Hi there, I’m Michelle. I’m a 33 year old South African Cypriot. I was born and raised in SA and at the age of 21 I moved to Cyprus to study Graphic Design and I’ve been here ever since.
I was raised like most people are raised… eating meat. Having a braai (BBQ / Souvla) in SA is the thing you did on almost every weekend. And biltong was the snack of choice on any occasion but especially when watching sports. I never really thought too much about how my food got on my plate little did i know that it would become so significant in my life later on.
In 2013 my whole life changed within a few days. I had just arrived back to Cyprus from SA and after a couple of days I got really sick. It started with a rash all over my body that I first thought must have been caused by my clothing. Then I got a sore throat and fever leading me to believe i caught the flu. But then I started to get really bad joint pain, so painful that i couldn’t move my legs or arms. I’d never experienced anything like that before. The morning after my first high fever stint, I got up to get ready to go to work and I just threw up. I felt dizzy and weak and the joint pain was excruciating. I ended up going to the local doctor who diagnosed me with Scarlet Fever. He prescribed me penicillin but the next day my rash got worse which lead him to believe I was allergic.
I went in the following day to be given another antibiotic (Vancomycin), one that is prescribed to patients allergic to penicillin. Ironically I ended up having an allergic reaction to that antibiotic and due to some carelessness on his part I went into anaphylactic shock and almost died. I will never forget that day and how i felt before i passed out. It was the worst feeling in the world. I had to be given 5 adrenaline shots to come back to, I had no blood pressure and once i was stable enough the paramedics took me to the E.R.
I spent 2 weeks in ICU so that my body could recover from the ordeal and then I spent another 2 weeks in the pathology ward where the doctors poked and prodded me trying to figure out what was initially wrong with me (Yup, you guessed it, I did not have Scarlet Fever.)
In the end I was finally diagnosed with Adult Still’s Disease. It’s a pretty rare autoimmune disease that affects the joints, similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis. Unfortunately there is no test and the only way to diagnose it is by means of elimination. So i was basically tested for everything under the sun.
After everything that happened to me with the local doctor and the doctors in the hospital wanting to give me antibiotics for illnesses they didn’t even know I had; I started to lose a lot of faith in doctors in general. Thankfully the hospital had wifi and I started to Google everything. I Googled things like “what happens to your body when you go into anaphylactic shock”, “what happens when your body is given 5 adrenaline shots t”, “what is an autoimmune disease.” I would take my hospital charts and take photos to analyse what was written and research my medications. I became crazy and consumed with wanting to learn more. I didn’t trust anyone and I refused to take any medication without first knowing everything there was to know about it. The anaphylactic shock affected me so much that i refused to take anything. I was petrified that it would affect me the same way again.
In the end, once I had been diagnosed, I was prescribed with a cocktail of drugs the most crucial being prednisone (cortisone). I have so many bad things to say about this drug that i could write a book. I absolutely hate cortisone. It is the worst drug ever. It affects you in so many bad ways and is so bad for you. The side effects of it made me want to get off it immediately! I was taking high doses and I ended up taking it for about 1 year.
In my search for natural healing I became this crazed health freak, I quit smoking (i would smoke a pack of cigarettes a day), I started yoga, i bought as many books as i could on how to heal yourself naturally, i watched documentaries and i was glued to the computer. I became an ingredient reading fiend (I still do this by the way). I didn’t know too much but I knew that I couldn’t live my life like this anymore. I didn’t want to live my life bloated like the Michelin man and with mood swings that would just make me the biggest bitch in the world.
One day i came across a documentary called “Crazy Sexy Cancer” by Kris Carr. This documentary changed my life. Kris Carr’s journey to healing her cancer through a plant based diet made such an impact on me. I decided to stop eating meat and stuck with just fish. I told myself i would try it out to see how I would feel. I went months without ever missing it or craving it. After a few more months i started to limit my consumption of fish and dairy as well. Then without even realising it I was making my meals purely vegan, and i loved it! I loved how i felt i loved the taste and energy I got from it. I loved experimenting in the kitchen. It became my own little project.
After a year i managed to come off my cortisone and after a few more months I came off all my other medication too. It was a long and hard journey but I never had a flare up when stopping the medication. I remember my rheumatologist wanting me to stay on methotrexate (a drug that you would take to replace and help come off cortisone). The only reason she allowed me to go off it is because I lied and said i wanted to have a child because I knew you couldn’t while on this drug. I was desperate to come off all the medication. I knew that I didn’t need the pills, I could feel myself healing…isnt that insane?
I will never forget my doctor saying to me during one of my check-ups that she almost never has a patient come off cortisone without even 1 flare up. No one knows how you get an autoimmune disease, nor do they know how to cure it or when or if it will ever flare up again. I honestly believe that with this lifestyle I will not get a flare up again. I have been in remission for over 1 year already.
There are so many more reasons why i believe in a plant based diet. I am healthier now than I ever was even before i got sick. I can go to bed knowing that I live my life cruelty free and i know that I’m doing that little bit to help not only the animals but to reduce my carbon footprint. There are a million reasons as to why everyone should adopt this lifestyle and no real reasons as to why you shouldn’t. I wish everyone could know how great you can really feel in your body.