As most of you know I’ve been through A LOT health-wise. Diagnosed with Stage 2 HER2+ breast cancer in 2022 then going through 6 rounds of chemo, 2 surgeries, and 25 rounds of radiation all in one year. Not to mention giving birth a year before that and breastfeeding for a year! I am happy to come out of this alive and well - but my body has been through the wringer!! I’ve had a lot of toxins pumped through my body killing everything in it’s path, and had depleted a lot of my nutrients through pregnancy and breastfeeding for a year. So after all my treatment was over - I decided it was finally time to give back to my body. But how?
After I finished treatment I didn’t feel good - like at all. I was so exhausted well after treatment and I just didn’t feel right. My doctors kept insisting it was just side effects that were lasting longer, all my bloodwork was “normal”, but I decided to take matters into my own hands. I decided to go see a Functional Medicine Doctor to take a deep dive into my health.
My first appointment was 2 hours. It was amazing. Usually, when I go to my PCP they do the bare minimum. Do you feel ok? Good … you’re fine, here’s your flu shot. Ummmm what??? Aren’t you going to do tests? I have so many questions!! I actually felt heard here. The doctor listened to all my questions. She took her time. She asked me questions not only about my physical health but also my mental health. She talked about the importance of sleep, mental health, what my poop was supposed to look like, and everything in between. I have NEVER received such extensive care - even through my cancer treatments, unfortunately. When I was being treated for cancer there was a plan - and that’s what I did. I had to outsource for other care for my mental health, although the resources were there - the doctors had one agenda - to get rid of the cancer. And of course, I appreciate that! It makes sense - but Functional Medicine went above and beyond how I was feeling to get to the root cause and help me feel better.
The doctor proceeded to do a series of tests to figure out what was the root cause of my issues. I was absolutely exhausted, my gut was a mess, I wasn’t regular, my skin felt bleh, and I was anxious all the time and having nightly panic attacks. I was a mess. This doctor wasn’t trying to mask my issues with Advil - she wanted to figure out WHY I was feeling this way. I had extensive blood work done (14 viles yikes!!) that tested everything from vitamins, minerals, cholesterol, and blood cell count - the works. I also had a food sensitivity test through a finger prick, a blood glucose test through saliva, and microbiome testing through a stool sample (this was unpleasant but worth it ha!). The results were incredible.
The biggest thing was that I was absolutely depleted in Magnesium and Ferritin. Magnesium functions in the body for immune support helps maintain nerve and muscle function, and keeps your heart and bones strong. Ferritin is an iron storage protein and it makes iron available for cellular processes. Therefore I was not absorbing iron. No wonder I was so tired!!! She immediately put me on a supplement regimen of magnesium and ferritin and I felt the benefits almost instantly. I had more energy but was also calmer to the same extent. I was getting more quality sleep, and my foot cramps stopped at night.
She also found that my gut was a mess. Chemo did its job killing my cancer - but it also killed my microbiome. I was put on a good probiotic, L-Glutamine, and some digestive enzymes (as those were low) and I felt so much better. She also put me on Oregano which helped tame some not-so-great bacteria that was found in my gut.
We also found out about some food sensitivities that I have - turns out dairy is not my friend along with some nuts and gluten. We figured out that it’s okay that I eat these things, but I have to ensure that I don’t eat them all in one sitting. So that plain Greek yogurt I was having with peanut butter and berries that was killing my stomach - yep had to stop that. I now have a better understanding of what foods don’t sit right with me and WHY - and I can plan better when choosing my meals so I don’t feel bloated or tired. It’s truly amazing!
Why am I telling you all of this? I am sharing this story so you can advocate for yourself. Don’t wait for symptoms to persist to take action. Be PROACTIVE instead of REACTIVE towards your health. Ask questions - and if you’re not satisfied with the answers - go somewhere else. That’s what I did - and I’m glad that I did because I feel SO much better. I am more energized, calmer, and don’t feel bloated anymore! You don’t realize how great you can feel if you just take action.
Author: Melissa Dupuis