How I Conquered A Life-Threatening Illness: A Doctor's Story
Since my childhood, I've always been passionate about seeking answers to complex problems. I believed that the human body could regain health given the right tools. However, it wasn’t until June 2001 that I had a very personal encounter with my own mortality. It was then I had put this belief into action.
From doctor to patient
During my 3rd year of training in medicine at Loyola University in Chicago, I found an unusual lump in my left breast. With my husband’s insistence, I scheduled an ultrasound and biopsy. Although I scheduled the tests, I wasn't too concerned that this lump might signify something more serious. A few days later however, my worst nightmare was confirmed with a call from the surgeon. Despite all the statistics against it, at the age of twenty-five years old, I had invasive ductal carcinoma (breast cancer).
I was devastated! This sudden news sent my very orderly world spinning as I began to process what the next twelve months would hold.
With several more surgeries and six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy followed by many weeks of radiation, I had gone from doctor to patient overnight. The rest of that year was a blur as I took a leave of absence from medical school to complete this harsh treatment regimen.
During this time, an important part of my plan included nutritional supplements, daily exercise and prayers for healing. By the summer of 2002, I had officially “beaten” the cancer but nearly destroyed my body in the process. Completely bald, malnourished, and down to my lowest weight since fourteen, I was physically depleted but mentally and emotionally still in the game.
From surviving to thriving
At this point, although I had just beaten cancer, I was determined to go further. My desire was to go from surviving to a place of thriving — full of energy and life! My unwavering faith in God and my passion for nutrition became instrumental in turning my health around. The battle against an aggressive deadly breast cancer was only the beginning of my journey. Six months after completing therapy and returning to medical school, I was once again diagnosed with a very serious medical condition.
A second diagnosis
The following year I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a very painful autoimmune disease, in which the body’s own immune system attacks the gastrointestinal lining, causing nutrient depletion, cyclical fevers, fatigue, weakness and ongoing abdominal pain.
Undoubtedly connected to the toxic effect of chemotherapy on my gut lining, I was determined to beat this new threat as well. In the beginning, my gastroenterologist told me point blank, “Diet has nothing to do with this.” He also gave me the prognosis that I would need multiple surgeries over my lifetime and would never be completely cured.
I was given powerful medications to calm the inflammation, but they did nothing for my symptoms. I was told that I would require steroids and immune-suppressing medications to control the disease. Refusing to believe that surgery and medications were the only options, I studied extensively on the healing power of nutritious food and dietary changes.
I began by making major changes in my own diet, eliminating gluten, dairy, and all processed foods and eating nutrient dense options instead. I also consulted with a wise naturopath who taught me the power of appropriate nutritional supplementation in restoring health and energy and healing the inflammation in my gut.
Back to optimal health!
Now over twelve years later, after relentless pursuit of personal healing, I'm currently in the best health of my life, completely free of breast cancer and healed from Crohn’s disease! I continue to eat an organic, whole food, gluten-free, Paleo-style diet, exercise regularly, and practice my faith through prayer and meditation.
It is evident that God healed my body expressly for the purpose of helping others and thus, I am committed to helping people find answers and live vibrantly through functional medicine. More than ever before, I believe that the human body can regain health if given the right tools — I'm living proof!