Archive for cancer

“Max told me to go home and read the Word of Wisdom 20 times”

ryan-egbertBy: Ryan Egbert

My health journey started when I was 13. My best friend and I challenged each other to go one month without carbonation. After succeeding I realized there was no point in starting again when everyone knows it is healthier to not drink carbonation. It was a small challenge for me but before long I had fully adapted, and I had no desire to drink carbonated drinks.

Around the same time a school teacher showed us a video of the ironman triathlon held in Hawaii. I remember seeing people in their 80’s accomplishing this amazing physical challenge. For weeks after I thought to myself, “I want to be that healthy when I am a grandpa.” I wondered how someone became that healthy. I thought mostly about the exercise program and hadn’t considered that diet might be the primary issue.

At the age of 16, a friend’s father mentioned meeting someone who competes in the Ironman. I jumped all over the opportunity and arranged a meeting.

Max Burdick (known as IronMax) was a 76-year-old man who didn’t just shake your hand; it became a tug of war to pull you over. Max started our conversation by telling me his story. He was dying of cancer around the age of 40. An acquaintance from his high school came to visit him in the hospital. He told Max that his father had been diagnosed with cancer. His father prayed and fasted and went to the temple. He believed that God knew how to cure his cancer. Finally he had a spiritual experience in reading that “the destroying angel will pass them by” (D&C 89:21) and knew that the Word of Wisdom was God’s answer to how he could overcome his cancer. Max’s friend had used the same diet to overcome his cancer and now he was telling it to Max. He told me he realized what an “outrageous” claim he was making, but that he was living proof that it is true.

He told Max to read D&C 89 twenty or so times before he came back to visit him. Max read and upon meeting again Max learned the diet. After a few months on this diet, Max said the doctors claimed it was a miracle because he was cancer free.

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“The most horrible, wonderful experiences of our lives”

Randy and Olga CamporaBy: Randy Campora

Dat, dat…, da dat dat dat – dat daa dat dat dat daaaa dat.

That is the opening phrase of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet. As the bass trombonist in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for the past thirty years I have heard those violin notes hundreds of times, and in December 2014, the notes were the same as always. We were playing in the orchestra pit of the Lyric Theater in Baltimore for an entire week of Nutcrackers with the ballet corps of the Baltimore School for the Arts.

But this year, those notes did not sound the same. Or I should say, my mind as it heard those notes was not the same.

This year, I had cancer. My mind struggled to focus, though the familiar music and setting were a nice distraction for me. But as soon as the music stopped the thought came immediately back: I had esophageal cancer, stage yet to be determined.

I was fifty-three years old, at least a hundred pounds overweight, a recent inductee of the Type II Diabetes Club. I was also the possessor of more blessings from God than I knew what to do with: Olga, my wonderful yoga teaching wife; Dominik, our trumpet playing oldest son on a mission in Poland; and Raffi, our math wiz youngest son with the dry sense of humor. I was a member of the best ward in the church. I had a job I liked, with great health insurance. The complete list would assault you with its length.

That September I had choked on a piece of food at dinner. My wife had just completed a CPR course, so she successfully executed the Heimlich two-step and I could breathe. But a few minutes later I realized that something was stuck down near the stomach because I could not drink or eat anything. A trip to the ER took care of the problem: Dr. Solaiman removed the piece of chicken stuck in the valve at the top of the stomach.

He was surprised to find Barrett’s Esophagus—a pre-cancerous condition usually caused by chronic acid reflux that changes the tissue to something more resembling an intestine. He performed biopsies, which came back clear. He wanted to be sure nothing was hiding there, so another round of biopsies was done three months later. This time the cancer cells were found, along with some aggressive markers.

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“Man is not made to eat flesh”

Albert SchindlerBy: Albert Schindler

Roughly three years ago—I was 81 years old at the time—I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. My right kidney was so cancerous that the doctors gave me zero percent chance of saving it, so it was surgically removed. The cancer spread to my bladder. Consequently, over about a period of a year and a half, I had 12 chemotherapy sessions and several non-surgical probes to get the cancer in remission. Several of these chemo sessions left me with a bladder infection that took antibiotics to cure. Needless to say, my health was in a very precarious situation.

