I have been a nurse for over 15 years, but a few years ago, I became a patient myself. I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. I had no family history and was very shocked at the news. As I began my treatment with chemotherapy and planned for surgery, I began researching what my risk factors could be or more importantly, why did this happen to me. Once I began searching, I learned that so many things in our modern society are carcinogenic or disrupt our immune system in some way.
I was also now on more medicines than I had ever been on in my life, none of which were to treat the cancer, which was now, thankfully, in remission. I was being treated with omeprazole for gastric reflux. I was also started on testosterone for my symptoms of insomnia, depression and low libido. Along with the testosterone, I was taking a statin drug to control my cholesterol.
While I was grateful to be in remission from cancer, I did not want to be taking all these other medications for the rest of my life. Therefore, I began trying to follow a cleaner diet by trying to eliminate processed foods and refined sugar as well as taking probiotics. I also learned I had obstructive sleep apnea, which was exacerbating my reflux and chronic tension headaches. Once I began treatment for my obstructive sleep breathing, my headaches and sleep quality improved.
Slowly, I began feeling better and was able to stop the medicine for my gastric reflux. I was not comfortable with taking testosterone or any other medications unless my life depended on it. I have been much more aware of the choices that I make every day that will impact my health. I also am trying to lead by example for the rest of my family as well as my friends and patients.
I am now passionate about trying to help others understand the importance of their diet and lifestyle choices on not only their immediate health, but long term to prevent chronic illness and the damage that they can do to our bodies. Through my experience as a nurse practitioner in sleep medicine as well as my own personal experiences, I understand how important the role of sleep is for all of us and the devastating effects of chronic sleep deprivation despite diet and exercise. I like helping patients learn new techniques and habits for making it easier to get the sleep that we all need.