Dr. Robert Zembroski has told his story before. Seven years ago he beat non-Hodgkins lymphoma by changing his diet, exercising, reducing stress, and eliminating toxins.

“I’m cancer-free,” the Wilton resident said, sitting in his Darien office. “I’m fine. A few weeks ago, I’ve been five years completely clean. Even when the bomb goes off and the city’s destroyed, you can rebuild better than you were before.”

That experience led him to create the Cancer Victor lifestyle, as well as The 12-Week Medical Makeover and his book, The Body Composition D.I.E.T, all of which promote healthy lifestyle choices.

A chiropractic physician, Dr. Z is the clinical director of The Darien Center for Functional Medicine.

In his latest project, he is working with an Emmy award-winning film company, Mazzarella Media, on a documentary about heart disease. Called “Suddenly,” the project will explain, said Dr. Z, that heart disease isn’t what it seems.

“What you know heart disease to be, isn’t,” he said. “For a lot of different reasons. What you know cancer to be, isn’t either.

“We want to bring the research to people and give it to you in a way that you can use it. We want to change your life.”

The documentary will be presented at film festivals with the hope of being picked up by a network, as well as going to libraries.

“This is going to be everywhere,” he said.

He said that 50% of people who have had heart attacks or strokes had normal cholesterol levels.

“If we specifically target coronary artery disease, cholesterol is not it,” he said. “It’s an inflammatory disorder. It’s all created by what you do and don’t do through your diet.”

He believes that pharmaceutical companies play a role in a lot of the myths that have been created.

“That’s not preventing cardiovascular disease,” he said. “Cholesterol is not the reason behind heart disease. That’s a fallacy.”

He researched the issue deeply, from “every top cardiovascular research on the planet.”

Asked why the fallacy has been created, he laughs.

“I don’t know if it’s big business, big pharma, or all of the above,” he said.

Prior to his cancer diagnosis, Dr. Z described himself as a “wreck.” He had issues with his work environment, his home life, relationships, and was not working out or eating well.

“I created my own disease,” he said.

While he stresses that lifestyle changes are needed, he thinks people assume that means purely something such as not smoking.

“It’s really life behaviors, or life actions,” he said. “It’s more than just giving up cigarettes.

“We’re a stressed society. With the economy, obesity, everything. And what do people do? They shock themselves awake and they sedate themselves to bed. The stress of our lives burns us out and then we wonder why we’re sick.”

He described the process as a cycle in which stress leads to illness, which then leads to the common comfort foods. He said those are nutrient deficient, which leads to further illness.

“You just have to tap into the tornado somehow and start fixing these things,” he said.

The fix isn’t as simple as simply taking a vitamin. Each patient must be treated specifically to their concerns and symptoms.

“Chronic disease is why the healthcare in this country has bankrupted us,” he said. “It’s $7.8 trillion or something like that, managing chronic illness, when it’s just a lifestyle problem. It’s stress, food, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, and the occasional BPA from plastic bottles that we drink from.”

He laughed at that last point before turning serious again.

“If people just had the five major tips and tools I think we would be much better off,” he said. “People would be less miserable. We wouldn’t be relying on scalpels.”

One of Dr. Z’s major concerns is that many patients are being misdiagnosed. He spoke specifically of a patient he had seen.

“She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Based on her history, nothing objectively said she had any autoimmune dysfunction.

“We started treated her and her symptoms improved quite a bit. She did not, or never did, have an autoimmune disease. But she was treated for that with chemotherapy and steroids without a proven diagnosis.

“She came off all of her drugs and has been fantastic. Misdiagnoses are getting worse. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like an experiment.”

Dr. Z has faced plenty of stress but said going through his cancer experience changed his perspective.

“I faced the Grim Reaper once,” he said. “Nothing else matters but your health. Unfortunately you can’t give that to people. Everybody’s got their own windshield they have to see out of.”

He said that everything comes down to a perspective, and he will try to change other people’s perspective. With the documentary and book, he will embark on a what he called a “public blitz” with speaking engagements to lecture on these topics that he feels so strongly about.

That being said, as the leaves turn, Dr. Z turned his eyes towards southern Vermont, where he enjoys skiing. That is part of what he does for fun, and also considers his workout regiment to be part of what he enjoys personally.

“That’s how I de-stress,” he said.