When I was 37, a health crisis hit me like a lightning bolt. I remember sitting in the gynecologist’s office. The look of concern on the doctor’s face unnerved me. She was going on and on about a gigantic fibroid sitting in my uterus. My mind drew a blank.
“What?” I thought. “How could that be? I had an annual check-up just a year ago and received a clean bill. What has happened to my body?”
I was in shock. My head dropped and I covered my face with my sweaty palms. Tears started dropping and I could not believe what I just heard. I said to myself: “I don’t need another bad news in my life right now!”
My father was dying from cancer on the other side of the world. I was devastated when this bad news dropped.
“Oh no! I don’t want to go to the hospital!” I was scared. I witnessed how my father was butchered in the hospital during his long treatment period. I never imagined that I might end up with the same fate.
“No! I’m not going to let that happen.” I decided to take things into my own hands. “I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die!” became my mantra lurking behind every single move.
So I started reading books upon books on how to heal our body with natural methods. With each book that I read, I tried out the suggestions. Juicing, fasting, detoxing, and eventually, I went all out with a raw vegan diet.
After being on this diet for over half a year, I hit a brick! I woke up feeling like the sky was spinning and my world was literally upside down. “Isn’t this diet supposed to make me feel great?” The dizziness didn’t go away until two full hours later.
At that point, I knew in my gut that something was very wrong with my body. I mean, how come it felt like climbing a mountain when I was walking up a flight of stairs? How come my hair was falling out en masse and my skin was dry like a desert? And worst of all, I developed the worst acid reflux I had ever had, so much so that eating and sleeping became a problem. “No way,” I told myself. “Time to call it quits!”
One day, when reading a book about 100 superfoods for longevity, I came upon the concept of eating according to your blood type. I became intrigued. At the same time, I was tired of trying 100 different types of foods to make myself feel better. I mean, come on! How on earth can you manage to stuff down so many foods, each claimed to be a superfood? This was too overwhelming and confusing.
So, I picked up the recommended book that talked about how to eat right for your blood type, “Eat Right 4 Your Type” by Dr. Peter D’Adamo. Then, everything just started to make sense!
Once I learned how to eat the right foods for my unique body type, and avoided those foods that made me sick, my health turned around 180 degrees. Since then, for over 10 years, I have kept myself in good shape. I gained so much energy and felt better than ever.
Surprisingly, my painful menstrual cramps, along with all those PMS symptoms like headaches, acne, swollen and painful breasts all went away silently. In fact, all the cysts in my breasts that I had since my puberty also disappeared. I was shocked. For the first time in my life, I didn’t dread being a woman with all those irritating and sometimes miserable monthly inconveniences. I was able to go to dance classes without any issues.
Fast forward 12 years, I am in menopause, but I hardly have any symptoms and complaints like hot flashes, night sweats or mood swings. This is thanks to radical diet and lifestyle changes I made a decade ago. And the bonus of that is, I have been able to maintain a healthy weight and shape without depriving myself of delicious food.
Because of how amazing I feel, I decided to share what I learned with women who are going through perimenopause. I hope that these women can feel great once again like I do, and look forward to sailing through their menopause and enjoying the second half of their precious lives. This is why I’m doing what I’m doing, and I love every minute of it.
What about those fibroids? Well, it’s a long story. But the gist of it is, they had already grown too big before I started to turn my health around using natural ways. So eventually I had them removed surgically. But luckily I did not let fear overcome me and rushed into the operating room for a hysterectomy, which 9 out of the 10 doctors I saw suggested. I waited five years until I found a surgeon who was willing to preserve my uterus, and the operation was a success. The strange thing was, during those five years, my fibroids didn’t grow at the rate the doctors had expected, and I had absolutely no excess bleeding issues or pain. After the surgery, my recovery was phenomenal thanks to years of eating anti-inflammatory and healing foods. Since then, I have shifted my focus from managing disease to maintaining health. It has been an awesome journey!
Many of my readers have asked me whether I was able to naturally shrink the huge uterus fibroid tumors that I had about a decade ago through dietary changes. So I’ve decided to write a separate post to follow up on my health journey, originally recounted in this blog post here.
During my half-year trial with the vegan diet, my two fibroid tumors did shrink by 1/3 of their original sizes. I was elated when I saw the ultrasound scan results and used them as a validation for the vegan lifestyle I was fervently pursuing.
But, as I mentioned in this post, the initial success was followed by a backlash of side effects in the rest of my body. And so I continued my search and eventually arrived at the best kind of diet after a long process of self-experimentation and elimination — the Blood Type Diet. After being on the general Blood Type Diet, I continued to fine-tune my diet by experimenting with the Genotype Diet, which is a different system created by the same naturopath who propagated the concept of the Blood Type Diet, Dr. Peter D’Adamo, the author of New York Times bestseller Eat Right 4 Your Type.
