Most wouldn’t think having cancer can’t make you healthier, but for me it did. It started with a trip to the Emergency room which turned my teenage life upside down. It turned out I had cancer; I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The words cancer and Lymphoma had no meaning to me. I had no idea what a tumor was or what was going to happen as a result, but by the look on my mother’s face I knew it wasn’t good.

My health journey began on this day. I never would have thought that ultimately, cancer would make me healthier. The experience forever changed how I live my life. It was not an easy process. I had to depend on my parents and they took charge. It seemed I made it through treatment more smoothly and comfortably than other kids undergoing treatment at the time. I recall one of my doctors visiting me and commenting on my appearance; she said I did not look sick at all.

I credit the methods used by my parents, who combined Eastern and Western healing traditions to help me get through 6 months of treatment. My diet was changed. Instead of junk food I consumed only real whole foods. This is not easy for adults, imagine for a teenager! The last thing I wanted to do was eat healthy food. However, my mom figured out how to make healthy food taste good with the exception of wheatgrass at the time (now I love it!).

My mom cooked everything from scratch. One of my favorite dishes is chile verde salsa chicken. On the days when chemo left me feeling tired and exhausted my mom would cook this special dish for me. This would satisfy my taste buds and helped lift my spirits and made chemo easier to cope with. This was one of the many dishes that ignited my love for real foods.

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