Monday, June 8, 2009

An Interview with Julie

This is an article/interview with a very wonderful friend of mine who has been a true blessing to me, holding my hand through diagnosis of COPD and a bitter divorce. She continues to be my touchstone and I doubt that I would have made it through to this day without her constant support, love and encouragement. Unbeknownst to me, while I was going through the hospital stay for my own illness and the constant divorce battle, she was going through her own trials. She never said a word to me. She just kept on supporting me, lending me her strength, lifting me in prayer. What a friend! So, I thought I would share with you the interview that she recently gave. What has been left unsaid throughout is that also during this time her daughter was diagnosed with MS. This is the strongest and most caring woman I know.

An Interview

Testimony of Cancer Recovery

Even though I’m pretty much retired now I love keeping busy. And I've always looked at myself as being a very healthy person. But in 2005, I was working out in the yard at my home here in Georgia and noticed a mole on my arm.

I didn't know what it was at the time. I thought to myself, "Hmmmm, I wonder what that is?" Everything seemed just fine until that day, when I noticed a spot that had appeared on the upper portion of my arm … seemingly out of nowhere.

I asked a friend if she could recommend a good dermatologist to me since I’d never been to one before. So I made an appointment with the dermatologist and during my office visit he took a skin sample to send off so it could be tested. He said he'd call me within a few days to let me know how the tests came out.

The doctor ended up calling me the next morning. The diagnosis happened very quickly. He said the tests showed the growth was advanced melanoma and that it had to be cut out of my upper arm right away. I was then advised to make an appointment at Emory University in Georgia to schedule the operation.

I didn't panic immediately after receiving this diagnosis … not at first anyways. But when I went on the Internet and read about melanoma my heart sank down below my ankles. If I could have gone that day to get surgery I would have. I felt like the sooner I had surgery the better.

“You Are What You Eat”

My surgery went well on the day of the operation. The surgeon cut deep into my arm to remove the cancer and he was able to cut out all of the melanoma. Even though the cancer had been in a small area the doctor made a 6 to 8 inch incision in my arm because it was a muscular area.

After surgery the doctors recommended that I take further tests to see if the cancer had spread. They did that and far as we knew it hadn’t. That was a huge relief to me. But it was still like I’d received a message that I needed to buckle down and get on the path of eating better … especially making a commitment I wasn't going to deviate from it. I felt as if I needed to address my lymphatic system.

I had worked as dietician/food manager with a local elementary school system years ago. One of the things I'd heard on that job was, "You are what you eat." Back then those words didn't mean as much to me as they do now. But that phrase had been instilled into my subconscious.

I’d grown up in the city, but my family went to the country on weekends. We had a family garden and orchard there. But we also had a garden and orchard in the city.

Those kinds of experiences gave me the idea we need to eat “correctly.” The notion we need to eat right seemed very natural to me. So those thoughts came up in my mind like a neon sign when I was diagnosed with cancer.

Making a commitment to change my diet in a big way was huge. But I really thought, "I've got to tweak my diet somehow." So I started seeking out some alternative help for suggestions about how to improve upon what I was eating.

I went to a Chiropractor who suggested that I work to boost my immune system. And it wasn't long after that I went for a visit to a place called Hallelujah Acres.

Hallelujah Acres is a health organization I sought out. I'd found out about them through my nurse practitioner. She recommended them. I wasn't sure about the type of diet they advocated, but I worked through a health course taught by John and Judi Cecil, who shared with me what this lifestyle was all about. I really learned a lot.

I felt like I had to get very serious about my diet, especially when it came to my intake of vegetables. I’d always eaten lots of fruits and vegetables, even before discovering I had cancer. But I ate some hormone and anti-biotic free meat occasionally. But now I started eating a ton of green foods as well as all types of colored vegetables.

In addition to learning about diet, I also learned about the importance of juicing. I’d never juiced vegetables until I went through their program. I didn't have a juicer at the time. I didn't even know how to juice. But I discovered certain juicers are better than others. Now I encourage people to look at juicers closely to make sure they extract as many nutrients as possible.

They also covered the importance of exercise. Getting exercise is almost as important as eating vegetables and fruits if you ask me. For example, rebounding is a great exercise that uses a little round trampoline. You can use it right at home. There are a couple different rebounders that are really good. One has a stabilizing bar that helps you keep balance. It's very good for improving circulation in the body and improving the lymphatic system.

We also talked about the importance of just walking everyday, either outside or inside on a treadmill. Doing simple exercises to get oxygen into the system is a part of a daily routine.

