Life has an interesting way of redirecting your path sometimes. And the opportunity for major change was graciously provided by my first-born daughter, Rachael.
At 10 years of age, she was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer and given a life-sentence of 15 months with a less than 10 percent chance of survival. Not what a parent wants to hear, especially with those kind of odds. But the bigger question was why? Cancer isn't supposed to show up in little 10 year-old girls. So why her? How did this happen? What now?
She began the long process of chemotherapy, hospital visits, blood transfusions, x-rays, doctor appointments and surgeries. The medical machine had incorporated her into its process and it seemed as though there were no options other than what was the traditional standard of care. The drugs damaged her heart, weakened her immune system and would supposedly make the cancer go away. But something didn't seem quite right. While they were weakening her small, frail body with the drugs, there was no mention of trying to make her strong enough to endure it. Dietary considerations were not even discussed. And somehow this didn't seem right.
I didn't know anything about health, wellness or how to create a healing diet. But I had to find out how to help her heal. So I started searching, which was harder than it seemed. This was during the early days of the internet so information was very limited. But I knew one thing: there had to be a correlation between what she ate and how efficiently her body could deal with the cancer.
So, I did the only thing I knew how to do. While Rachael was in the hospital, I decided to take my juicer and big bag of organic carrots and start feeding her some concentrated nutrients. When the dietician came around, suggesting I give her pizza and milkshakes because these foods would give her much-needed calcium (really?), I smiled and thanked them for their help but would instead try to get real food in her mouth that contained the nutrients she desperately needed.
The hospital staff did a lot of staring and snickering at this "crazy" mom who thought she was going to cure her child of cancer using food and carrots, but I didn't care. I was determined! But it wasn't always easy. Sometimes, when she was too sick to eat or swallow, I had to get those nutrients into her mouth using only a small eyedropper. But I was not about to give up.
After 1 year of many, many ups and downs, she was released from the hospital and given a temporary clean bill of health. However, they fully expected to see her back shortly with a recurrence of cancer. That wasn't on my list of possibilities. Nor on hers.
We began to incorporate more whole foods into our diets, slowly at first but gaining momentum each month. The refined foods were making their way out of our home as healthier options were gaining more shelf space. Rachael continued to improve and had the mental attitude of a champion. Recurrence was not an option for her and she lived every day knowing she was going to be fine. And the rest of us believed her. So we just moved on with life.
Watching her rally to beat cancer and actually win gave me a new perspective about the importance of the food we eat. I became passionate about the role between diet and overall health. I began reading and studying everything I could get my hands on. This new revelation changed our lives. Our family began to eat differently and we noticed huge improvements. Soon thereafter, I began working on a masters degree in herbology and continued on, eventually obtaining a PhD in Holistic Nutrition. And now, 23 years later, after working with over 2,000 clients, I have seen the dramatic effect that simple dietary changes can make. Conventional medicine doesn't have all the answers nor can they predict the future. This is up to us.
Today, Rachael is 33 years old and married to a wonderful man for the past 12 years. After being told the odds of living were slim, the chances of having children were even slimmer, and the risk of dying was incredibly high, she proved them wrong. She has blessed us with five wonderful children and the even greater gift of her life.
It is said that every problem is also an opportunity; every crisis bears a gift. I couldn't have asked for a bigger or better gift than to have walked this journey with her and see my daughter live and grow and thrive. She is the reason I do what I do. And it's my turn to pay-it-forward.