As a kid, I was the one who would run home to get Band-Aids when someone got hurt playing football. Even then, I knew I was destined to help people somehow, in some way related to health.
Following my pre-med studies at the University of Connecticut, and then receiving my doctorate, I started and grew a thriving practice. It really was enjoyable for me to help people resolve their chronic health issues. Individuals with migraines, dizziness, pain, and weakness were not getting results with what medicine offered.
To be able to help them when nothing else worked was really exciting.
However, as years passed, my brain—not my body—got tired of treating just people with musculoskeletal—muscle and joint—issues. I needed a renewal, a revival of excitement for helping others. I wanted to know more and learn how to help more “advanced” cases, or individuals with seemingly unresolvable health issues.
I then discovered chiropractic neurology or functional neurology (FN). Yes! I had a renewed passion for turning on the lights in my office. The study of FN was so exciting, even addictive, as a deeper understanding of brain-based and neurological health issues became clearer.
I learned how to treat the more “difficult” cases using different methods, not just manipulative therapy, although that is still the most effective way to improve the nervous system. Over the next few years, I focused on neurology and began attracting patients from all over—Maine, Florida, the Midwest. The more I learned, the more I applied, and seemingly impossible issues were getting better.
I had finally found my niche.
With the passing of time, in my mind, I was “living the dream.” My practice was busy. I was renovating a new home and socking away money for retirement. I was also involved in a relationship that was moving in the right direction, or so I thought.
Suddenly, like a clap of thunder, my world began to implode. At the busiest time of my career, I discovered that a trusted employee was stealing from me. In the midst of home renovations, my relationship turned caustic. All of this chaos was happening at the same time! As my relationship ended, and I realized how much money I had dumped into the renovations, I feared that my employee’s theft could threaten my practice (my livelihood).
That caused me to freak out and constantly worry.
While juggling the stressors, I fell into a pattern of eating crappy foods, and I drank red wine to calm my nerves and sedate myself to sleep. For the most part, that didn’t work, as I lay awake at night with my stomach twisting in knots as I contemplated my personal hell.
About two years after the major crises ended, I began to feel “off.” I developed a progressive fatigue, as if I were fighting an infection.
At the same time, I was losing weight, although my appetite was normal. In addition to the weight loss and fatigue, I developed throbbing headache pain when I bent over. I also developed bed-soaking night sweats. Now I knew something was seriously wrong.
A blood test showed that my level of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)—a biomarker measuring tissue destruction—was off the charts. That led me to seek a diagnosis. A few days later, as I was staring x-rays of my chest, the radiologist said “You have a giant tumor in your chest.”
Ugh! We hear stress kills, but here was the disturbing proof.
Left with no choice, I had to have chemo to start destroying the cancer. After 7 months of chemo and 4 weeks of radiation, a surgeon cracked open my chest to remove a 5-inch tumor consisting of scar tissue and cancer cells—non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
During chemo, I remember hearing “We’re giving you the strongest stuff.” That warmed my heart! It’s such a creepy feeling to watch them inject toxic red fluid into your veins, not knowing what the side effects will be, and if you will survive the treatment.
While going through cancer-treatment hell, I never lost sight of victory. I kept my eye on the finish line. I knew I would live and rebuild myself back to excellent health.
The moment I woke up from surgery was a new beginning for me.
My victory over a serious disease was achieved by using standard medical treatment with my own critical thinking.
I had pushed the oncologist, surgeon, and nurses to think about me as an individual, to think “outside the box” when devising my treatments. Finally, I had convinced them to do surgery they never would have considered if I had not insisted.
It took a tremendous amount of personal research, initiative, and effort to get them to listen to me, and to try something that was not part of the usual protocol for my diagnosis. Perhaps the reason I finally was able to get through to them is because I am a doctor; I can speak their language.
In a powerful realization, it then hit me how difficult, if not impossible, it must be for someone who isn’t a health professional, or doesn’t have the knowledge to suggest something different, to challenge the current system.
If I hadn’t challenged my cancer team and pushed for the surgery to remove the mass in my chest, I would have followed the “standards of care”; most likely, I wouldn’t be here to tell my story.
My quest for something better than just reactive—something requiring more critical thought and a plan—began after my personal experience. During my cancer care, and certainly after it was finished, I wanted to rebuild myself, not only to prevent a recurrence. I wanted to see if I could take my health and fitness to a new level.
Sadly, there are no standard-of-care guidelines to help you rebuild from and prevent recurrence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and other chronic ailments. Enter functional medicine.
Functional medicine is a method of uncovering why disease happens and how to reverse conditions while, at the same time, restoring health. Like an archaeologist digs for fossils, a specialist in functional medicine digs for physical clues to understand the origins of your disease.
Using the principles of functional medicine alongside countless hours, days, and weeks of research, I mapped out a plan to quickly rebuild my body back to excellent health.
To discover what that plan was, I suggest reading REBUILD.
