• Veggie Girl

My Cancer Diagnosis

Before I jump in to the details it will be helpful to go back in time. I had experienced traumatic events since a very young age. You may wonder what this has to do with anything. Stress, real or imagined, has a profound effect on us and to oversimplify things, damages our immune system. The cumulative effect of stress causes an eventual breakdown of the physical system. I can trace certain serious medical illnesses to particular events that took place usually within one or two years of the manifestation of that illness and diagnosis. Prolonged stress sets the stage for a traumatic event to push one over the proverbial edge. More on this later.

As a young child I was unwanted by both my parents and yet graciously my grandparents took me in and cared for me the best they could. It was told by family members that I suffered physical abuse and neglect prior to my grandparents taking me in. Growing up, I was an awkward child feeling alone in a world too big. I am grateful for the love that my grandparents tried to give and for the sacrifices they made to provide my necessities.

From a very young age I can remember being very clumsy. I still bear a small scar between my eyebrows from walking into the corner edge of the dining table. I can't guess how old I was, but I can imagine how tall I was when that happened. In school, I loathed sports and exercise or any activity that required coordination. Jumping ahead, I remain a klutz to this day, knowing now that this was an indicator of my health or lack thereof. Somehow I made it through childhood but the reason I make mention of it is because there were these and many other things that were "off," indicating that something was wrong.

In young adulthood stress began to set in due to bad and costly mistakes, setting off a long string of a drama-filled life. Not knowing how to deal with stress led to even more mistakes. From then on symptoms worsened but still went unnoticed or at the very least unwarranted. It is always easy to make excuses why one is not feeling well and when one does not feel well for a long time it becomes accepted that it is the norm. Could this be you? It was for me. I did not realize it is NEVER normal to feel discomfort and pain. Those are the red warning flags our body is giving to tell us, "Hey! Fix what's wrong!" For most of us, much of the time, the things that go wrong is because of something or a combination of things that we are doing or not doing. Genetics can be a factor however. But as many of my mentors say, genetics is the loaded gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger.

Hopefully by now I've set the stage for my eventual cancer diagnosis without getting too heady! Stress would not be the only contributor. There are many other things to consider. Environmental, such as pollution in our air, food and water and now the overload of electronic devices and cars, and cellphone towers in our neighborhoods can all affect us in a big way. Chemicals in our every day cleaning and personal products Poor and unbalanced diet. Improper rest and sleep. These are a few of the many things that can contribute to poor health and illness.

I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism when I was 27 years old. The doctor prescribed medication which helped alleviate my symptoms. About 4 years later I began eating plant-based foods, more fruit and veggies than ever before. I felt better and stopped taking my thyroid medication. What I found out many years later is that while medication can help with symptoms, the dosage would have likely kept increasing the longer I stayed on it because the underlying issue was not resolved. I was eventually diagnosed with Hashimoto's which is autoimmune hypothyroidism. Back when I was first diagnosed, they did not routinely test to see if it was autoimmune. My body was attacking itself all along! And although I adopted a plant-based diet and felt better, it was but short-lived as the increase of high carb foods (such as wheat breads) worsened my condition. After years of suffering and before gluten-free became a "thing," I understood that gluten was my arch-nemesis.

Even after being "gluten-free," I still continued to decline in health and my stomach and gut problems got worse. I had constant headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia-like pains, joint pain, skin rashes, brain fog. It was a daily battle to deal with and then came along several traumatic events and that's when I went over the edge.

Divorce, losing my aunt to suicide, losing my daughter to rebellious teenagerhood, and losing my best friend to cancer, all in succession with no time to recover in between events. One year after the last traumatic event took place, I was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia in January 2019.

As I write this, it has been two years since the diagnosis. It has been many ups and downs, a whole range of emotions, acceptance of what we must all face, and so many learning lessons. It is important to know that when I heard my diagnosis, I was not surprised by it. Acceptance was my very first learning lesson in this important chapter of my life. I then did my best to treat it naturally, rejecting conventional treatment. A lot has happened in these past two years and I hope to share portions of my journey here. Stay tuned for more.... -crystal

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