I have come to realize that health isn’t something you have. It is a journey and it can be unpredictable. My health journey this far is not what I would have expected. I have already had my fair share of surprises, but thankfully the most unexpected turns have been very good.
This is part of my story is difficult to share. It seems overly personal to splash out some of my deepest losses and greatest victories for you to read. I have wrestled for years over sharing the personal details of my story in such a public way. It may be that some of my families live in the woods and mind your own business genes are at work here. Finally, the hope that my story will encourage and help someone else has overcome my fear of oversharing. So here it goes…
I grew up hearing the word cancer all the time. It seemed to me that everyone received a cancer diagnosis if they lived to be anywhere near “old”. I was raised by my Grandparents and spent a lot of time around the more mature crowd by volunteering at a nursing home. My Grandma often talked about her mother, father and other loved ones who had all died of cancer. It seemed common place that people we knew received the diagnosis and sometime during their treatments would pass away. It was a sad reality to me as a child. Life seemed short and I wanted to be healthy. I knew food must have something to do with health, but I wasn’t sure what.
My family ate a melting pot diet of modern American food and old Northwest diet. Wild game and seafood were everyday fare as was white processed bread, chips and other junk. I remember going to work with my Grandma and eating fast food for breakfast and lunch then home to eat fresh caught fish and corn from our garden for dinner. For me this was normal. We ate Asian foods sometimes and shopped for them at the Asian market in Seattle. I didn’t ever have pasta or tacos at home, but we often had smoked salmon, venison steak and shrimp. I was in my late teens before I tasted an avocado and twenty when I tried my first mango.
My family heath history wasn’t so pretty. I remember thinking that it was too bad I was born with such bad genes. My Grandpa was one of the first people to be diagnosed with Crohns Disease in the U.S. He was my favorite person growing up and I was sad to see him in constant pain. To cope with paid he drank and used prescription drugs, which led to addictions. He walked me down the aisle on my wedding day and died of cancer the following week at age 59. It felt like everyone else in my family had major problems with various addictions, metal heath problems (depression/anxiety, etc.), obesity, asthma, allergies and then there was arthritis. My father died in his thirty’s. My mother was not well most of my life and has since died of cancer treatment. By my teens I had already fought off obesity, battled with depression and been diagnosed and medicated for allergies and arthritis.
In my early twenties despite being my ideal weight, adhering strictly to the diet of the day (low fat) and mostly vegetarian. I exercised daily, but with all my effort I still wasn’t well. I didn’t think my health problems were uncommon in any way. It seemed like people all around me were taking pills and dealing with their own health issues. I was daily medicating with a combination of hormone pills, pain medication for my arthritis and allergy medication. I had experienced frequent ear infections since I was a child. My health took a turn for the worse when I started to get frequent infections, sometimes several times each month. I had chronic ear, sinus and bladder infections for several years. My doctor said that each instance was unrelated, but after a couple of years he recommended tonsillectomy. I hated the idea of missing more work so I procrastinated setting a date for surgery. We were also just coming to terms with the fact we might not be able to have children without intervention. I was experiencing all of the symptoms of PCOS (Polycistic Ovary Syndrome) and despite “trying” we were given little hope of naturally conceiving a child. This is the part of my story where organic food and my health collided. When the dust settled everything had changed.