olddie Iowa State Track

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was July 10, 2006, my 21st birthday. I had come home early from college at Iowa State University. I had been not feeling well, I was always tired, very weak, and had extreme arthritis. This was not normal for me. I was big 12 athlete in the best shape of my life. I knew something was wrong. It was about 11:30 am I was at my parent’s house when I received a phone call from my doctor. He had some news as to what was wrong with me. He explained that after a large amount of testing and consulting other doctors they were positive that I had Systemic Lupus Nephritis. WHAT THE HELL IS LUPUS?

Confused about his diagnosis, I asked him to explain what Lupus was, and how I should treat it. Being that he had never dealt with or had a patient with Lupus he replied “I don’t know, it was an auto-immune disease that I am not familiar with.” I appreciated his honesty but was disturbed by the idea that my doctor, someone who should know everything medical could not tell me what a disease was and what it was doing to me, I hung up the phone and broke out into tears.

For those who don’t know what Lupus is:
Lupus is an auto-immune disease in which the human immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissues. This leads to long term chronic inflammation. Lupus is much more common in women than men and it may occur at any age, but appears most often in people between the ages of 10 and 50. African Americans and “people of color” are affected more often than people from other races. Some symptoms of lupus are: chest pain, shortness of breathe, fatigue, fevers with no cause, sensitivity to sunlight, arthritis, hair loss, skin rashes, mouth sores, and swollen lymph nodes.

Lupus can also affect major organs in the body:

  1. The brain and nervous system can be affected causing headaches, numbness, tingling, seizures, vision problems, or personality changes
  2. The digestive tract which can result in abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting
  3. The heart which leads to abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  4. The lungs which my result to coughing up blood and difficulty breathing
  5. The skin can display patchy skin color or fingers that change color when cold (also called the Raynaud’s phenomenon)

There are two types of lupus discoid and systemic. Discoid lupus only involves inflammation of the skin, and systemic lupus involves all the other parts/ organs in the body. I was fortunate to get both kinds discoid and systemic. Lucky me!

My father upset by the diagnosis the doctor gave me, took matters into his own hands. He began researching online, in the local library, and even asking friends in the medical field for advice. A few weeks later he came across “The Gerson Therapy”, a well know natural treatment developed in the 1920s by Max Gerson a German physician who believed that juicing and a plant based diet can activate our immune systems and cure us all of diseases. Initial Gerson’s plan was developed primarily for migraine headaches and tuberculosis, but in 1928 he began using it as a treatment for cancer. Now his therapy is being adopted by many to treat all types of diseases including auto-immune diseases like Lupus. After Max Gerson’s death, his daughter Charlotte Gerson continued to promote the therapy, founding the “Gerson Institute” in 1977.

In the U.S today promoting that diseases can be cured by a simple change in your diet is illegal. Insane right? Well it is, I had to travel all the way to Tijuana, Mexico to participate and learn more about this treatment. The Gerson clinic in Mexico was an awesome experience I met so many inspiring patients and their families. Everyone was there for exactly the same reason – to save their own lives – and that is very humbling. It was also something that brings us together like a family.

While there my mom and I learned the importance of juicing, coffee enemas and raw vegetables. We learned how to change my eating habits when I return home. The trip was great to learn first hand and to ask the doctors all of my important questions. I also got the privilege of meeting Charlotte Gerson. An amazing and inspiring woman. She is probably 91 years old now, she doesn’t wear glasses, she claims she has no arthritis, aches or pains, she doesn’t even have health insurance. Oh, and her skin is amazing, she glows. She is a great example of what the Gerson therapy can do.

After returning home things were a bit rough. I found it hard to keep up with all of the juicing and the coffee enemas. I was a little depressed and unhappy with my life. I wanted to be a normal 22 year old in college hanging out with my friends till 4 in the morning and eating and drinking what ever I want. Instead I was at home juicing and shooting coffee up my butt. (literally!) After a while things got worst I went to the hospital for a nose bleed that wouldn’t stop and it was down hill from then. The doctors right away threw me on high dose steroids (prednisone)which cause more harmful side effects then the Lupus itself. I was hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for about a year, dealing not only with lupus but with the complications from lupus medication (prednisone). I experienced everything from high fevers which lead to seizures, a coma, going blind for a couple of days, kidney failure (dialysis), a blood infection from a bad transfusion, extreme weight gain (twice my size), and muscle weakness.

Today I deal with random flares here and there which sometimes put me in the hospital… a place I am sick of visiting. I have grown tired of modern medicine, it does not seem to be working. You are supposed to be able to put your trust in you physicians, trust that they will help you get better. But I believe they are actually making me sicker, my symptoms are the same as when I was first diagnosed but now I have also swelled up like a fat cow, developed the appetite of a football team and started having extreme mood swings, depression, and anxiety. I constantly call my rheumatologist to discuss the side effects from the steroids and why I have a medicine drawer of a senior citizen. I have so many different pills prescribed to treat my different symptoms caused by the steroids its hard to keep track of them all. I am in a never-ending cycle of taking medications to treat the side effects of another medication. This is a little cray cray! Why can’t I just take one medication and be cured?

This past year I decided I was done! I am done with western medicine and I am committed to healing myself through a change in my diet. I am fortunate that both my dad and Lindsey supported me in my decision. Lindsey has changed his eating habits to help me not to be tempted to revert back to my old ways and my dad is contently flooding me with great nutrition information and delicious vegan recipes. He recently introduced me to another natural treatment plan that I am attempting to follow. Dr Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live Plan.” This treatment plan is a little easier to follow and not as strict as the Gerson. Dr. Fuhrman is an American board-certified family physician who specializes in nutrition-based treatments for obesity and chronic diseases. Fuhrman is most know for his appearances on the Dr. Oz Show and the Joe Cross documentary “Sick Fat and Nearly Dead.” I have consulted one of the doctors on Dr. Fuhrman’s team (Dr. Benson) and he has devised a plan to help get me off of all of my medications and essentially cure me of my disease.

Dr. F_headshot

There are two things that i believe causes my lupus flare ups: stress and a poor diet and I am on a mission to finding a way to manage my stress and change my diet. I believe it is important to understand what my body needs to stay healthy. Like I said before I am extremely fortunate to have the support system that I have. Lindsey and I have become extremely close and have a bond that can only be made by surviving something like Lupus. I enjoy the way we eat and coming up with new healthy, vegan/ nutritarian recipes has become my new hobby.

If you are suffering from lupus or any other disease for that matter, I encourage you to look into alternative medicine and natural dietary changes. I believe that the answers we are looking for regarding our health can be found in examining the things we are putting into our bodies (We are what we eat). Even if you are healthy I still recommend learning about the importance of diet and your health. I know that had I not already been so athletic and healthy I might not have been so lucky. Dr. Fuhrman believes that many modern illnesses can be directly linked to our diet and preventing these diseases is so much easier then healing ourselves from them.
So give it a try, incorporate more organic fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains into you diet. Thank you so much for reading this post. Please share your comments or ask any questions below. Later I will be posting more about my current diet and my journey to finding my own cure.

3 Responses to “MY LUPUS STORY”
  1. preachteach says:

    Wow, girl! I had no idea you had been going through all this. Way to have the courage to say something and declare victory in your life. May God give you the courage and ease to continue to live a healthy, happy, and full life!

    • Cynthia says:

      Yeah! God has been a major part of my life and my journey to getting well. Faith and my great support system is what got me through and is keeping me going.

  2. you’re an inspiration! keep sharing your journey darling 🙂 the world has big plans for you…

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