The Genotype Diet did not seem to suit me very well so I decided to give SWAMI a try. SWAMI is a software written by Dr. D’Adamo, which is the most personalized approach and combined the benefits of both the Blood Type Diet and Genotype Diet. It gave me a unique food list as well as exercise and supplement recommendations based on my blood type, genetics, personal health history, current health conditions, family health history and more. Once I started following the recommendations of SWAMI, my health was on an upward trend down to the minutest details.
Tricky Emotional Factors
However, when it came to the fibroids, it remained a tricky challenge. For five long years, I was actually able to keep them relatively stable in size. The fact that they did not expand in size was a testament that the individualized SWAMI diet was superb in keeping inflammation and abnormal cell growth at bay. In addition, unlike most women with fibroids who suffer from excessive bleeding and severe pain or cramping during their menstrual periods, I did not experience any of those symptoms at all. In fact, my periods were normal and painless — an immense improvement from what I had experienced ever since I started having them.
But, one day, I felt extreme discomfort — the fibroids were expanding so rapidly in my pelvic cavity that I felt tremendous pressure and bouts of pain. I remember vividly the day when I felt the pain. I had to give a business presentation to an audience who came from all over the world. But the demanding work was not what caused the stress in my system. What happened was that right before I left home for the presentation, I was faced with a shattering truth from my ex-husband, who engaged in a behavior that was totally unacceptable to me.
Shock waves of negative emotions — of anger, disappointment, feelings of betrayal and shame — went through my body in a very short time. What made it worse was that I had to act stoically and pretend that nothing had happened when I went on the podium to give my speech. I squeezed out fake smiles and tried to be as composed as possible, but a volcano of anger was boiling underneath the surface.
After this traumatic episode, I realized that I had to do something about the situation — I needed to take care of the expanding tumors once and for all, and then deal with the rest. An ultrasound check revealed what I had suspected, which was that the fibroids — and the ovarian cysts — had expanded substantially. The size of the fibroids were equivalent to that of a five-month old fetus.
Luckily, by this time, I was given a recommendation for a surgeon who, unlike the nine previous ones I had consulted — was willing to perform myomectomy instead of hysterectomy on me. This meant that my uterus would be preserved, despite the perceived difficulty related to the sheer size and shape of my fibroids.
I was so grateful for this surgeon. At the same time, I was grateful for the naturopathic doctor whom I had been seeing remotely, Dr. Ginger Nash, who specializes in female hormones and reproductive health as well as the Blood Type Diet. According to Dr. Nash, the fibroids themselves were producing excess estrogen, which was feeding back into the hormonal system in a vicious cycle. Since the fibroids were of a substantial size, it would be best to surgically remove them. After that, I could then “focus on health” instead of disease management. This made a lot of sense to me. After trying so hard for so many years and feeling utterly frustrated, I realized that it was time to end this Sisyphus battle.
The surgery consisted of an abdominal myomectomy and ovarian cystectomy. It lasted for two hours and was a success. I was back on my feet relatively quickly. In fact, I was able to talk normally right after I opened my eyes and have normal bowel movement the next day! Even the nurses were impressed. I attribute the bounce-back to my long-term devotion to feeding my body with only the highest quality of food that was compliant for my blood type. This optimized my digestion and absorption of all the right nutrients my body needed.
During my six-week home rest, I continued to eat mostly beneficial and “diamond” foods based on my SWAMI food list. The healing process went really well. The recuperation time doubled up as a precious opportunity to reflect on what I had gone through in my journey to heal myself.
Before, during and after the surgery, I had gotten tremendous support from my family and friends. I was overwhelmed by their warmth and love, and at the same time really enjoyed being enveloped by this feeling. Receiving love without feeling compelled to give back was something I was totally unused to before this surgery (this was caused by a false belief instilled in me during my upbringing, and strengthened by my mother’s modelling).
I had always been an over-giver and self-sacrificer, and no matter how much I gave, I still felt that I didn’t do enough. Much later on, I realized that this was due to the fact that I was seeking validation from others to make me feel whole — and the way to seek validation was to give of myself and expect appreciation for my efforts. So asking for and receiving love — and enjoying it as my birth right — was a completely foreign concept to me!
I especially remember the words of a friend from the Blood Type Diet/Genotype Diet/SWAMI online community:
“The BTD/GTD/SWAMI may have helped to prevent the fibroids, but sometimes once a disease state is established it just can’t be reversed by diet. You fought the good fight and you are to be admired for that. You can now enter into your surgery knowing you did your best to avoid it, but accept it with grace. Whether or not you reversed your fibroid condition, we all know that you are healthier for all the years on the diet. It’s hard not to worry about what others think, but assure them you are more healthy and fit than you were before.”
These words had meant so much for me and put me at ease. I realized that I did not have to feel defeated for what seemed to be a “failed” attempt to cure myself. Quite the contrary. I had fought a good battle and finally arrived at the right place at the right time. No effort was wasted as my wholesome and personalized diet proved to have given me a solid foundation that led to a speedy recovery.
Emotionally, what I felt immediately after the surgery was gratefulness. I was grateful simply to be alive!
The physical scar — quite a big one — healed over time, and I was able to finally flatten the bulge in my belly after consistently working out, doing HIIT/running every day for a whole year and eventually going back to my beloved ballet class.
