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LAFAYETTE, LA (WAFB) - A federal judge must have secrets, like case negotiations and sealed testimony. However, Federal Judge Tucker Melancon of Lafayette has decided to make something personal very public.
"I didn't realize it was possible for a man to get breast cancer," Judge Melancon says. "And I had noticed that on my left breast, the nipple had kind of gotten somewhat inverted."
He had been working as a negotiator in what would be the end of the East Baton Rouge school desegregation case when he was diagnosed. As Judge James Brady signed the settlement agreement in 2003, Tucker Melancon was fighting for his life. He had stage 3 breast cancer, a mastectomy, radiation, and chemo therapy. Treatment was aggressive and painful. His wife, Diana Moore, did not know how long he would live.
Three years later, cancer resurfaced. This time, it was under and behind his heart. "Once you have breast cancer in your lymph system, it can go to your brain, it can go to your liver, it can go to your bones, and you might have, you might have, there's such a thing as liver cancer, but you can have breast cancer in the liver," Melancon says. Melancon's wife is a sculptor with a studio in Connecticut. It was there that his treating cancer doctor said something unexpected. "He said, ‘You know, you're using the same chemicals you used five years ago. It didn't work back then, why do ya think it's gonna work now?' which, as a lay person, made a heck of a lotta sense to me."
Outside the Lafayette Federal Courthouse sit giant lady justice urns. The sculptures were created by Melancon's wife, Diana. Justice was blind but Diana was not. She was determined that Tucker would not die without a fight. "She just didn't wanta hear any of that and so she got on-line and one thing led to another and she found out about the raw food diet."
While surfing the web, Moore found the Hippocrates Institute in Palm Beach, Florida. The couple studied for a few weeks at the institute, and then came home to radically change their diets. Eating items such as raw food and excluding sugar, meats, and dairy were now what they would follow. Like a prize fighter, this takes intense discipline. In his Lafayette condo, Melancon has raw beans and peas, washed to start them sprouting. When they sprout, he says they have 30% more nutritious value. There is also blue algae from the ocean, frozen in his freezer. He dehydrates grains to make delicious and crunchy flat breads.
Melancon fasts one day a week and daily drinks a juice concocted of highly nutritious wheat grass and other natural ingredients. He'll also make a drink using sunflower sprouts, which opens up a whole new quest in his raw food diet. Melancon makes weekly trips to the fresh market in Lafayette, where the manager accepts special delivery of his wheat grass. "If I'm dead a year from now, it will have extended my life the way it did and it gave me the quality of life I enjoy, which ya know, my energy levels are great. I've never been a particularly good-looking fella but people tell me I look better than I've looked in years."
Does he ever tire of his relentless diet? "I liken it to that dog and you feed him out of that 50-pound bag of Purina Dog Chow. You think, how can that dog eat that every night. Not only does the dog eat it, but when you put the bowl down at 5:00, he or she can't wait to get to the bowl and to lap it all down. Well, that's pretty much how I feel about my food. It's just another example of everything you do is just habit and if you get used to eating sweets and chocolate and beef, whatever you do, whatever your pet devil is, then that's what you crave."