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Warning Signs

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Today’s post has taken me a while to write because it is very personal and concerns a journey I am on. My hope is that my sharing moments of vulnerability like this will encourage someone who comes across my story, let her know that she’s not alone, and give her the courage to try something new. I will be sharing as much as possible throughout every stage of this journey.

Please note that I am under the care of a food specialist, naturopath, and doctor as I walk this journey through.

When I look back over this past year, I remember so many moments when I knew there was something off with my body, but I couldn’t put my finger on it actually was. I battled many different symptoms, but life and hormones can be confusing after having a baby, so it was difficult for doctors or naturopaths to really nail down what was going on with my body. “Ride it out” was a common thread in the advice I received.

 

Five months ago, I was tested for ovarian cancer due to hot flashes, weight loss, increased heart rate, and stomach pain. Everything came back clear, and the doctors said the problem was probably my thyroid.

I tried a plant-based regimen to help with the stomach problems, and it did work! But I didn’t know how to make it work for my body with the physical demand of training, so I ended up going back to eating small amounts of meat and trying to incorporate more juice and vegetables into our life. And the stomach pain came back.

Seven weeks ago, I randomly passed a large amount of blood through my rectum after using the washroom. I was emotional after seeing the amount and immediately called Troy and work to say I needed to go to the doctor. My doctor was out of the office that day, but the wonderful nurses could sense the emotion in my voice and squeezed me in that day with another that doctor, who happened to be one of the moms from my oldest son’s school. After an examination, she said it was probably nothing but would send me in for a scope just to make sure.

The prep for the scope was not something I ever wanted to go through again, so I was praying that everything would come back all clear! I feel so blessed to have been seen by some of the nicest doctors, who were kind and patient when I felt so emotional. The doctor who did my scope, who was so amazing on every level, ended my appointment by being very honest and letting me know that they had found a larger-sized polyp that she was concerned about. She said that in her experience a polyp of this size indicated cancer and that she was rushing the results so they could take action quickly. She also told me to go back and thank the doctor who had taken more precautions and sent me in for this test. “We rarely see woman your age or in your physical category,” she told me, “because people dismiss the symptoms.” I’m young, I’m a fitness instructor, and I eat very well. Why would anyone worry about my health?! Including me.

The test was done on Tuesday, and by Friday we had results saying there were no signs of cancer but that I needed to go in for a colonoscopy to really check things out. Well, we cried, celebrated, and thanked Jesus for the most amazing results! I don’t ever want to forget the relief I experienced that day, not only because it had felt like we were walking through a bad dream as we’d waited and walked through the previous two weeks, but because I had seen Jesus show up in so many ways as we’d waited, prayed for peace, wisdom and the joy to get through each day, and spent that time with three demanding children who know when Mommy is off.

After the celebrations, we prepared our hearts and my body for a colonoscopy. I will not lie: this was also among most non-fun things I have ever done. I don’t enjoy any type of cleansing, so having my body totally stripped of everything for weeks as they did these tests started to wear on me. But we got through it.

They removed the larger polyp, which ended up having been two that had grown together, and now we would have to wait for the results. I felt like we were in the clear, given that previous report had indicated no signs of cancer, but I decided to start doing my own research on why the body was growing polyps.

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This past year, I had taken a course with Dana Skoglund called Align and Thrive because I knew there was something going on with my body. I felt like this was the perfect way to dig into some of my symptoms and figure out what I could do on a daily basis to change my habits and lifestyle in an achievable and maintainable way. Doing things like tongue scraping, dry brushing, warm oil massages, and eating foods that really fueled and supported proper gut function became daily activities for me. I’ll be discussing each one of these habits into detail throughout this process, but one of the major takeaways for me was learning to really listen to my body—to not sweep things under the rug and to pay attention to things as little as tongue scraping, which can tell you about where your body is at. I ended that course right before this journey began, and I’m so thankful I took it because I finished it feeling that I was ready to really dig in and get serious about supporting my body and not just putting Band-aids on things.

I contacted Jacqui Perry from FoodWorks and immediately started my journey on heeling my gut and changing my life before I even know what the results were from my colonoscopy. We had known for a long time that there was a problem with my gut due to my hypothyroid condition, which was diagnosed nine years ago. If you know anything about the health of the thyroid, then you also know that it is directly connected to the gut. But the information surrounding healing the gut can be controversial and confusing. Jacqui had been recommended to me many times over the years by naturopaths, people in the health field, and friends who had taken her courses. She is pretty much the master of fermented foods and plant-based diets, and she really digs into every avenue of why your body is struggling to work at its fullest potential. During the two weeks of waiting for my results, I began a journey of going totally plant-based, incorporating lots of fermented foods and anti-inflammatory drinks into my diet to help my body heal. Regardless of the test results, I was going to change my life and dive into fully healing my body.