It was the twelfth, and last chemo session, plus an infection that really got the best of me. My entire body, from the neck down, ached terribly. The experience lasted for roughly two days. I say “roughly” because for the most part I was in a daze and had no recollection of time. Because of the pain, I couldn’t sleep, and I could barely stay awake. I ached if I sat up, and I ached if I tried to lie down. Near the end of this time, I suppose because I was so lacking sleep plus so weak from the pain, I started to experience hallucinations.

I had several different hallucinations, but of interest to this story is near the end when I saw before me a large grid that resembled a giant-sized, brown “Weetabix,” like is found in a Weetabix cereal box. I had a bucket in my hand and I was trying to dip out the pain I felt in various parts of my body from one square of the grid and pour it into another square. I was becoming more and more frustrated. This didn’t work! My pain was still one hundred percent there, only I kept shifting it around!

After what seemed like an eternity of fruitless dipping to end my pain, something within me said, “You have to get rid of the pain, not just mask it by trying to hide it somewhere else.” In other words, dipping it out of one Weetabix square and pouring it into another square wasn’t the answer. What was of special interest after that “Aha! moment” was a very clear, audible voice that said to me, “Man is not made to eat flesh.”

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“I have the goal of never needing medication”

Debi ReynoldsBy: Debi Reynolds

I grew up in California. We were a health-conscious family, although I didn’t know it at the time. It was just how we lived—lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and my parents were good examples of being active. But we also ate plenty of hamburgers, milk, ice cream, and treats. The Word of Wisdom was introduced to me when I was 17 and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although my parents are not members, they learned a bit about the Church at that time and were interested in the Word of Wisdom. I remember that they said to me, “The Church members may not smoke or drink, but they have their vices. You are joining a fat church. If this information is in the scriptures, and the members believe the scriptures are true, why don’t they follow the counsel?” And that’s a very good question. Why aren’t we LDS people a healthier example to the world?

My husband grew up on a potato farm in Idaho. They were a “meat and potatoes” family. His grandparents, who lived a few hours away, owned a dairy farm, so butter, cream and whole milk were plentiful when they visited. Some of their family’s favorite foods were creamed peas and new potatoes, Sunday roasts with potatoes and gravy, big farm meals to keep the workers filled. Bread and butter were on the table at every meal. There were always lots of sugary desserts and treats. They grew a big garden and canned everything. This diet was typical for that small, farming community.

Randy and I met in college, married, and had four children. Early in our marriage I had major surgery to correct an unknown birth defect and lost the use of one kidney. After recuperating, I was determined to be healthier than ever, eat well, and exercise. But as our family got busier, I turned to convenience foods— pizza, cold cereal, burgers, like everyone else. I always loved fruits and vegetables, but my finicky kids did not eat many vegetables and I’m sorry to say that I gave in to them rather than fight.

At age 32, I went back to college, taking 1-2 night classes each semester. This was a very stressful time as my husband was called up to serve in Desert Storm with his Navy Reserve unit. I was on my own with four young children for nine months while he served. I continued on with college, finally having to commute to USU in Logan for my last five years. I started to have feelings of anxiety that I did not understand. They were horrible and lasted for over ten years. I don’t remember what my family ate. I could barely swallow food during this time, but I battled through, finally receiving two college degrees at age 42.

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“I went on my knees and asked for His help”

Elodie Picard FamilyBy: Elodie Picard

I am a 34-year old native of France, currently living in Austria. I was born into the covenant. I am blessed with a loving and supportive husband, Paul, and we take great joy in rearing our three children in the Gospel: Eva, 13 years old, Jérôme, 11 years old, and Lynn, 5 years old.

For a long time, I believed that my family was eating healthy. I always cooked from scratch with lots of fruits and vegetables. We ate meat once a week, some form of dairy products daily, and I limited our consumption of sweets. I took great pleasure in preparing tasty meals for my family and friends that I thought were nutritious.

In October 2011, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I followed the normal procedures and had it surgically removed a week after my diagnosis. Unfortunately, I experienced surgical complications. My laryngeal nerve was severed (I have now a paralyzed left vocal cord), and I also suffered from “permanent hypoparathyroidism.” As a consequence, I started to experience serious hypocalcemic attacks. The specialists responded by administering massive doses of calcium (12 times the daily recommended dose) along with vitamin D. They told me that it was the only way to avoid the attacks and that I should also eat lots of dairy products to get as much calcium as possible. However, they also warned me that those supplements would eventually damage my kidneys permanently. Nevertheless, they could offer no other treatment.

