right breast, and endured eight cycles of chemotherapy. But her best weapon against the disease were already thriving in her backyard.

Editha wasted no time using the dragon fruit to bring her back to health. In combination with a predominantly plant-based diet, Editha maintained an active lifestyle and a positive outlook.

She also applied her plant-based diet on Kaye, and it worked on her as well.

“Not only was Kaye’s constipation solved, the spasticity and seizures were minimized. Up to this time, she has become at ease, no longer are her muscles becoming stiff,” Editha related.

Proud example

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With the support of her husband and her four children (eldest Margaret is a physical therapist now based in the United States; Mildred, a mass communications specialist traded a budding career in London to co-manage Refmad; Francis is now a physician who runs a clinic in nearby Pasuquin town; Meredith Kaye is the youngest), Editha has grown the farm to what it is now today—a proud example of entrepreneurship and an inspiration for community-building.

PH first woman innovator

Using Refmad as the business model, Editha has helped other farm cooperatives set up their own dragon fruit plantations. Her work was recognized when the government awarded her the titles of Magsasaka Siyentista in 2007, the Regional Magsasaka Siyentista in 2008, the Gawad Saka Award for the high-value dragon fruit, and the honor of representing the Philippines as the country’s first woman innovator in the Asia Pacific Economic Conference in San Francisco, as declared by Malacañang-based Philippine Women’s Council.

This University of the Philippines BS psychology degree holder explains the meaning of Refmad. “It stands for Rare Eagles, Forests, Marine and Agricultural Development. I believe venturing in the dragon fruit industry is a daring act. Eagles are daring birds, that is what I want this farm to be associated with.”

According to the US-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, foods that prevent and fight off cancer are fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, which all have important nutrients like phytochemicals and pectin that strengthen the body’s immune function and destroy cancer-causing substances before they cause harm.

Research has shown that people who eat a diet free of animal products, high in plant foods, and low in fat have a much lower risk of developing cancer. PCRM recommends avoiding dairy, alcohol, red and processed meats, poultry and fish.

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TAGS: cancer, diseases, dragon fruits, health and wellness
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