“A Living Foods Diet”

I tried to follow a living food diet as much as possible, especially after learning more about it. There were times when I felt like I was taking 2 steps forward and one step back. But eventually I "committed to my commitment." I read things that kept me both uplifted and directed. You're quality of life isn't much unless you've got your health.

I cut out all white flour, white sugar and white rice. I gave up dairy at that time, in addition to other harmful things.

In addition to committing to a plant-based diet, I started taking lots of vitamin C and consuming a green drink called Barely Max, which contained lots of Chlorophyll. I also started taking some "whole food" supplements. Those are supplements that contain no synthetic ingredients.

We do not eat anything that is processed with MSG or corn syrup or other ingredients frequently found in processed foods either. I was privileged to hear Dr, Russell Blaylock speak last year. He is a neurosurgeon who has written a book called, “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills.” It’s about toxic taste enhancers, such as the sweetener in diet sodas, which can damage the brain.

I refer to artificial sweeteners as "Frankenfoods." If I do want to enjoy a sweet treat now and then I’ll use a bit of honey, agave nectar and maple syrup.

Another thing I did was start eating as organically as possible. Buying organic foods is highly recommended. I buy organic carrots from the Publix supermarket, which is close by my home. They always keep them for me in a cooler at the back of the store. They’ve been very good to me. I buy 25-pound bags of carrots at a time.

Both the Publix supermarket and a store called Ingles are offering more organic vegetables all the time. We live a long way off from the local organic market. It's quite a hike for me to get there, but I do visit it about once a month. We will have a local organic market in our county soon though.

My carrots are stored in a small refrigerator that one of my children used in their dorm room at college. I drink all of the organic carrot juice that I can.

One tip I feel is important when preparing foods is to never use olive oil when cooking. I use the olive oil for things that aren't going to be heated, but I use grape seed oil if I need to apply heat for a recipe. I use it for beans and legumes and things like that. I also like it for sautéing things like garlic and onions, which I love doing regularly.

We eat a lot of raw vegetables by themselves and salads with raw vegetables on top. I try to eat a salad at least 2 times a day. And I also try to get as many of my vegetables as I can within a 100-mile radius of my home because these will tend to be the freshest. This is especially true when buying organic.

My husband and I are incorporating more seeds into our diet than ever before too. And we really like products such as millet and quinoa. We also use a product called “Vegenaise” in place of mayonnaise, which can be found in a good health food store.

“Being Your Best While Here on this Earth”

I’d encourage any individual that if you do "fall off the wagon" then don't guilt yourself over it. Don't waste any time on guilt. It's a waste of energy. Don't even go there. Each day is a new day that God has made so just start over fresh each day and put it to the best use that you possibly can.

When I really got serious about diet I started feeling better. My brain even started working better. I got rid of what people call "brain fog." A part of this process involves cleansing your body of toxic chemicals and things you've accumulated throughout your life because of bad diet or unhealthy environment. A raw living diet will help the body "de-toxify" itself from impurities.

Food processors and juicers are great helpers when you eat raw. You can throw recipes together rather quickly when you've got good equipment to help prepare things easily.

That is where eating this way can be a little rough for some people at first because they can't afford to just go out and purchase the small appliances that make things easier. But if this is the case then you just have to chop, chop, chop on a cutting board. You don't need appliances but they can be convenient.

As far as I know the status of my health right now is great. I only plan to go to the doctor's once a year now for blood work. I don't take any blood pressure medicine. I don't take any cholesterol medicine. I live an active life and try to get into the sun at least 30 minutes each day.

I’d encourage anyone who is skeptical about changing their diet that if they continue doing what they've been doing then they’re going to continue getting what they’ve got. But they shouldn’t lose hope. If you lose hope then you lose an optimistic spirit.

If you’re getting concerned about your health then why not try this lifestyle? This isn't about doing a diet in order to get well so you can go back to eating junk. It's a lifestyle.

I'm very much into helping people with nutrition so they can get healthier at this time. Most of them hear about me through my ties in the local community and I also do some speaking in our area. I've spoken a lot to support groups where people have had health challenges.

I really believe in having a high quality of life. Quality of life is about being your best while you're here on earth. When it's your time to go then you can turn up your toes and so be it. But I'd rather be in good shape while I'm here on earth ... with energy and a good healthy mind.

I feel that if one has their health then it’s better than being a millionaire. I thank God daily for the information He sent to me about this lifestyle.