Life Saving, Life Changing!
In spring 1998, when I was 40, I discovered a lump in my right breast, which later was diagnosed as invasive lobular and ductal carcinoma, stage 3B. The news was devastating, as I had already lost my left leg to bone cancer seven years earlier.
After a mastectomy, chemo and radiation, a specialist in Boston told me, with a long, sad face, that the cancer likely would be back within a year. I did as recommended and tried Tamoxifin for a month but discontinued it because of extreme side effects. I felt lost and depressed.
So I asked my surgeon if she knew anyone practicing conventional/alternative medicine. She gave me the name of a naturopathic doctor – Devna Krassner, who let me know that some women with breast cancer had been helped by the macrobiotic diet.
I thought, “ahhh,” remembering a book I’d read years earlier about a man who had healed himself from cancer by using this plant-based diet. If there was any chance that such a diet might help me, I was all for it. And thus my healing journey began.
I found a macrobiotics/whole foods cooking teacher in my area, Lisa Silverman, and began her wonderful classes. I felt empowered by the people I met through these classes – including Louise Sharp, who I met about nine months after starting to eat this way (and who now assists me in teaching cooking classes). Louise put me in touch with the amazing Warren Kramer, a macrobiotic counselor from Boston. I met with Warren every two to four months for the next two years.
Many things started to improve in my life. I began sleeping through the night – something I’d had trouble with for five years. With my doctor’s OK, I weaned myself off heart arrhythmia medication. I lost weight, my skin got very clear, and chronic sinus problems and headaches cleared up. Ulcerative colitis that I’d dealt with for four years steadily came to an end. My thinking became sharper.
I felt as though I had changed my destiny! Against all odds, I was actually doing something that was improving my health. I felt alive and happy.
I began learning everything I could about macrobiotics and eventually went to study at the Kushi Institute, a non-profit educational organization in Becket, Mass. I attended my first annual Kushi Institute Macrobiotic Conference in August 2000, and sat in on a very inspiring, weeklong program to learn cooking theory for people with illnesses. Through my studies, I’ve come to understand many of the causes of illness. The macrobiotic approach is based on a lot of common sense.
Best of all, I learned that I truly could take responsibility for my own health and change my condition. I went from terminal illness to vibrant health. And in the process, I was able to let go of fear.
As my health bloomed, I also saw many positive changes in my family’s health as they gradually embraced this way of eating. This extended to my sister and her family. Her 3-year-old son’s lifelong, serious reflux finally ended, her husband's cholesterol went down to normal, and they both lost weight.
My life today is by no means perfect. I still have my ups and downs, and still deal with issues surrounding my grief, anger and loss. But … I’m still here to deal with these kinds of things … and to enjoy everything else in life!