I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis 6 years ago, while not a scary death warrant on its own, my gastroenterologist also removed several tubular adenomas at the time, a type of pre-cancer not normally found in people until they start to reach their 60′s. He asked me about family history and I told him my grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother all died of colon cancer. So I had pre-cancer and was genetically predisposed for full-blown colon cancer and I was going to the bathroom with bloody watery stools up to 30 times a day and too sick to leave my house. I was 28 at the time. I was put on 60 mg of prednisone. A powerful steroid and lots of other heavy-duty prescription drugs. I went from a healthy weight of 125 to over 200 lbs in 9 months on the drug. Not only did I gain the weight, but I also developed horrible acne. I grew facial hair. I couldn’t sleep and I felt crazy and was not a nice person to be around. I would cry when I looked in the mirror. During this time I heard more than one stranger laugh at me or call me a fat behind my back. Good times.
When I was finally able to wean myself off the drug. I asked the Dr. if the weight would just come off. He laughed and said I would have to work it off like I had been eating cheeseburgers for 9 months. I worked out 2 hours a day at the gym for a year and at the end of the year I ran a half marathon. Yes, I lost all the weight. I have since had a colonoscopy every year, and have often had to go back on prednisone in order to get my colitis symptoms under control. One time I was even prescribed steroid enemas. Super Fun! All while taking lots of insanely expensive monthly maintenance drugs. However, at my last colonoscopy it showed I had developed more tubular adenomas and had to have them removed. Pre-cancer again.
I thought I had been eating healthy, exercising and taking care of my body and was devastated. Somewhere around this time, my brother came and stayed with me and we ran a halloween half marathon with me one weekend dressed as twin nacho libres. He has been vegetarian or vegan on and off for the last 15 years. We watched a film together “Forks over Knives” I didn’t really pay attention to it at the time because I was watching kids, making dinner and generally a little uninterested.
Then I woke up one morning looking like this:
My face was totally swollen and sore. I was scared and had no idea what was happening to me. I had at other times had swelling in my hands, feet, or welts on my torso. I knew they were autoimmune related. I talked with my physician and he recommended: you guessed it, prednisone again. NO THANKS! I had several more facial swelling incidents over the next couple of months. My colitis had been under control thanks to an awesome probiotic a neighbor had introduced me to, but my body was still clearly not healthy and I refused to go on steroids again. At this point somewhere in my head I thought of the film “Forks over Knives” again. I watched it, and realized maybe I could heal myself by changing my diet. I also watched a film called “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” The main guy in the film had similar autoimmune issues to mine and reversed his health issues through his diet. I talked with my spouse and we agreed to go Plant Based Whole Foods Diet together.