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Springfield’s Donna Steward, pictured with her late husband Ray, approached her 2012 breast cancer diagnosis with a no-nonsense, firm attitude, lifestyle changes and natural remedies.

Longtime EMT went with a unique approach after her 2012 diagnosis

SPRINGFIELD — Having been the life force of the Springfield Rescue Squad for nearly 45 years, Donna Steward is no stranger to tough situations. 

Being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 has only been 1 of them. 

“I had gone to the doctor the day before, and she did all these tests, and she called me the next day and said, ‘I want you in my office at 5,” Steward recalled from 2012. “I knew what she was gonna tell me. She was crying…she said, ‘you have breast cancer.’ I said, ‘so?’”

Steward’s cancer journey isn’t a typical one; she told her doctor she didn’t want to undergo radiation and chemotherapy. Instead, she leaned on a “natural” regimen of baking soda and fresh lemon juice to balance her body’s pH and adjusted her diet. 

She adjusted her diet, hard. 

“I stopped eating all white bread and white sugar,” she explained. “I started eating a lot of green veggies and a lot of stuff like that, like you’re supposed to.” 

One of the biggest ways to reduce your risk of cancer is by adjusting your diet, the American Cancer Society urges. And about 1 in 5 cancer cases is related to excess body weight, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption or an unhealthy diet. 

“Cancer feeds off sugar,” Steward described of her experience with the disease. “People will crave sugar like crazy. When I quit all white bread, white flour, no chips, cookies, nothing, I had more energy.” 

After her diagnosis in March 2012, Steward said she immediately started with baking soda and lemon. A normal human body’s pH should be 7.35, she explained, and anything higher or lower is a better environment for cancer to grow. Once she started drinking the lemon juice mixture, when she went back to her doctor, he said the tumor in her right breast shrank considerably. 

“As a precaution, I let him remove the breast,” Steward recalled, but added that she refused to begin cancer treatments or take pain management drugs like Percocet. Her breast was removed along with her lymph nodes, and she’s been leaning on the natural remedy from her diagnosis forward. 

“I research and research and research before I make any decisions,” she advises. 

She also continues to get checked regularly, but she’s been cancer free ever since. 

And a good thing, too: she’s a busy lady. At 68 years old, she’s worked as an EMT with the Springfield Rescue Squad since April 1, 1981. 

She’s been running calls since, and she said she hopes to stick it out there for a couple more years. 

“I’m planning on, if God’s willing, staying until I’m 70,” she said. “I care about the people in my community, and they depend on me…I love what I do.”

Steward’s approach to her cancer journey and recovery may seem unorthodox compared to others’, but with Relay for Life’s 2022 event coming up this Saturday in Capon Bridge, all survivors and cancer warriors and their loved ones – no matter what their journey looks like – have the opportunity to share their stories. 

This year’s Relay theme is “Choose Hope,” and the event (a yard party at the Capon Bridge Fire Department grounds) will include a car show, live music, vendors and more. 

Hampshire County Relay events haven’t been in person in a couple years because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but this year will see a return to in-person fundraising and a change in venue – the event has traditionally been held at Hampshire High School, but this weekend heads east to Capon Bridge. 

(1) comment


Donna Steward is a rockstar representative of Springfield! She is strong and kind and is someone to emulate. I wish there were more people like her in the world.

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