Recipes, Remedies and Reflections: How Leukemia changed our lives

HEAL YOUR LIFE

HEAL YOUR LIFE

Thanks for visiting and welcome to my Blog about the Recipes, Remedies and reflections that have been tools in our quest for Healthy Living.

Its important to share how my experiences brought me to this very moment…

The majority of my life I have been involved in sports, working out, eating right and overall healthy living. I have always believed that I am a healthy person who would live long and have healthy children…

Although I have been into fitness and healthy eating since I was a teenager, I experienced a rude awakening when in 1998, my 3 year old baby boy was diagnosed with leukemia and struggled for his life.

After two casts on each of his UNBROKEN but severely swollen arms, after bruising all over his body, after his legs went almost completely paralyzed, after drinking and urinating excessively (30 times a day), several different emergency rooms and doctors continued to tell me that my son was just a little boy growing and was very accident prone and probably faking his severe pain.

On the final day that permanently changed our lives, we were at a VERY FUN AND SPECIAL BIRTHDAY PARTY for a 4 year old. There were yummy appetizers, clowns everywhere, real mini trains to ride, games and magicians in every room… My son could not be any more excited!

As I held a camera to capture him running to jump on one of the trains, his legs gave out and my camera and heart sunk… I ran to scoop him up as he frowned with shock and confusion about his legs not working. He didn’t care about the pain, he had learned to live with pain this past year, he was just so darn sad about not getting on the mini train… AS I BELIEVED ALL ALONG, HE WAS NOT FAKING IT!

I rushed him to the ER once again. This time his legs didn’t work at all, his face was covered in red splotches, his hand was swollen, especially his pinky finger… The hospital kept us there for three days, they had eight doctors and specialist examine him from every department, however, none of them had a definitive diagnoses. The doctors suspected he had a rare disease that had not been discovered and tried to send us home with a, “We will call you”.

I had just finished receiving my Doctoral training and Childhood Leukemia was a big subject matter that stood out for me. Given all the symptoms my son had, I pleaded with the doctors to test for leukemia. I was told that leukemia was an impossible diagnoses and they refused to do a lumbar puncture because his blood work continued to be in the “normal range” and the insurance company would not approve it.

A lumbar puncture (also called a spinal tap) can be used to analyze the fluid in the spinal cord. This test is helpful for spinal tumor assessment and also for measuring whether certain cancers have spread to the brain. In this procedure, a special needle is inserted into the lower back spinal canal.

Needless to say, I learned there is no “Normal”, we are all unique, we don’t all fit in a nice little box!
I LITERALLY REFUSED TO LEAVE THE HOSPITAL with my baby who looked like he was on his death bed. Again, the doctors said without a solid diagnoses the insurance would not pay for our hospital stay or spinal tap. I felt as if I was in some kind of Twi-light Zone.  How was this happening, I had top of the line insurance?!?

I put up the fight of my life and what turned out to be the fight that saved my son’s life.  After I agreed to sign a hundred documents of liability and promised to pay for all of the costs involved, I was able to finally convince them to reluctantly perform the spinal tap.

The staff tried to force me to wait outside during the procedure, but I refused to leave my baby boy alone.

The hematologist who performed the lumbar puncture was supposed to be the best pediatric hematologist in the West Coast. As she tried to insert the long device in his spine, it would not give… it kept getting stuck. She kept shoving the device, she began to sweat, she kept trying different spots on his spine, and then she finally had to practically hammer it in him. I thought she was a quack.  Why did my little baby boy have to go through this?

Pookie was only semi-sedated so he was whaling and aching with pain as he arched his back with every poke.  His eyes rolled behind his head and he kept gasping. They assured me he would not remember a thing, but this brought no comfort to a frightened mommy watching her baby being jabbed by a doctor who said the procedure would be an easy in and out.  I had flashes of me yanking him off the table, running to the elevator and getting away from these people…

I will never forget the look of terror on that physician’s face.  She looked at me with a look of complete and utter disbelief and fear. After about 30 minutes- swarms of people started to surround me and offer me food and water, holding my hand and asking if I had family nearby.  All I could do was hold my baby really closely!

I had that sinking feeling inside but nobody was saying a thing… nobody! Later I learned they were all waiting for the official laboratory results to come in that would confirm his leukemia.  Apparently, the hematologist knew he had A.L.L. when the device would not go in his spine…

My son was so completely impacted with leukemia , the doctors had no idea how he was still alive. His poor little spine and bones were so brittle and his condition was so fragile that they immediately began emergency surgery.  They said if I had not brought him in, he probably would not have made it much longer…

Remember this is after several rounds of Emergency Room visits and about 20 doctors office visits who all said for about a year that he was a PERFECTLY HEALTHY boy…

Various health care professionals kept saying little boys who truly feel sick don’t smile so much and that everything was just fine! Over and over they kept saying that I was just a first time mommy who worried too much and he was just an active toddler with bruises and bumps.

All of a sudden the room started to spin, they had me sign tons of forms and started hooking him up to an IV. Before I could blink, my Pookie Bear was rushed into heart surgery to have have a port attached to his heart valve.  I remember the heart surgeon came in to sit with me, he held my hand and he slowly, calmly explained to me exactly where he was going to cut, and assured me he was going to be just fine.

I don’t know if my memory is accurate, but I could swear he was dressed in all white, that his hair was white and his teeth were the whitest I had ever seen… The surgeon was so kind and compassionate, he also looked and spoke softly like an angel. I think he walked on clouds and I even heard harps playing in the room… lol 🙂

As we sat there on pins and needles, I prayed to all that is good in this world and begged for my little baby to survive the surgery.  After what seemed like an eternity, my son came through the surgery with a smile and flying colors! My son asked for the food and ice cream I promised him and wanted to know when he could get up and play! He never complained… NOT ONCE! He was the strongest person I had ever met and I finally started to breath again!

