Melanie: "I am an ordinary mom of three wonderful children and I always believed I was doing right by them; that I was feeding them the right foods. Then, Bam! At age 9, my youngest daughter was diagnosed with a devastating and chronic condition called Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. It was a long painful and arduous journey to recovery - and it was through this experience that I discovered my life’s work and passion."
We were told that perhaps, she could be in a wheelchair one day.
"My daughter endured seven years of regular hospital visits for checkups and medications. She was seen by almost every specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital. Her diagnosis affected her not only physically, but emotionally, too."
We were told that there was no cure.
"I was terrified for her future, and after reading the book by Dr. Campbell, I discussed with Jessica how important it was for her health to eliminate all animal products from her diet. Within three months of doing so, her health started to improve and we never looked back. Gone were the hot spots and inflammation that goes along with Rheumatoid Arthritis; gone were the injections and most important of all, gone was the pain. Her life transformed. Today she is thriving on a vegan and whole-food plant-based diet."
The book that changed our lives.
I fortuitously came across a book that changed her life, The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. This book is one of the most comprehensive studies ever done relative to health and diet. I learned in the book how powerful our food choices are and that a diet consisting of any animal products can promote disease, while a whole food plant-based diet can protect against disease.
At age nine, Jessica was diagnosed with severe Polyarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, an auto-immune disease. Her weight remained the same for almost two years. She was skin and bone. Her life had changed overnight; it consisted of extreme pain and inflammation, physician visits of all specialties, once a week a check-up with her rheumatologist, then once a month and then every three months eventually, blood work, occupational therapy, physical therapy, splints on her fingers and toes, a laundry list of medications, including chemo drugs and bi-weekly Enbrel injections. We had been told that there was no cure; that she most likely would be taking drugs much of her life. She was so severe, doctors thought that she could be in a wheelchair by 14. Her disease snatched her childhood away. She was ostracized by other kids for being different. No more birthday party invites or sleepovers. No more ballet or tennis lessons. Most days, she would lay with her cat Peaches at her side, a high fever, inflammation, joint pain, and listless. Her disease affected her physically, emotionally, and mentally. She was weary of her constant pain and inflammation. She was weary from taking medications and administering her injections.
Coincidentally, the animals were the catalyst to help me find a cure for Jess. At an animal rights conference that I attended, I happened to come across a book by Dr. T. Colin Campbell called The China Study. The research by Dr. Campbell is the most comprehensive study ever done on diet and nutrition. I was shocked as I read the book to learn how animal products fuel diseases, including autoimmune conditions, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Jess ate little as it was. While she didn’t get to eat animal products at home, a treat to her was getting a salami sandwich at the hospital during a regular hospital visit. She did occasionally eat dairy products as well. When I explained what I had learned about the health benefits of a plant-based diet from Dr. Campbell, Jess was willing to try eliminating all animal products.
Within three months of removing all animal products from her diet, she had no more inflammation. Her physician said to me at the time, "Whatever you are doing, keep doing it." He was reluctant to discuss the diet-related cause for improvement. His physician assistant asked me where she was getting her protein from. This is the obsession - protein. Rather than look at the improvements, they would rather find a hole in the process. Regardless, the results were significant, and couldn't be ignored. Today Jess is living her best life and is no longer suffering from Arthritis!