Lifestyle medicine helps Tommy Archer stave off cancer

By Louie St. George III
Duluthian Tommy Archer was in rough shape when he first connected with Essentia Health’s Dr. Jason Buffington. Two days after receiving his 33rd radiation treatment for prostate cancer, which Archer was diagnosed with in 2012, he met Dr. Buffington. The former professional race-car driver was simply unable to get his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels down.

Archer. Essentia Health
Dr. Buffington, who has practiced lifestyle medicine for close to six years, immediately began transforming Archer’s diet.

“He taught me the things that I shouldn’t be eating, things that I should be eating,” Archer said during a recent interview.

Years later, a healthy Archer is adamant that his diet is the reason he’s alive.

“Dr. Buffington helped me understand why it was important to do certain things,” said Archer, a realtor for Coldwell Banker. “We can’t say we’re curing the cancer, but I can say that I am controlling it by not eating those foods. I know that my cancer number has gone down. The last blood test was down 30 percent because I was eating this way. There’s no medicine involved. There’s no fancy stuff. It’s the right foods and the lack of the bad foods that has got it to go down 30 percent.”

That simplicity is one reason lifestyle medicine is so appealing to Dr. Buffington. He estimates that “probably 80-90 percent of the diseases that we’re getting as Americans are related to unhealthy lifestyle factors.”

To him, the remedy is as simple as the numbers are stark: Change the lifestyle.

That’s the goal for Dr. Buffington. He recently launched lifestyle medicine at the Essentia Wellness Center in Hermantown. It uses science-based, therapeutic lifestyle changes to prevent, treat or reverse chronic diseases, rather than automatically reverting to medication. Those changes are focused on six pillars: nutrition; exercise/movement; sleep; tobacco cessation, alcohol moderation and the minimization of exposure to other toxins; healthy relationships; and stress management.

To schedule an appointment with Essentia’s lifestyle medicine team, which includes physician assistant Todd Plocher, call (218) 786-3100, option #1.