It was December of 1990. Life was great! Family, friends, work
and health all appeared to be in my favor. My husband, Larry, and I
had just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary. I woke up at 3 am
New Year's Eve with sharp, jabbing pains to my right kidney. This
pain continued to wake me every morning for the next two weeks.
I went to seek medical attention. After what seemed like an endless
amount of doctor visits, blood work and a biopsy of two lymph
glands, I was finally diagnosed. Here I was, a picture of health, and
I was being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, cancer of the
lymph system, an inoperable and incurable disease.
The cancer was a mass that started on the right side of my
abdomen, wrapped around other organs involving the mesentery
bowel and the head of the pancreas, and metastasized to the left
side of my neck involving my spine. This was a stage IV terminal
illness. The doctors recommended a protocol of a non-curative, oral chemotherapy. The oncologist explained that a stronger chemotherapy would be given to me each time the cancer came back. If I did not die from the actual cancer, I would die to the breaking down of my system from the treatments.
At the urging of the doctors, I agreed to take the oral chemotherapy. The drug affected the muscles in my neck, making it necessary for me to hold my head up with my hands. My vision deteriorated. My nervous system was shaky. I was exhausted, constantly battling stomach pain. I had to sit up in bed at night to sleep due to esophageal reflux. My thin body became extremely bloated, appearing as a pregnancy and forcing me to wear maternity clothes to find any comfort. I developed neuropathy in my hands and feet, making it necessary to walk on the sides of my feet. I was on numerous medications for pain, sleep, constipation and digestion. Nothing was helping but the ulcer medication, which I was told I would be on for the remainder of my life. During this time of despair and confusion, love, support, kindness and words of encouragement came from family and dear friends.
A magnificent, radiant expanse of light appeared before me one evening as I sat alone in the darkness of my living room in intense pain. The light comforted me and I felt at peace. I realized then that I could join the light and the pain would subside forever or, if I chose to live, the pain would intensely return. It was my choice. I chose the pain. I was not ready to leave my family. I had more to do in this world. The light gave me hope, allowed me to let go of my fear of death and begin the journey of healing. During a hospital stay, the doctors discovered that the cancer was in a temporary remission after eight months of treatment. This was my chance to seek alternative ways to heal.
I was inspired to seek out Dr. Bernie Siegel who founded ECaP, a support group for exceptional cancer patients, located in New Haven, Connecticut. The support group was based on Bernie’s philosophy regarding the power of positive thinking. Bernie offered a lending library on alternative and complementary therapies. I read more than 30 books on non-Hodgkins lymphoma. There I discovered The Cancer Prevention Diet by Michio Kushi, which changed my life. I was filled with emotion when I opened the book to the chapter on lymphoma and discovered that I had the opportunity to heal by changing my food choices and lifestyle.
I made calls to locate a macrobiotic counselor. Dr. Marc Van Cauwenberghe came highly recommended. He evaluated me and told me that I would heal myself if I altered my diet and lifestyle. By eating macrobiotically, I began to cleanse and heal my body. Two weeks after I started this diet and lifestyle, my body began to change. Over a short period of time, I was able to put my feet on the floor and walk without pain, my blood work improved immensely, I was experiencing energy I hadn't felt in years and I was able to sleep at night.
Larry and I decided to sell our New England home and travel south to spend the winter in warmer climate. We fell in love with the southwest coast of Florida. I continued to cook macrobiotic meals to nourish my body, walk barefoot on the beach and showed gratitude for every day of living.
I met Aveline and Michio Kushi at a macrobiotic conference in Miami in 1993. Meeting them was a profound experience that became a turning point in my life. Larry and I traveled between Florida and Massachusetts to study macrobiotics at the Kushi Institute. We completed all of the career training programs as well as the advanced training classes with Michio Kushi. Larry and I have facilitated the Way to Health program at the institute for many years. We have seen people transform their lives by changing their eating habits and lifestyle, many of them getting a second chance at living a quality life. We are dedicated to making a difference. I am forever grateful for my macrobiotic training. It gave me back my life. I had the honor of being selected by Michio Kushi to be a macrobiotic counselor and educator.
Larry and I continue to counsel and facilitate the Way to Health program at Kushi Institute, counsel and teach on A Taste of Health cruises and travel extensively with Harmony Haven Healing Arts offering hands-on health and wellness workshops . My passion is counseling others to attain their optimum health.
It has been over 20 years since I was diagnosed with a terminal disease. I have been off all medications for years. All of my medical tests continue to show that I am cancer-free. I live a magnificent life and most importantly, get to be with and enjoy my family!