I promise you will be overwhelmingly glad you did.
After the chemo, radiation and then surgery, I asked my medical team what I could do and should do to prevent a recurrence and restore my health.
As expected, they were unable to offer me any information I could use to get me back to good health. As I always do, I dove into the research. I wanted to know why and how I had developed disease. I also wanted to put together a plan, some protocol to restore my health, prevent future health issues, and rebuild myself back to excellent health.
Which brings me to the point of writing REBUILD.
I wrote REBUILD because I wanted to rebuild my body and restore my health back to excellence, and I wanted to prevent any future health issues.
I looked for professionals and read other books that could help me understand what I needed to do to rebuild myself. Basically, I couldn’t find anything. Nothing was really available. There were bits and pieces, but no comprehensive, state-of-the-art plan or program that could show me how to rebuild myself.
I dove into the best research to create a personal protocol that allowed me to rebuild myself to a level of health that exceeded how I was before. The research clearly showed that all health issues and disease have common threads in their causes.
Although a diagnosis may differ from person to person, if this plan worked for me, it could work for others with chronic conditions or serious disease. These principles and protocol worked to help people stabilize autoimmune diseases and reduce inflammation associated with heart disease.
Blood sugars came back to normal; gut issues resolved; hormones improved. It was amazing to see the changes in the health of my patients.
So, I wrote REBUILD to provide accurate information to others about chronic health issues and disease—information that has worked for me and my patients.
By writing REBUILD, I also realized I would impact not just those who I saw in my practice. I would have the potential to impact help others living in “medical deserts,” where they may not have access to this information and functional medicine.
Basically, REBUILD became my calling.
What can someone expect out of reading REBUILD?
It’s not just another diet or fitness or health book. It’s also not just a rewriting of information with a twist of old material.
REBUILD allows readers to create personal plans unique to their health issues, their health needs.
It was written from a place of personal experience.
While it is packed with information and research, it provides all the right steps and emotional support to help someone finally understand and overcome health challenges.
It’s also an incredible tool readers can use to create educated conversations with their doctors. Rather than relying on just what the doctor has to say, it educates patients in a way that can help their doctors resolve health issues. Learning about the anatomy of disease, and then using the 5 steps in the book, readers can improve their health and recover from chronic health issues or serious disease.
REBUILD also contains countless medical tests that can help readers better understand why conditions develop and what they can do to assist in their treatments and monitor their progress back to good health. You don’t need another health book or source.
Everything someone needs to resolve health issues is all in one place.
My answer is to ask “What are the consequences if you don’t?” Seriously, eating well is just making a decision to consciously modify your habits and rituals to eliminate the foods proven to cause ill health and, instead to eat healthful nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. The amount of exercise someone needs or should do isn’t much.
I also wanted to take my fitness and health to a level that I saw fit—no pun intended. I wanted to be my own experiment to see what principles that I teach would actually work.
I tell people they can take their health and fitness to whatever level they want. They don’t have to take it to the level I did. In reality, it’s not that hard to get in good shape . . . it’s not!
You just have to create a personal food plan and exercise program that works for you. I have provided all the information readers need to create unique “rebuild” plans for themselves.
Depending on one’s specific health issue and physical abilities, impairments or disabilities, you can create a food and exercise plan unique to you. We all can’t eat the same food or the same amount, nor can we exercise the same way. Sadly, there is crazy, conflicting, and confusing information about food, fad diets, and the “right” way to exercise. It’s no wonder people give up, because it can be overwhelming.
Coming from a place of personal experience, I can say there is a right way to eat and exercise, but it has to be unique to you. The steps in REBUILD will allow you to create a personal plan unique to your needs.
I just turned 50, and I am 10 years cancer free—a Cancer Victor!
If I can get in shape and be well, even after what I’ve been through, anyone can improve their health and body composition.
o Start the day with a cocktail of liquid vitamins—grape-seed extract, magnesium, and vitamin C;
o Followed by 1–2 cups of black coffee;
o Breakfast: 2–3 eggs (omelette or frittata) and side of veggies (Brussels sprouts, sweet potato cubes);
o Mid-morning snack: 1/4 cup hummus with 10–12 rice crackers or cut-up veggies (cauliflower, broccoli), 10 walnuts, and a piece of fruit—typically an apple;
o Lunch: 4–5-ounce piece of protein—usually cut-up chicken over a big salad containing cut up carrots and/or beets. The protein varies. Sometime I eat egg salad or chicken salad with a full green salad loaded with rainbow-colored veggies (red, orange, and yellow bell peppers);
o Mid-afternoon snack: 1–2 additional eggs, or a beef stick—chomps—for additional protein. 1/4–1/2 cup hummus and veggies, another piece of fruit, and another 10–12 nuts;
o Dinner: Healthful serving of greens and another source of protein. The protein can be grass-fed burger, turkey burger, or meat sauce.
o After-dinner snack is usually some vegetable like cut-up cucumber, or red, orange, yellow bell peppers. I make it a point not to eat any carbs at night to avoid raising my insulin levels, which would shut off growth hormone.
