Northwestern welcomes Ethan Zohn and his hopeful message

Rob Karwath | July 07, 2016

The winner of "Survivor: Africa," who also is a two-time cancer survivor, shares an important message of hope and healing with students and prospective students.

Ethan Zohn is on a mission to deliver a message to students of chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture and nutrition.

"They're savings lives—lives of people like me," says Zohn, an internationally known philanthropist, former professional soccer player and winner of the “Survivor: Africa” reality TV show. "They may not know right now that they have the power to heal. But I am a living example that they can."

Zohn, known for his work to raise funds to fight HIV and AIDS through his charity, Grassroot Soccer, came to Northwestern Health Sciences University Saturday to speak at Discovery Day for prospective students, current students, aulmni, faculty, staff and others who are part of the Northwestern community.

In addition to his charitable, athletic and media work, Zohn is a two-time cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2009, requiring aggressive chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant. After a period of remission, the cancer returned in 2011, requiring further treatment before he entered remission again.

Zohn, 42, included his personal health journey as part of his Discovery Day message. He is a believer in natural health care as part of an effective holistic treatment plan. His brother, Lee, and sister-in-law, Heidi, both are chiropractors and Northwestern graduates.

"It's always been part of my health plan," he says. "I noticed as an athlete that I healed quicker and was less prone to injury if my structure and function were in line.

"But it really came to fruition for me when I got cancer. Cancer is a silent disease in your body. The doctors throw all kinds of chemicals and drugs at you to fight it. What happens is your body feels out of control. I turned to an integrated approach with natural treatments to regain some of that control."

Chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and nutrition have remained important parts of Zohn's heath approach, along with making sure he gets enough sleep. Basic and natural treatments not only can keep people healthy but also allow them greater access to health care and health professionals.

"These services are much more easily accesible for people because these professionals are part of the community," Zohn says. "The hospital can be intimidating. People don't always want to go there. But these professionals are in the community educating people about healthy lifestyles."

He adds: "Young people going into these fields can have a huge impact. I'm a living example of that. I'm pretty much a living example of everything Northwestern teaches."

Northwestern is proud to partner with Zohn and share his experiences with others, President Christopher Cassirer says.

“Ethan’s story is powerful, uplifting and energizing,” he says. “Our goal is to be the premier health sciences university that helps create a healthier world. Ethan is a wonderful example of how we all can do our part to make that happen.”

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