Anybody who’s known me for a long time knows I’ve always been kind of crunchy. I've always loved to garden, always searched out organic food and cleaning products and I am always recycling and picking up trash. I've also always been active, staying away from doctors and proud of my health. No matter what it was, I always did things slightly against the grain (I mean, I did have 3 home births with a midwife!)
So, in early 2014, when I felt a lump in my breast and a doctor said to me, “You have stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma,” I did not believe her. I didn’t even understand the words she said as I had never heard them before. "That's breast cancer with a capital B," she said. It didn't matter that I had not one of the 20 or so risk factors I looked up for breast cancer. On top of that, I was embarrassed to be sick to that degree and kept it largely a secret from most of my extended family and friends
That solid year of slash, slash, poison and burn left me really scared and scarred mentally, physically and emotionally. Sitting there bald, pale and quivering, just waiting for the cancer they said could come back at any time.
Since I knew about kale and acai berries, I thought maybe there was something to the idea of avoiding cancer recurrence through food. I decided to ask my oncologist.
"What foods should I be eating or not eating to keep the cancer from coming back?" I asked her.
My oncologist answered matter-of-factly, "It doesn't matter what you eat. I want you to take these pills for the next 10 years which is proven to reduce your risk of cancer recurrence."
I was furious as she repeated to me that food makes no difference. But then I realized she truly believed that because they serve cupcakes and cheese crackers in the chemo room!
So I went home and consulted "Dr. Google." I was searching "cancer and food" and "nutrition and cancer" and came across the documentary, "Forks Over Knives."
I was struck by lightning when T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., explained how his research found that eating animal protein turns cancer cells on and not eating animal protein turns cancer cells off. In study after study for many different types of animal proteins and in every different way he and others tested it, the results were the same. In fact, he could turn on and turn off cancer cells in the lab by changing the level of animal protein exposure every 21 days. And, eating animal protein and other processed foods high in salt, sugar and fat was proven to have many other negative, serious effects in causing chronic diabetes and heart disease, too. The medical evidence was overwhelming (after all, I am a journalist) and so i went whole food vegan overnight.
At about that same time, one of my editors told me about a new book called, “Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds,” by Kelly Turner, Ph.D. This book outlines 9 common factors (out of the 75 factors tested) she found that can make a real difference in keeping cancer away. Aside from changing my diet overnight, that book gave me 8 more things I could easily do in my life to keep cancer away.
And so, as my scars faded, I began to feel better every day. Lighter and not so scared.
And that’s how I became a whole food vegan. Once I learned more about how a vegan lifestyle has a profound positive effect on almost all deadly health conditions (read Dr. Greger’s book, “How Not to Die”), every aspect of our degraded environment (watch Cowspiracy, the documentary) and all the animals tragically imprisoned and killed for most American's plates and clothing 3 times a day (watch Earthlings, the documentary), I wanted to scream it from the rooftops.
So, I got certified as a Vegan Lifestyle Coach & Educator by the Mainstreet Vegan Academy, an immersion program in New York City to learn how to help people go vegan. I earned the Plant-Based Nutrition Certification from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and eCornell and gained an in-depth understanding of the current health effects of the Standard American Diet and how a simple whole food plant-based diet can reverse many chronic health conditions quickly and deliciously.
I began to stand up and tell my story. I started teaching cooking classes and workshops at yoga studios, wellness centers and health food stores. I am developing my own whole food plant-based recipes. I created a free Plant-Empowered Woman Facebook Group filled with women who are overcoming obesity and taking back their health every day! They are discovering the miraculous benefits of doing so while sharing their successes, obstacles, feelings, recipes and suggestions with other members. I write and share their vegan health success stories on this blog. I began to help, guide and coach people privately and in groups take back their health by going whole food vegan.
I want to help anyone who wants to go vegan. Especially those who want to go vegan for their health. Those who are sick and tired of being sick and tired struggling with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Those who want to fall in love with food again and feel the best they have ever felt in their lives.
Because I know how scary the words, “you have cancer” are and to feel you have no control over your health. Because I opened my eyes and my heart to the truth and found out how one simple change of what’s on my plate can solve not only my own health problems, but our environmental problems and the sad, tragic truth many don't want to know about what we do (and pay others to do) to the animals we eat, wear and use every day.
Now, I am just so gratefully vegan...and I want to help you feel the same...