We are both in our 80s and are all about healthy aging with a whole food, plant-based eating lifestyle. We would like to share our personal stories on how we both overcame life-threatening illnesses and went on to lead very healthy, happy, and long lives.
After returning home from a trip to China in the fall of 1992, I started feeling some minor muscular changes but didn’t think too much of it. But then one day, I woke up and couldn’t open one eye.
I went to my doctor, who took one look at me and said he thought I had Bell’s palsy. I then said to him, “No, I think it’s myasthenia gravis.” I don’t know why I said that since MG is a very rare neuromuscular disease that even most doctors don’t know much about. He sent me to a neurologist, though, who did a simple test and confirmed that my self-diagnosis was correct!
I was told that MG was incurable, that I would have to be on medication for the rest of my life, and that my life expectancy would be shortened. In other words, my situation was hopeless.
I was prescribed several heavy-duty drugs, including prednisone, and was told that there wasn’t much else that could be done. I suffered with severe double vision, had difficulty with my speech and swallowing, and at times I was so weak I couldn’t hold my head up.
But I chose not to accept that “verdict.” Instead, I kept searching for ways to improve my health. I started practicing tai chi and qigong. I walked several miles each day. I tried to eat healthier (white meat chicken, turkey, and fish), although at the time I didn’t know much about what was and wasn’t healthy! I was very sick at times and even wound up in the ICU for 5 days because of bad advice from an internationally known neurologist.
During my illness, I continued to search for some hope for a cure and wound up seeing 11 different neurologists! They all said about the same thing as the first one. And not one suggested a change in lifestyle, including diet, as a possible remedy.
Then, in 2006, I heard a clinical nutritionist speak. He explained that eating animal products compromises the immune system, and he recommended that patients with MG or any autoimmune disease switch to a whole food, plant-based diet. I immediately did so, and in just a few months, I was off all medications and no longer had any symptoms of this dreaded disease!
It is now 14 years later, and I feel safe in saying that I no longer have this “incurable” disease. I am very thankful.
In 2006, I also developed a serious health issue. I learned that I had a small tumor on the outside of my left kidney. My urologist advised me to have it removed right away. I went to a world-class medical center in North Carolina and had cryoablation surgery, a procedure that froze the tumor off. Unfortunately, the tumor was malignant.
The surgeon advised me that he got the entire growth but explained that this type of tumor has been known to return. He never brought up the idea that changing what I ate could help prevent a recurrence of my cancer.
But thanks to my wife, Fran, and my desire to lessen the chance of recurrence, I also adopted a whole food, plant-based diet as a means of prevention and have been cancer-free for 14 years. I, too, am very thankful. But wait, there’s more! We heard that my surgeon has since switched to the same diet as ours!
So there you have it: our own stories on how switching to a whole food, plant-based diet can work not only to reverse disease but can also prevent it. We are now feeling better than ever, and it is our privilege to share our stories and hopefully inspire others.
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