My current weight-training routine is working my upper body on day 1, lower body on day 2, and high-intensity interval training cardio on day 3. I repeat that schedule on days 4–6, then take a day off on day 7. I try to hit all muscle groups twice a week, depending on my work schedule. I also adjust my routine if my work schedule prevents me from getting to the gym for a few days—which is happening more than I like!
Why Cancer Victor?
I came up with Cancer Victor® to reframe the way we think about the journey and battle through disease—more specifically, cancer. Cancer Victor is more positive, more energizing, and respectful. If you won the battle or war, you are a victor!
I had no idea what to expect physically and emotionally, knowing I would have to endure toxic and damaging cancer treatments; time out of the office; and possible financial pressures. In my mind I was also sure that I would get through crisis care and rebuild myself back to excellent health.
In my gut, I knew I would live to tell my story. Thinking about my diagnosis, prognosis, and future became a time for me to reset my health goals, those that would take me beyond survival to thriving and really living.
It was also a time to re-evaluate my career and a new direction for my practice. At the time, my new path was unclear, but my choices were clear. I chose to focus on changing my perception of stressors. I made sure I ate nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. Exercising became a natural remedy that was baked into my schedule.
I also decided to “pull the weeds” and disassociate with those who were full of drama and negativity.
Receiving a diagnosis of a disease was a new beginning and an opportunity for me.
For every negative event or traumatic event, there is always a blessing; you just need to see what those blessings are. While you are in the throes of the negative, it’s hard to see what positive things may unfold. This takes time. From my diagnosis and quest to rebuild myself, I have written REBUILD. I am working with an Emmy Award-winning producer on a documentary called “Now What?” I have a new perspective when sitting with my patients who are suffering, confused, fearful, and looking for answers.
Asking yourself “Now what?” when receiving a diagnosis becomes a time to reassess your lifestyle and a chance to pivot your choices that bring you physically and emotionally closer to your wellness goals.
If you are dealing with a diagnosis, I recommend you reframe your thoughts to create a strong image of what your personal goals are and what you want in the future. You now have an opportunity to reprioritize your life, gain a new perspective, feel more alive, and engage in life and with others. You may look deep and find yourself taking your personal journey perhaps down a path to educate and motivate others and, of course, give hope to those who think there is no hope.
Whatever it is you are dealing with, a diagnosis is not your destiny; it becomes a choice. It creates a path for you to move forward and, perhaps, a chance to be something more.
Anyone dealing with a chronic health issue (as I say, a life-depleting condition) or serious disease has to believe that the current state of health is no longer an option—that staying that way is no longer sustainable. Basically, a person has to feel a reason for making a change; it has to be heart-felt. People won’t commit to something unless they have emotional skin in the game.
In the transition phase, a person is no longer satisfied where they are, but are not yet where they want to be. Sometimes in this changing period, you may need some emotional support, and maybe a little motivation.
What’s really motivating is the changes you will see in your body, in your physiology, like improving certain aspects of your blood work. Or measuring and seeing a reduction in body fat. These, at least, I think are good motivators.
Last, the future state. This is where you must have a clear and motivating picture of the future you want, the future you want to create. Here, again, you have to create an exciting emotionally felt vision for what you want. Perhaps that is to be around for your family, or to have excellent health and no recurrence. You have to own this in your heart again. You have to ask what the future looks like in your mind and be excited about it.
These mental and emotional stages have to happen in order for someone to commit to improved health.
Until someone has “hit the wall” regarding the current state of health, it’s difficult for them to commit to what needs to be done to resolve the health issues. As Dr. Jeff Bland has said “The biggest obstacle most people face when making meaningful changes in their health is the inability to see beyond the sacrifice of the required changes to the payoff of improved health and vitality.”
I also love just hanging out in a coffee shop listening to music and working on my laptop, figuring out the outline for the next book.
I practice what I teach. My diet consists of nutrient-dense foods, including plenty of greens and rainbow-colored vegetables, healthful grass-fed and wild-caught protein, and healthful fats.
I understand the frustrations people experience when navigating the typical nightmare health care system of the 7-minute visit with a prescription of pills as an end result.
Another goal as part of my mission is to provide real research and present it in a way that is digestible and actionable for those who see it or hear it. There are a ton of websites and individuals who publish information that is conflicting and confusing. It’s no wonder people get frustrated and give up trying to help themselves.
Perhaps it’s a grandiose idea, but I would love my own TV show to provide real information, research, and tools people need to fix themselves. It would be a great way to revolutionize the way people experience real health care, and to teach them the principles of functional medicine.
I’ve been through it and I’ve rebuilt myself.
I can do the same for you.
Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport, CT, 2013
Bachelor of Science Degree University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 1989 Major in Biology/Pre-med