On October 31, 2005, my father passed away from complications related to an autoimmune disease. Six years later, in September 2011, after many visits to various doctors and numerous lab tests, I was diagnosed with the same disease—systemic lupus with a positive double marker of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). My ANA was 1:40 and very specific for lupus. Likewise, I was experiencing the symptoms related to autoimmune diseases including stiff and painful joints, extreme fatigue, and frequent urinary tract infections.
Since there is no known medical cure for lupus, I was expected to begin a regimen of prescription medications including a very strong steroid called prednisone and hydroxychloroquine sulfate. Stronger medications would be added accordingly as the disease progressed, and other organs such as the kidneys, heart and lungs were very likely to be attacked.
In short, my life changed in an instant and I was devastated. The most difficult thing was telling my husband and son the grim reality—my diagnosis of systemic lupus. It would undoubtedly change their lives too.
I have never been one to take prescription drugs unless I absolutely had to. I have always researched the medications prescribed by my physicians and this time was no different. However, when I read of all the side effects associated with my lupus medications, I was stunned. Knowing that these medications would not cure the disease but simply manage my symptoms, I was not convinced that they were worth taking!
I spoke to one of my doctors regarding my reservations. She got very firm with me and told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to trust her and do what I was told if I wanted to get through this. Immediately, I scheduled a second opinion. Likewise, my second doctor told me that she had no qualms with the prescribed medications and felt that they were safe. In fact, she went on to say she would even feel comfortable enough to prescribe them to her own mother. Obviously, I was on my own in finding healthier alternatives.
I wondered if it were really possible to manage such a severe disease naturally. Near my home is a raw food smoothie business called RAWk Star. I decided to stop in to see what type of food they offered and perhaps speak with someone who could answer my questions regarding foods and the immune system. Little did I know that this information would forever transform my health.
I met the owners (Karen and Adam) who spent many hours discussing raw, organic, vegan diets. Furthermore, they introduced me to Dustin Rudolph who graciously spent time teaching me the importance of cutting out caffeine, sugars, whites (processed flours, sugars, dairy products and salt), meat and processed foods. They explained that in order to stop a disease in its track, I would have to make a commitment to this new diet as a lifestyle change and adhere to it with fidelity.
They asked what my motivation would be to stay on it when temptation came along? Without hesitation I said, “To grow old with my husband, watch my son graduate from college, dance at his wedding and hold my grandchildren!”
I implemented everything they shared with me. I used a strategy of 90 percent raw and 10 percent lightly cooked vegan recipes. March 2012, I visited the RA specialist to get the results of yet another set of lab tests. Her final comments were as follows: prior positive ANA, now negative and with a negative serologic workup. NO EVIDENCE of lupus. Clinically she [me] is feeling very well with diet and exercise.
To date, I am feeling healthy. My energy level has returned, which is wonderful because my husband and I will attend my son’s graduation, dance at his wedding, and have energy to keep up with future grandchildren.
Update (August 2015)
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