One week ago, we received the test results and learned that my polyp was precancerous. I will have to go through routine colonoscopies every couple of years to make sure that I don’t end up with full-blown colon cancer. My doctor was very serious and was not really interested in the lifestyle changes I was choosing to make. I’m not mentioning this to make her sound like a bad doctor—I do actually love my doctor! But she really felt that my personal work would not do much for my body in this situation and that I would end up having cancer if I ignored her advice.

Although I respect my doctor, I do disagree. Study after study, not just in “natural medicine” but also in cutting-edge cancer clinics, prove that food plays a major part in our healing process. Why would we wait to take action, not change our habits, and hope for the best? Our bodies were created to heal, but how can a body heal without the fuel and support to do so? Do I believe in miracles? Yes, but I also believe in wisdom and making smart decisions when you’re given warning signs. This is my warning sign—and to be honest there were tons, also, before those results came in!

So as I begin this journey, I invite you to walk with me. I know some of my readers may chose the unfollow button based on my decision to go plant-based, choose alternative medicine, or believe in a God who I know is walking this journey with me through the good and the bad days. And I want you to know that is okay. We are not meant to be a part of everyone’s journey or see things the way others see them.

If you do chose to follow along, know that I will be as honest and personal as I feel comfortable doing. This is all new for me, so I will make mistakes. I’m sure I will accidently eat something I shouldn’t, and I’m okay with that. It’s part of the journey, and that’s just what it is—a “journey.” It won’ t be perfect today or tomorrow, but I’m eager and willing to learn along the way.

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This has honestly been one of the craziest and scariest things I have ever gone through. I have three beautiful children, and even the thought of not seeing them grow into the amazing humans they will be is enough to take a mother’s breath away. I’m their protector, cheerleader, and the one who holds them when they are hurting. We cannot do life apart! I’m so thankful for an amazing husband who has walked these days out with me and allowed me to feel scared, cry, and be vulnerable in every way. I would love to tell you I have gone through every part of this journey so far with faith that everything will be okay, but the reality is that I’m human and I’m also a mother is fiercely loves her tribe. If that is not motivation enough to change your habits, I don’t know what is!

I’m also beyond thankful for the friends and family who have walked out these days of uncertainty with us. You are loved beyond words, and you can’t place a price on friendships like yours. We will forever hold you close.

I saw this quote recently and felt it was perfect for this post.

 “Sometimes what appears like an obstacle in your path is really a gift meant to move you in a better direction.”

Author unknown

Thank you for your support~~*

xoxo

Rachel

 

Photography By: Abbie Roseedit-0116

 

8 comments

  1. Katelyn Galvin says:

    I’m really appreciative of you sharing your journey. It doesn’t sound easy (to say the very least), but your vulnerability is refreshing. Personally, I have been hoping to hear more about your story as I too struggle with thyroid disease and am trying to navigate the healing process. I hope you feel encouraged through your journey and pray that God’s peace, comfort, and discernment are with you through it all. Can’t wait to hear more!

  2. Sam says:

    Thank you for sharing! It makes you realize how important it is to listen to those little signs…. I have been following you for a while on social media and your website and you are a huge inspiration for me and many others… So much courage to write about something personal like this and share it with us! Thank you and I wish you all the best for your health and family!

    • Rachel Doell says:

      Thank you so much Sam!
      This year has really been a lot about listening to the big things that have huge effects on us physically and mentally…
      Thank you so much for your support

      xoxo

  3. Anna says:

    I don’t know you personally, but I follow your Instagram account for health and exercise motivation. It’s so enouraging to see a mom who posts photos and videos at her house making health a priority despite not being at a gym all the time.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your journey with your followers and being honest about your decisions and your faith. I’ll be praying your you, your family, and your doctors as you all work through this together!

  4. Thank you for sharing your deeply moving story. You will undoubtedly touch and inspire many battling illness and disease, which incidentally is all rooted in how we treat our bodies. Whether it’s stress, lack of sleep, toxins we are exposed to or how we eat, make no mistake, food is medicine or its poison. I am a Nutritionist and my husband is a Physician. We both believe wholeheartedly that your approach to how you are tackling this obstacle is on point and gives you the best insurance policy to a happily ever after. Your faith (probably most important ), your support (your family & tribe!), your fuel and the fact that movement is part of who you are, will bring you health. I for one will be cheering you on from afar! And although I don’t know you, I respect and admire your courage, dignity and strength. Your babies are lucky to have a role model like you as their mama.

    • Rachel Doell says:

      Hi Shannon,

      Just wanted to send you a quick reply to say thank you so much for your encouragement. Sorry it took me so long to write this reply. Life has been a bit hectic with the move.
      I just want you to know that it meant a lot coming from your educational background to hear your thoughts. It’s been a interesting journey changing up our food and really focusing on items that not only fuel but also heal..
      Thank you again for your support

      Rachel

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