24 June 2019
In January 2016, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis. Everybody sees it as little marks on the skin, but nobody realises what it does inside your body. Just like most autoimmune diseases, my immune system mistakenly sees my own body as a threat so it attacks itself 24/7. I didn't have much quality of life. I was incredibly weak, I had the energy level of a 95-year old, I had constant pain and mentally I felt like my body hated itself.
Saddest part was that I was so young and the mom of a beautiful boy that I had no energy or strength for. Simple things that most people could do, I couldn't. Bending over, going down on my knees, jumping up and down, all of it hurt, so I just didn't do it. I kept it a secret from almost everybody I knew, because it's hard for anyone to understand a disease that you cannot physically see. It's not cancer, but I have to take cancer drugs - so when my body isn't attacking itself, low dose chemo is. In essence, when asked how it felt, I generally had the same answer.... “You know the feeling when you getting a really bad flu? Your body aches, you have no energy, your mind is all foggy and all you want to do is be in bed...well it's like that every day of my life.” I cried, I was angry and I felt like I lost my life, and the freedom to do whatever I want without worrying about the pain, or exhaustion I'm going to suffer later for pushing my body.
BUT I also was not willing to give up, and even though I was told that I would live on life-long medication and continue fighting this disease, I refused to accept it. I had done research after research, and the one thing that kept on coming up was stem cells. At first I had no understanding of the concept, but I kept on reading up about studies, watching documentaries of people that had it done and finding out the different ways. In stepped Dr. Tommy van Wyk, the man that would truly change my life as I knew it. After meeting up with him, my heart was a little more relieved. Although we didn't know the success of the procedure, nor did we know what exactly it would achieve, we were both positive and believed that it would be an amazing success.
The journey began. I stopped my meds and the wait for the equipment to arrive had started - I was to be the first in Namibia, so it took a little longer to get sorted. Without the meds my body really started going at itself. A week before I was due to go in, I was literally in bed all day due to pain. My right knee wasn't even able to bend anymore. I pushed through, and finally the day arrived. I was so scared and so excited at the same time. You see, my mind had decided that I would be 1000% successful, so I knew that it was the last day of my old life, and the first day of my second chance - but I knew I had to undergo a scary procedure to get there. The changes were incredible, almost like little miracles happening one after the other. Some happened really quickly and others took a while. By the next morning, I could touch my toes in the shower and my limp was gone. My bruising from the treatment had disappeared overnight. The pain, it was gone and along with that, my energy levels had increased drastically. It was a success!! In the course of that week, my life as I knew it had changed and because of my opportunity, I made the effort to change with it. As much as I believe in miracles, I also believe that second chances mean you don't take anything for granted.
My newfound energy and lease on life made it easy. Amazing how much you are capable of when your body is working for you and not against you. Long story short, as I write this, I am going into my 11th month since treatment. I am still off all chemo meds, probably had 4 panados in total since my treatment, I have incredible energy, I very rarely get sick, I have zero pain and my second chance is all I dreamed it to be. But I also eat clean, I don't smoke, I don't drink, I exercise 6 times a week (because I can now), I am incredibly active and incredibly happy. I know what those little fighting stem cells did for me, but I am also realistic in what changes I needed to make to ensure that I had the best possible opportunity. It really does work, when you mind is right, your heart is right and you are willing to do what it takes. I am ever so grateful to Tommy, he was there every step of the way, and still is. I owe him so much, yet he stays humble and kind. If you ever had any doubts in your mind, if he says it is an option, take it. I have never looked back and I probably never will.
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