If you are just getting to know me, you know that I have a fascination with the connections between food and well-being, and that is what has brought me to this juncture in my own healing journey.
I was raised by a Calgarian cowgirl and a "Chitalian" father. Dad was raised by his Chinese aunt and Italian uncle, and his father ran restaurants and catering companies in Toronto. In our family, everything was about food. When we ate lunch, dinner plans were being made. If we left the house, we were contemplating our next meal or snack.
As a kid, I ate everything, and wasn’t overly picky. I loved dairy and ice cream but I didn’t digest them well. We lived down the street from a dairy that churned the richest full-fat dairy ice cream where I enjoyed endless ice-cream cones – and then I would routinely take a chalky swig of Pepto Bismol to soothe my cramping, aching tummy. Eventually though, I yielded to the repeated messages my body was sending me.
Hangry. That feeling of being frazzled, shaky, and unable to focus due to low blood sugar. It would completely derail my self-control.
I can still clearly trace my wellbeing (or lack thereof) to food I've ingested.
While working and living abroad, my stomach would get distended and crampy after almost anything I ingested. I underwent batteries of tests including ultrasounds, endoscopies, colonoscopies, stool tests, and breath tests, to name just a few. I visited alternative practitioners for blood tests and sensitivity tests. I tweaked my diet. I exercised more. I exercised less. I de-stressed. I re-stressed. I was told I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I was told I had over-acid-production. I was told I had H.Pylori.
Two years ago, I was living in Dubai, working as a flight attendant. I could see so clearly the negative effects of travelling through various time zones and the repercussions of altering our natural circadian rhythms. I was enrolled to begin an MBA program in Aviation Management with my ultimate goal to work for the airline I was employed by, devising programs that would cater to lifestyle and wellness in aims of reducing turnover rate due to burnout and health related concerns. It was a broad overview of my intention behind bridging my commerce degree with my passions - health, travel, aviation, nutrition, wellness, and lifestyle.
Just as I was about to begin my MBA, something told me to come home and visit my family, since I hadn't seen them in six months. It meant deferring the start of my MBA studies. Mom was sounding stuffy and looking ashy on our Skype conversations, but she insisted I not worry and that it was just a cough. But later she was diagnosed with pneumonia.
When I arrived back in Canada, my sister said to me, "Whit, mom just got off the phone with the doctor and it's not pneumonia. There is a mass in her chest." Her family doctor set up tests to rule out the mass as being cancerous.
The ensuing weeks involved me arranging my schedule to have as many flights from Dubai to Toronto as possible, and I would sneak home during layovers to check on mom. She was growing increasingly unwell. We would go to the hospital and get admitted, then released after her lungs were drained of peculiar liquid, and the tachycardia lessened. A biopsy was performed in her lower abdomen where inflammation was being noted on CT scans. Yet again, she was released to resume normal day to day activities, but she could barely leave her bed or walk to the bathroom in her own home.
On another layover from Dubai, we insisted she go back to the hospital. The liquid was building up and nearly drowning her from the inside. Finally, we received the diagnosis: Mom had stage four non-Hodgkins-lymphoma. They were going to transfer her to ICU for immediate treatment and hopefully build her up enough to take her first course of chemotherapy in the hospital.
My mom went through poking and prodding, hospital infections, and intubation, among other things. During her seven-week hospital stay, she grew emaciated and was of course given hospital food at the most vulnerable time of her life.
One day, my dad and I visited her in the hospital and went for a quick dim-sum lunch. He looked at me and said: "Mommy wants you to come home." I will never know if she found some way to communicate to him through her sedated state, or if he needed me to return. I responded: "I'm coming home, daddy."
The visa cancellation process and resignation from my job in Dubai was completed in a week's time. I came home, and along with my sister, I prepared food for mom and took it to the hospital. One night, in my super-energetic yet entirely exhausted state, I stumbled across the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN) and sent an email inquiring about the program. I knew it was for me. I went by the school the next week to register. Throughout my mom's chemotherapy, I was working full time and studying full time.
My mom has been free of cancer for nearly two years now. I graduated from CSNN in October 2014. It all brings joy to my world and tears to my eyes.
Each time I revisit this story of my life, I realize how grateful I am for the opportunity to come closer to my truest calling. It is my aim to assist others to be the best version of themselves by understanding that we can fuel our bodies and minds for life by supporting ailments or imbalances through nutritionally dense, macrobiotically and microbiotically well-balanced meals.
Be good to you.