Then I did what any child of God does in this situation—I went on my knees and asked for His help. I knew our Heavenly Father is the maker of our bodies, and He would know what to do. So day after day I prayed.

The months following my cancer treatment, I was not doing well physically. I was vomiting a lot. I lost the sense of taste (every food I ate had absolutely no flavor), and I was extremely tired and nauseous . . . To add to all that, the tumors came back right were my thyroid was. Since I was in no shape to go through the treatment all over again, I refused it.

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“Hodgkin’s Lymphoma made me the perfect student”

Katherine ScottBy: Katherine Scott

One of the most liberating pieces of knowledge I have learned is that the human body has the ability to heal itself. It has the power to heal any ailment or disease. Changing the diet is the ticket. If we continue to feed our bodies the same foods that made us sick in the first place (the typical dead American diet), then the body will not have the vitality it needs to heal. Changing to a vegan, living food diet provides the vitality for each cell in the body to detox and heal. This information is the hidden treasure that has been buried and most of us never find it, but “when the student is ready the teacher appears.” I WAS READY!

Nine months of chemical onslaught from conventional treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma made me the perfect student. I was ready to soak up everything I needed to know to get out from under the grip of fear. The fear of the cancer reoccurring was with me every moment of every day. I held a negative vision of a dire prognosis during my first check-up scan after I had finished treatment. I thought to myself, “I can’t live like this, fearing the worst.”

I wanted a day without fear. Ann Wigmore did more than that. She opened the door for me to the knowledge of green juices, living foods, and a way of eating that restores the body’s ability to heal itself. The information that is contained in her book, The Wheatgrass Book, inspired me so much that I immediately followed the instructions on how to grow wheatgrass. I don’t recall it being difficult. I obtained trays, organic soil, organic seeds, and a set of shelves, and set them up in my kitchen. I was living in London at the time and had no problem growing it. I took delight in seeing how quickly the grass grew.

The juice didn’t taste all that great, but I knew it was powerful stuff. There were times when just the smell of the grass juice would make me feel nauseated. I remedied that by holding my nose as I drank it! Because I knew it was good for me I religiously consumed 2 ounces of juice every morning. That wasn’t too hard to do for my health and peace of mind. That was way back in 1996, and I am thankful to say I have not needed the service of a physician since that time.

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“When I was 28 years old, I was told I had cancer”

James Max ChristensenBy: James Max Christensen

After I married in 2005, I asked my wife, “Where is the meat?” I wanted meat with every meal because that is how I grew up. My loving wife graciously accommodated me. She is so kind and understanding. . . . but now she makes every meal without meat for me!

My patriarchal blessing talks about the Word of Wisdom. I have never smoked, never drank alcohol, tea, nor coffee, and never done drugs. I played on my high school basketball team and exercised quite often while trying to be healthy and eat my vegetables. But when I was 28 years old, I was told I had cancer. This started my quest to be healthy and whole, to understand the counsel in my patriarchal blessing and to better follow the Word of Wisdom. I started studying the Word of Wisdom in depth because I want to embrace the truth and obey all of God’s commands.

In 2011, through a series of many unordinary events, such as taking a day off of work to attend a seminar an hour away from home because I felt a strong spiritual prompting to do so, I met someone that did not eat meat. He told me that he chooses not to eat meat because he read a book called The China Study. At first, I was kind of afraid to know what the book might say, but I decided that I wanted to know the truth, even if that meant giving up something I loved. The title seemed intriguing, so I checked it out from the library. It changed my life forever.

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I heard the Savior say, “You are going to be okay”

Patty ButtsBy: Patty Butts

My journey with chronic fatigue began over twenty years ago when I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction (CFIDS) and Fibromyalgia (FMS). I was so ill my doctor wanted to give me medical disability. After four years of agony, I finally said to my doctor, “I either want to get better or I want to die.”

Since then, I have drastically changed my diet, recovered, finished a doctoral degree in Holistic Nutrition, and have more energy than I did 30 years ago. My passion now is to educate others and give them hope for recovery.

