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Meet A Chef Without A Stomach

Food is his passion and his life.

But one chef doesn't get to enjoy his food the same we would.

That's because he doesn't have a stomach.

He lost it following cancer complications.

Now, as Doctor Sanjay Gupta tells us, he's using his experiences to help fellow survivors find healthy food options.

Hans Rueffert (prono: rue-furt) is a chef-- without a stomach or much of an esophagus.

"I've had 11 surgeries in the last six years."

You see, Rueffert was diagnosed with gastric cancer just weeks after appearing in the 2005 season of "The Next Food Network Star."

"There was a tumor, sitting right at the junction of the stomach and the esophagus."

His treatment was painful.

Rueffert first had half his stomach and most of his esophagus removed immediately after his diagnosis.

And then there were more operations... Chemo... Radiation... But, eventually, he was cancer-free.

That's when the headaches began.

"They saw 10 to 12 lesions and I was told this is it. You're on your way out."

It wasn't cancer, but it was a serious brain infection caused by his newly constructed digestive system.

"I ended up springing a leak at that junction where the esophagus and the stomach were connected and that leak actually almost killed me."

Antibiotics got rid of the infection, but a year later, a second one, worse than the first.

Both infections were so serious, that doctors didn't want to risk him getting another one.

So in March, the rest of Rueffert's stomach was removed.

Even though his stomach is gone, he eats six healthy, small meals every day, which now go directly into his intestines.

"The expression you are what you eat is so... it's cliché as can be, but it's cliché because it's true. And, for me, that really is amplified."

He wrote a cookbook while in the hospital, after his first operation.

And for the last five years, he's been teaching fellow survivors how to incorporate healthy, cancer-fighting foods into their diets.

"It's power, it's energy and it's energy that our bodies can readily assimilate, even for a guy without a stomach."

Rueffert says the six years have been difficult.

But being open about his cancer and surrounding himself with family and friends has helped him overcome every challenge so far.

"Somehow, you just kind of find just a little more strength just to keep going, keep going, keep going. And here we are, I just had my six year check-up and we're six years cancer free."


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