However, the emotional scar took much longer to heal, and I can definitely attest to the fact that unseen and silent emotional traumas could do much more harm to our well-being than physical pain. Having made that comparison, though, I must add that there is never a clear-cut separation between the two. One can contribute or lead to the other, often subconsciously. My experience and that of many others have informed me, that physical ailments and diseases often have emotional roots. While the physical suffering was hard for me, because I had to manage the “inconvenience” of living with the symptoms of carrying heavy tumors in my belly, I actually feel grateful for the experience.
I am thankful for what my body’s innate wisdom was telling me, loud and clear — that something was wrong! Something needed to be addressed, and it was shouting at me with the ever-expanding size of the fibroids. The body was ill at ease, and the onus was on me to become a detective and find out what was wrong in my being. And thus I started an emotional healing journey, which has been ongoing since the day after my surgery.
The Journey of Emotional Healing
Initially, I relied on a wide array of modalities, mostly esoteric and “spiritual” ones, to help me do the digging and strip down layers upon layers to get to the core of my “dis-ease.” I used meditation, the Healing Code, German New Medicine, BodyTalk, Mindscape and countless other “modalities” and self-help books to help myself understand what was causing my body to create a such big tumor in my womb. One idea that stood out came from Dr. Christiane Northrup’s book, “Women’s Body, Women’s Wisdom.” In this book, Dr. Northrup explained the emotional root causes for different diseases that women are most prone to, and the explanation for fibroids is that the creative channel is stuck, as the uterus is the seat for the creative of life.
I was very puzzled at the time when I read this, and could not comprehend the meaning for many years. I thought I was a very creative person — have always been — and wondered how or which part of my creativity became stuck. Little did I know, that my self-expression was muted in the toxic relationships that I had had for a long time. For a decade and a half, I was married with a man who, much to my chagrin, is a Narcissist (and I only realized that post-divorce).
Unbeknownst to myself, a part of me had been suppressed — the sides that wanted to be heard and seen by the world were not allowed to come out, squashed by the Narcissistic personality of my ex as well as my own co-dependency on this relationship. Co-dependent because I had an insatiable need to be validated and an endless insecurity about deserving love simply for being who I am.
As I did not have the tools nor the courage to express my anger and disappointments through the years, I stuffed all the pain down to the womb until it manifested in the form of fibroids. It grew into a baby — a “pain baby” that was crying to be heard.
The Deep Dive
I did not write these words lightly, nor did I come to the conclusion easily. It was the result of an intense and grueling period of self-reflection, self-examination and self-therapy. During the course of my healing, I came face to face with the origin of this toxic relationship. It originated in my relationship with my own mother, whom I discovered to have strong narcissistic traits and with whom I had a co-dependent relationship and from whom I never learned the skills of drawing healthy boundaries.
Over the course of the past two years, I came face to face with all the past traumas and triggers that lived a life of their own in the invisible ties between mother and daughter, and realized that those unhealed parts actually set myself up for an unhealthy love relationship that simply repeated and amplified the same pattern that I had lived in since childhood.
I’m very glad to say that after the tough and invisible inner work, I have finally come to a place where I have left my dysfunctional marriage, found peace with myself and started to make peace with the relationship with my mother. This peace has a spill-over impact on all aspects of my life, so that I can now finally live with the innocent joy that I was born with.
As for the pain and disease that I have overcome, suffice it to say that despite all the healing “modalities” that promised miraculous healing, the one single tool that I have discovered to be the most effective is writing and sharing my own stories. Authentic self-expression is the healing balm that goes deep under the surface, and it gives me a channel for my innate creativity. It also allows me to lean into my pain and sufferings, for the only way to transcend pain is to go through it.
I have also awakened to the power in telling and sharing stories with trusted ones — those who are open to listening and are non-judgmental; those who envelop us with love that doesn’t have any strings attached.
I don’t know how telling this very intimate story of my life would help you understand your own health issues. But I know that what is universally true, is that we cannot simply be healthy and well by treating a disease with “masking tapes” — all that promise to get rid of the outward symptoms. We need to dive deeper, much deeper, into the darkness of our souls, and gather the courage to face whatever demons are there or else they will come back and haunt us again and again, either in the form of physical ailments or mental diseases/mood disorders. I invite you, therefore, to look inwards for all suppressed truths and conflicts, and better still, to share your stories with trusted ones as a means to heal your soul, and thus your body.
In some ancient African tribes, the shaman/medicine person/healer would ask four questions that are equivalent to the modern “intake form” at a physician’s clinic:
- When was the last time you danced?
- When was the last time you sang?
- When was the last time you told a story?
- When was the last time you sat alone in stillness?
There is much wisdom and power in these inquiries. I hope to leave you with these questions in case you are seeking ways to heal yourself and become whole and well once again. And if you need a non-judgmental someone to tell your long-suppressed story or to guide you through the process of inquiry and healing, please feel free to reach out to me for a consultation. Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me in private. I wish you truly well!