It began with a sudden onset. I had gone on the Fit for Life diet, eating fruit in the morning and vegetables in the afternoon. I didn’t realize I had candida and eating fruit was like pouring gasoline on a fire….fueling systemic candida. I felt like a walking corpse. While trying to walk or get out of bed in the morning, it seemed as if I was beating a dead horse.

With each step I took my feet felt like I was walking on pins and needles. The pain was excruciating, not only in my feet, but in every joint and muscle. My lymph nodes ached and were swollen. My kidneys, my liver, and my spleen hurt. My doctor did a round of blood tests and found the blood tests were normal. Nothing was wrong with me. I felt like I was dying, and he found nothing wrong with me.

My doctor prescribed an anti-depressant that caused tardis dyskinesia (swelling of the tongue because of an allergic reaction to medication). My tongue became thick, and I couldn’t enunciate my words properly. My mouth was constantly dry. While attempting to sleep, I felt like I was doing round after round of backward somersaults. My life was so out of control I thought I might die and knew I could if I stopped fighting to get well and just stayed in bed. When I stopped taking the antidepressant, the side effects of dyskinesia went away.

The doctor then referred me to a counselor who recommended Prozac as the panacea for everything. By the first week I was more depressed than ever and by the second week I felt suicidal. Since then I have learned about the gene mutation MTHFR that doesn’t allow the liver to detoxify. Therefore, taking a medication that the liver cannot detoxify can cause suicidal feelings. All mental health begins in the gut. The counselor recommended doubling the dosage. No way was I going to double the dose. I had done some research and found I was not the only one who responded to Prozac that way.

Some of my friends and family thought I was faking my illness because I looked okay. Others knew me to be hard working and dedicated and knew I was really ill. I looked okay, but I couldn’t stand up without leaning on a wall because I was so weak and dizzy. My short-term memory was fouled up. Concentrating and thinking was a chore and trying to read was difficult. I wondered if I had an early onset of Alzheimer’s. I was depressed, and it seemed I was being sucked into a black hole.

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“I decided it was time to make a change”

Kent Gardiner

By: Kent Gardiner

In 1974 I proposed to my wife, and we went to pick out a ring. She had her heart set on one with six small diamonds around a central diamond. She would always tell people that the six diamonds represented the children she wanted and that I was her center diamond.

While Suzanne was pregnant with our sixth child, she discovered a lump in her breast. We were not too concerned because we didn’t think she had any of the risk factors for cancer, but after the biopsy, we learned she had 13 cancerous lymph nodes. We went to UCLA to find out how she got cancer and what we should do.

When we asked Suzanne’s oncologist, Dr. Glasby, how she got cancer, he told us it was too many pizzas, meaning too much fat. I thought a lot about his statement and later when we sat down to our usual pork chop meal, I looked at her and said, “It seems to me that we are eating the same foods that got us into this mess; let’s change.” That was all well and good, but change to what? Neither of us had a clue.

Suzanne had a bone marrow transplant at UCLA and bravely fought the cancer. After the normal cancer therapy she became aware of the Gerson diet. We invited an expert on the diet into our home, and she helped us prepare some meals and taught us how to juice carrots and green drinks. The diet was so intense Suzanne’s eyes turned orange. Unfortunately by that time the disease had progressed too far, and in September of 1994 she died.

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Borderline omnivore activist goes plant-based

Devin BarnesBy: Devin Barnes

“Oh! . . . ok . . . cool . . . why?”

Typically that’s the response I get when people find out I’m a vegan. But I can’t blame them; vegans are so strange.

At least that’s what I thought three years ago. In fact, I was so opposed to any form of vegetarianism I was borderline omnivore activist. “For so many reasons you should eat meat,” I would argue, “plants alone don’t provide adequate protein or iron. And why else would God create all these animals? It’s not like He gave us canines by accident. And I don’t recall the scriptures ever referring to the land of soymilk and honey . . . ”

I could have written a 20-page persuasive essay. Needless to say, I was passionate about meat. But honestly, deep down I pitied vegetarians. Meat is delectable! In-N-Out, Outback Steakhouse, Chic-fil-A . . . All could be classified as “Heavenly.” Vegans were beyond my understanding. Give up eggs and dairy too? Butter, milk, cheese, ice cream?? You take all the fun out of eating!

You can imagine my surprise when I gave up all animal products early in 2012.

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