Back in my mid-twenties, I was struck with a mystery illness. I was living in Northern California in spiritual community with other people, and many of them were also ill. I was walking around with a feeling of flu all the time. I had constant pounding headaches. But the worst of it was the neurological symptoms that made me feel as if I was going crazy. My mind was in a complete fog. I felt like I had no ability to think or reason. My short-term memory was gone.
I had systemic yeast overgrowth and could hardly eat anything. My food sensitivities were so bad that the only foods I could tolerate were steamed vegetables and buckwheat. My bowel function completely stopped, and I’m afraid to tell you how long I went without pooping. Finally, I had to rely on colonics.
This, my friends, was my initiation into the realm of healing without any blueprint or path before me. There was no mainstream doctor that had anything to offer me. Finally, I found an alternative doctor that prescribed glandulars, homeopathic remedies and mega-vitamins. And very slowly, I started to improve. When I say very slowly, I’m talking about a span of over eight years….and my journey continues to this day.
This mystery illness turned out to be Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, but that term didn’t exist back then.
That’s how my life turned into a constant journey in the direction of health and healing. That’s how I learned about and developed the knowledge and gifts that I share with you today.
However, on the flip side of this, I also became accustomed to functioning with a low level of energy and going about my day lacking the feeling of optimal health. Can you relate?
Although my story is extreme, I know that there are areas in your health where you may be functioning less than optimally. Are there warning signs about your health that you may be ignoring? Are there areas in your overall wellbeing where you are just squeaking by, but barely?
When it came to breast cancer, here are the warning signs that I ignored, because I’d become accustomed to living with less than optimal health.
These were my issues, that will hopefully, help you tune into your own:
- My vitamin D levels were low: The significance of this flew right over my head (even though the entire medical world was talking about it!) Weren’t everyone’s levels low? What’s the big deal? Actually, adequate vitamin D levels are very protective against breast cancer. And it’s the easiest thing to correct. 5000 ius/day. Make sure that you ask your doctor to test your level the next time that you have blood drawn. Between 60 – 80ng/ml is what’s considered to be most protective against cancer, although most mainstream doctors probably won’t mention it if your levels are anywhere above 30 ng/ml (which is technically within the normal range.) Therefore, make sure to get a copy of your lab results. I love the liquid preparations that I simply drop under my tongue after a meal.
- My estrogen levels were elevated: Not only was this visible on lab tests (which my doctor and nutritionist totally ignored), but my period became exceedingly heavy in my mid-forties, my breasts became very tender in the 2ndhalf of my cycle, PMS sharply worsened – all signs of estrogen dominance. Yes, my perimenopausal hormones were out of whack, but wasn’t this just a part of going through the changes associated with this moment in my life cycle? And after all, I was doing so many other things for my health. This way of thinking was a mistake. I now take estrogen-dominance very seriously, especially in the perimenopausal years. There are many supplements, herbs and dietary factors that can assist with healthy estrogen metabolism and clearance. For instance, freshly ground flax seeds, 2 tblspns/day added to your food assists the body in healthfully metabolizing and excreting estrogen from the system.
- My detoxification systems were functioning less than optimally: I’d had life-long digestive issues that no amount of fiber was able to banish. So, the low-grade constipation continued, and I gave up searching for answers around it. As it turns out, chronic constipation is a risk-factor for breast cancer and estrogen-dependent diseases. Why? Because estrogen is broken down in the liver and eliminated via the large intestine. If your waste doesn’t leave the system in a timely fashion, the estrogen is reabsorbed back into the circulation, making it available for estrogen receptors throughout the body. With my clients as well as myself, I have found that the two biggest factors surrounding chronic digestive issues have to do with unacknowledged food sensitivities, intestinal yeast overgrowth and parasites. What’s important to realize is that the most healing diet for people with chronic digestive issues will look very different than what is typically thought of as a “healthy” diet.
- I was deeply tired, to the point of adrenal fatigue. This feeling of fatigue was something that I had learned to live with. I dragged myself around. I didn’t sleep well. My life-force energy was very low, thereby affecting my overall state of health. The most important nutrients to incorporate into your health program to boost adrenal health are adaptogenic herbs – all of the ginsengs, ashwaganda root, schizandra berries, nettle leaf, reishi mushroom – the list goes on and on. These very safe, tonic herbs that should be used long-term to help restore life force energy, ie. adrenal function.
- I had frequent colds and viruses. A strong immune system is vital for scavenging not only harmful microbes in the body, but also cancer cells. Everyone has cancer cells in their bodies, but it’s the well-functioning immune system that keeps them from accumulating and turning into disease. If you’re getting frequent colds and viruses, your immune system needs some loving attention. A good place to start is with home-made chicken broth, the medicinal mushrooms, zinc and herbs & plant foods high in vitamin C like elderberry, red pepper and cranberry juice.
In the next installment of this series, I’ll be exploring the emotional and energetic issues that can contribute to breast cancer. Stay tuned…