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T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies
How The China Study Gave Me Children (and Hope)

I still remember the sadness on my doctor’s face as he detailed my reproductive problems and delivered the blow: “You’ll never be able to have children.” Stage 4 endometriosis, he said. Ovarian and uterine cysts, he said. Advanced reproductive disease, he said. Finally, we had an answer to the excruciating pain I had been in for the past six months. There was no way to treat it, he said, except with a hysterectomy. My heart sank. Was there nothing I could do?

I was 27 years old and had just finished serving in the Air Force. While studying engineering in college and later in the military, my inner circle was largely male, and so was my diet. I had a big appetite and high metabolism and had adopted their typical eating habits. It was not uncommon for me to have a double cheeseburger and coke for breakfast (or maybe two!). After my time in Iraq, I became a civilian, working at a large engineering company. Again, I was surrounded by men in their 20s, who seemed to at least partly define their manhood by the meat they could eat. I followed suit. Somehow, publicly defiling vegetables made me “tough” and confident enough to hang with the guys—both in the war and the office.

Knowing what I know now and looking back on this conversation with my doctor, I am flabbergasted that he never asked about nutrition. He had no interest in my deplorable diet. He saw it as unrelated to my poor health despite many scientific studies linking dairy products, hormones, sugar, and caffeine to reproductive disease.

As is often true, my life was changed forever by a slight twist of fate. A friend asked if I’d thought about what I was eating. I said no. I was going along with my doctor’s claims that I had no responsibility here and that it was “Just one of those things that happens to some women.” Like a good friend, she connected me with a nutritionist anyway. From him, I learned how dairy, sugar, processed foods, lack of fiber, and caffeine can negatively affect a woman’s reproductive system.

I rejected it. But still, I wanted to tell my mother I had tried everything while waiting for my hysterectomy, so I changed my diet anyway. For six weeks, I ate only whole plant foods. Mostly broccoli, brown rice, and beans because this Cajun girl had no idea how to cook anything else without butter and shrimp.

Although I was feeling somewhat better (and was in total denial that my food changes mattered), I went ahead with the laparoscopy that my doctor had ordered to determine how much of my reproductive system could “make the cut” and be spared a future as medical waste. But only 20 minutes into the procedure, it was over. My doctor was dumbfounded and confused. He said about 95% of my endometriosis was gone. There was significant scarring, but the only remaining endometriosis had formed an adhesion around my colon, connecting it to my abdominal wall (ouch!). As he explained my inexplicable healing, my mom asked if my new diet had been the source of recovery. He quickly laughed and answered, No.

While I was ecstatic that I hadn’t had the hysterectomy, part of me inside was freaking out. How was I supposed to eat like this for the rest of my life??

Thanks to resources like The China Study,, The Cancer Project, the Kushi Institute, and others, I eventually navigated my way to tasty food that was easy to make. After about six months of eating whole-plant foods, I saw some dramatic changes. My cholesterol dropped from 178 to 128, I lost over 50 pounds, and I saw new hair growth. My reproductive problems never returned. The biggest benchmark for me was realizing that the fibrotic cysts I had in my breasts since puberty were completely gone. This is something I thought women in my family were destined to have. We all had them, from my mother and grandmother to my cousin. To see them completely dissolve told me there was something we could do about genetic predisposition. How freeing!

From then on, my life’s work changed. I study nutrition profusely and obsess over sharing this information with others. How many other women have opted for a hysterectomy because they don’t realize how much control they have over their reproductive health? TOO MANY. When NBC News aired my story, I heard from hundreds of women who wished they’d known. On this new journey, I left engineering to begin teaching cooking & nutrition classes for The Cancer Project (now PCRM) and then for the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. My subsequent work with thousands of students opened my eyes and reinvigorated me to share the power of a plant-based diet. I’ve witnessed the reversal of dozens of debilitating ailments: type 2 diabetes, arthritis, IBS, colitis, breast cancer, gout, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, Crohn’s disease, osteoporosis, and many others. My favorite topic to explain is the importance of dietary fiber, which I believe is the root of most healing.

My real blessings came in 2011 and 2013 when I gave birth to healthy, plant-based boys. Both were conceived naturally and benefitted greatly from my vegan pregnancies. They are strong, healthy, and thriving. And they serve as a daily reminder of the power of our food choices. Our regular breakfasts are quinoa, sweet potatoes, and beans; or grits, greens, and tofu. They’re wild over my green smoothies, and I pray I’ve given them a different start in life than I had. I hope they will define their manhood by their willingness to live a long, healthy life and care for their families. I hope they’ll cast the typical definition of manhood behind (along with the heart disease, cancer, and diabetes that tend to accompany it) and embrace a diet that will bless them with longevity and, hopefully, the ability to be healthy and alert enough to meet their great-great-grandchildren. I hope their character and desire for vitality and love will sustain them through the criticism they’re sure to receive (and already do at a tender age) over their dietary choices.

Cheers to the men in the world who make this choice. It is selfless to forego bacon in favor of something life-promoting. I’m proud and grateful to have contributed two more men to the world, thanks to Dr. Campbell and the mountain of work he has done in this field.

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