All my life I was blessed with and grateful for radiant health and strength. Athletic and active, I am a professional photographer/artist, certified Kripalu yoga and yoga dance teacher, YMCA fitness leader, ocean swimmer and cyclist. My diet was organic vegan. I lived a yogic/holistic lifestyle. However, in Berlin I began to use foods that were prior taboos, like wine, coffee, dairy and sweets. Most damaging, I lost myself. I stopped being me and became alienated from who I was and what I loved.
I’d been in Berlin for 14 months and had not felt well for the last two. I did not know I was experiencing hypoglycemic symptoms: numbness in my mouth and fingertips, anxiety attacks, fear, rapid heartbeat, sweating and confusion. I attributed these recent symptoms to the stress of learning the language and culture of a new country and adapting to a new lifestyle and relationships.
I had never been hospitalized or navigated the medical world. Now I was doing it alone, in German, in crisis. My diagnosis was malignant insulinoma, with multiple metastases NETs (neuroendocrine tumors) to the liver. I had no idea what this meant. It was information overload—in any language. I learned that an insulinoma is a neuroendocrine tumor (NET), normally in the pancreas, that produces the hormone insulin. The insulin produces life-threatening hypoglycemia.
This very rare form of cancer is 90% benign and resolved by surgical removal of the tumor. However, malignant insulinoma is more rare, afflicting one person in ten million. This was my diagnosis. The primary tumor was unfound, and I was drowning in insulin from the metastasized tumors. I was told surgery, chemo or radiation were not options. My doctors said the cancer was not life threatening, but the hypoglycemia was. The first week, I was kept alive by an IV that dripped glucose sugar into my body. My blood sugar was tested every hour around the clock. I fought for my life. My blood sugar once sank to 19 when my IV bag was left empty.
Upon discharge, my only therapy was the drug Sandostatin, injected every eight hours, to block the insulin production. I learned to inject myself, obsessively measured my blood sugar levels, ate every hour and minimized all physical activity. This became my life. Yoga or exercise was impossible.
Immediately, I reverted to my strict vegan diet. I received healings and therapies from numerous alternative healers and holistic doctors, convinced I could heal myself. Despite my best efforts, I experienced daily hypoglycemia. It controlled me.
The anxiety was as toxic as the illness. My blood sugar could drop 100 points in an hour. I did not believe or accept the insulinoma or cancer diagnosis. But I could not deny that I had hypoglycemia.
After six months of more emergencies and struggling to survive, I returned to the U.S., reluctantly searching for medical treatment. My quality of life and health were poor. Unable to leave the house without my Sandostatin, needles and food, I was fragile, exhausted, depressed and isolated. I would go to sleep praying to live until the morning.
It was difficult to find a doctor with insulinoma experience, but I finally found a great one, thank God! I became the fifth insulinoma patient at HUP (Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania) in Philadelphia. In January and March 2012, I received liver targeted treatments called liver chemoembolization. It was spectacularly successful. All 50 tumors (NETs) were killed. Tumors gone, insulin gone and hypoglycemia gone—immediately.
The primary tumor is still unfound, and my doctor (who is also my hero) emphasizes this is only a “treatment” not a “cure.” Allopathic belief is that I will continue to need liver targeted therapies for future tumors. I respectfully disagree. I know I am curable. The power that created this body heals this body. I am healthy; I am happy; I am healing.
I knew my healing would take some work, and I needed help. The hypoglycemia had ceased—hooray! But I suffered from PTSD, and was experiencing side effects from my hospital treatments. I went to Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI) for the three-week Life Transformation Program and loved and learned the program 24/7. It was a fantastic milestone decision and a great investment in myself. I was so ready and open, and it was just what I needed.
When I learned that Hippocrates cofounder “Dr. Ann” Wigmore was Lithuanian, as my maternal grandparents, I knew HHI was the answer to my prayers and I felt very guided. My plan in going to HHI was: “Now that the tumors are gone, lets keep them gone!” How do I do this? Simple—I consciously create health and balance in my body, mind and spirit. I consciously love and honor myself. I consciously make peace with everyone and everything—including the tumors and my, gulp, cancer. I was able to do this at Hippocrates.
The campus is more than a beautiful, inspiring, Shangri-la. It is a Mecca. They have invented the wheel and continue to research the truth. I received information, nourishment, tools and support to heal my life and bring it on home. “Love yourself,” perhaps the most powerful lesson, is the very core of what Hippocrates teaches its guests. Empowered, I am my own healer. HHI is a conscious, positive environment where one can learn to heal, relax, reconnect with oneself and the world—and have lots of fun in the process!
I learned to focus on my wellness instead of the illness. Many times, I completely forgot about the cancer and hypoglycemia. It was a fabulous five star vacation—and for me that is healing! The program is very well rounded, equally addressing body, mind and spirit. I felt safe, pampered and confident. I loved and received all that was offered: the juices and gorgeous living food buffets, lectures, therapies, counseling, healing circles, exercise classes, spa and more.
Hippocrates directors Anna Maria and Brian Clement are available, accessible and experts in their fields, as well as in allopathic medicine. They have heart, soul and brains to boot! Brian could sell fire to the devil, but I am glad he is on our team. The outstanding, professional and caring staff and international guests were all my teachers. I am so grateful—thank you all. I cried a lot, but mostly with pure joy and exuberance, as I biked, swam and did aerobics for the first time in a long time. My energy level was great and I thrived on my new living food diet.
At first it seemed radical and revolutionary, even to an old vegan like me. But the core philosophy at Hippocrates is time tested and it works! I was finally living and thriving again. I met fabulous new friends and we continue to support each other. I traveled to Lithuania in September to the Ann Wigmore Memorial event. It was wonderful to honor, celebrate and thank “Dr. Ann,” along with Anna Maria and Brian, Viktoras Kulvinskas and many other beacons in the Living Food World. It was a personal victory to be well enough to travel, and a dream fulfilled to pray and thank the patron saint of Lithuania, St. Casimir in his church, and even visit beloved Berlin again.
I completely embraced and brought home the Living Food diet and lifestyle. I grow my own ”crops” of wheatgrass and 6 – 8 varieties of sprouts. I practice daily body brushing, lymphatic breast massage and more. My three-month MRIs and blood work indicate there is no new tumor growth. The primary tumor is still unfound. I am feeling fine. I am looking forward to visiting HHI again soon. My goals are to live a conscious life of love, peace and creativity; to be an artist and yogini. I know we all are one. I am healthy; I am happy; I am healing; I am home. Om Shanti.