I asked the doctors what caused this, what could I do to help him heal, what could I do??? What could I do??? Over and over I was told by the doctors that he had leukemia for so long that there was nothing I could do for him but make sure he receives his chemotherapy and radiation- and to never miss an appointment for the next several years.  I was told that he needed so much chemotherapy and radiation that if he was to survive, he probably would never write, draw or learn appropriately…

I refused to believe there was nothing I could do for my baby… I started to read and read and read… research, study and research some more! In addition, I started to read to HIM even more, we started practicing drawing, counting… I was not giving up on him and his developing brain.  I lived an hour away from my parents and due to his fragile state and suppressed immune system, only doctors, nurses and myself could be in his room, so 90% of the time it was just me and my baby boy. While he slept, I read, studied and learned about natural solutions.

I learned so much about how other countries were using Nature, such as fresh juicing, organic eating, detoxing and healthy living to help cure diseases of all types.  I immediately started juicing for my baby boy.  I immediately worked hard to remove any known toxins from his environment… When we were not at the hospital, he was getting tons of sunshine and fresh beach air.  We went completely Organic and removed all pesticides, hormones and antibiotics from our diet.  Our life style dramatically and permanently changed.  Although the doctors convinced me that I had to give him chemotherapy for the next three years, I elected to not give him radiation so he could have a chance at having children.

The doctors warned me that it would take forever to get the cancer out of his system, that he would test positive for leukemia many times before he would be clear, but instead of more bad news, we were told that something INCREDIBLE happened- he went from having a poor prognosis for survival to having no sign of Cancer! Yes, that’s right, after his first round of chemotherapy, he never tested positive for leukemia again.

Was it the chemotherapy, was the intense juicing, detoxing and healthy smoothies?

Was it the organic eating, natural remedies, was it the positive affirmations and his positive attitude or was it the millions of prayers he was receiving? Honestly, I think it was all of the above!

We lived in and out of the hospital for the next three years… For the first year, at least 5 to 7 days of the week we lived at the hospital or the Ronald McDonald House.
His struggle touched so many people, he received hundreds of food casseroles, cards, drawings, donations, prayers and love from so many people. I am so thankful for my incredible boss who gave me the time off, who never complained and my parents who would come when my son’s immune system was strong enough.

We had to live in a bubble for so long because every time he was exposed to family or the public he contracted a virus or illness and became very sick.

This was a dark time in our lives, however, staying positive and searching for cures and treatments inspired me and kept me going.

Many of the parents in the Children’s Cancer ward lived in a state of anxiety and fear… Kids silently disappeared in the wee hours of the night- some were his roommates, some were the kids he played with in the playroom a couple of days before. Code Blue! Code Blue! Nurses running, doctors running… a sudden silence, but nobody said a word!  Everybody praying for that code blue baby, everybody praying that their baby was not next.

My son never complained about the chemo, about the vomiting, about the large shots, about the regular lumbar punctures… he just wanted yummy food and wanted to know why his hospital friends kept disappearing?

I was determined from that moment forward to learn how to help these kids and their parents… How are Food, Nature and Healthy Living Skills capable of helping kids and adults live healthier lives?

Why are we not applying these natural remedies in this country?  I learned how genetics play a role in diseases, how genes combined with our partners genes play a role.  I learned so much about food and what a gamble it is to just buy food off the shelf with out knowing or understanding what is on the ingredient list.

Pharmaceuticals do have a place in our world, but not always the big role they have created!

Fast forward, my oldest son is now an adult with a son of his own… He has never tested positive for leukemia again. His treatment protocol lasted about 5 years instead of three years, however, he can read, write, count and is very articulate and an extremely intelligent young man in college.  I cried with joy the first time he drew a picture, the first time he completed a math problem, when he learned how to read and of course when he gave me my first grandchild.

It turned out that the original hematologist who diagnosed my son was a wonderful and compassionate woman. She and all of the other oncologists, nurses and volunteers have one of the toughest jobs in the world.  They all were doing their best with the information they had been taught in their traditional schools. Nobody had taken the time to tell them that there are things we can do to make the Chemo treatment plan more effective and that food can indeed play an active role in healing.

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I have since continued my educational training and I became a Holistic Nutritionist as well. I have another baby boy who is now approaching 10 years old. He has had his own struggles with health… various gastro-intestinal issues that were a result of antibiotic exposure at birth.  This time I thought I was ready to take anything on, this time I was prepared, again, I continue to learn that we don’t know what we don’t know.

So what are the genetics involved with leukemia and other diseases? What is the real prenatal care you can do that many doctors are too busy to tell you about? Why are some healthy foods a “Medicine” for you but a “Poison” to others?  How are allergies related to disease? Are eczema and psoriasis just no big deal?

Most of all, I have learned to trust myself as a mommy… to tell every parent I know to trust those natural parent instincts… your parental instincts are powerful and they were given to you to protect your young!

Every child is different, if you feel something is wrong, then check it out! Do the research! Get a second and third opinion until you feel at total peace!

I am looking forward to sharing my recipes, remedies and reflections with you! Thank you to all the parents who have confided their painful and happy baby stories and pregnancy experiences. I can tell you that hearing your voice transform from fear and confusion to empowerment, peace and understanding has made this long journey worth while!

Thanks again, see you soon and please feel free to request a topic of interest! Dr. Dee

Recipes, Remedies and Reflections: How Leukemia changed our lives

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