My Personal Testimony
STILL STANDING: Sugar and CANE Free!
by: Michelle Edmonds, M.A. M.Ed.
Like every child, my main goals in life were to learn how to eat without drooling, and then how to walk. First we crawl then we stand, then we stumble; it is the same progression for most of us. As you can see from my photo, I mastered eating. So, all in all, it appeared that I was shaping up to be a very normal little girl. I listened to my parents most of the time. I was a bright child and a bored student. My favorite cartoon was Popeye. My favorite Mouseketeer was Annette Funicello. My favorite pastime was spending time with my father. In high school I ran track. I was a cheerleader. Never could I have imagined that just 37 years later I would be diagnosed with a disease that threatened my first true mission in life; to simply walk. Further, who would guess that me and my “Mickey Mouse” friend Annette, would grow up with the same diagnosis.Photo: Michelle Edmonds
About 3 months old and not yet walking
Michelle, now walking
I should state at the outset that I am a now grown-up Christian (on most days!) and currently a member of a large non-denominational church in Atlanta. I always heard that if you seek to help others improve their health, you will be attacked with sickness. If you seek to house the homeless, you will be threatened with homelessness. And yet, continued perseverance in that area, allows one to triumph over the personal attack. It is a well-known spiritual truth.
Thus, just two years after my husband Harry Edmonds and I opened our business, which we named Serenity Health and Body Shoppe and Café, I was attacked with a potentially disabling, life threatening illness.
In 1997, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The initial presenting symptoms included paralysis in my left eye (the eye ball would not move) , intermittent blindness, severe weakness in my legs, that caused over stepping, tripping and falling down stairs. There were also bouts of severe pain in my right arm, that extended from my hand to my shoulder blade for no apparent reason. Since I am right handed, this symptom made it difficult to write and therefore work. Fatigue was almost unbearable.
At the emergency room numerous tests were run, however, I declined a "spinal tap" and checked myself out “against physician’s advice”. Although I was discharged sometime between 3-4 am, my husband and I opened our vitamin shoppe and vegetarian café that next morning, on time. I still had not received a diagnosis and the symptoms persisted. I did however fill a prescription for sunglasses with a special “prism”, to help correct the vision. I wore these glasses throughout the day, and removed them at night to conduct an in-person weight loss class at one of our locations. My clients did not seem to notice that one eyeball was not moving.
Over the next several weeks, I was referred to a neurologist. I was even referred to a massage therapist, for the neck pain. I was told that I might have a brain tumor or Lyme disease. Instead, the brain MRI revealed that I had multiple “brain stem lesions”, explaining why certain areas of my body had been affected. I was told the symptoms were consistent with MS and that I had the “relapsing-remitting" type. The relapsing-remitting type of multiple sclerosis is characterized by periods of being symptomatic, followed by recovery cycles, followed by yet another relapse that would be worse than the previous one. With each relapse, rarely is there a return to the previous level of functioning.
Nevertheless, I continued to decline all standard pharmaceuticals traditionally given to MS patients. I declined to use a cane. I continued to decline sugar and foods containing sugar. I was already a vegetarian, so additional dietary changes were minimal. However, for strength and endurance, I incorporated salmon and other forms of wild caught fish, along with my steamed veggies and salads. I increased my intake of good fats, such as extra virgin olive oil. Wheat, cereals and pastas were eliminated from my diet, now more popularly referred to as a gluten-free diet. This is also known as the PALEO (or Cave Man) lifestyle. A gluten-free diet helps control for yeast, parasites and other food allergies.
I also immersed myself in an exhaustive study on alternative (holistic) treatment protocols for MS. Based on my findings, I gathered supplements from my own health food store and added massive doses of minerals, such as magnesium, calcium and selenium. I began taking massive doses of essential fatty acids. Unbeknownst to me, I was incorporating Dr. Joel Wallach's "mineral deficiency" theory, which states that all disease, including obesity, is the manifestation of mineral deficiencies.
In the meantime, although the weight loss classes focused on education and wellness, its phenomenal growth was attributed to the fact that many customers were feeling better, while also aggressively losing weight. With the expansion, we chose not to change the name of our anchor store, however the nutritional component was named The Serenity Weight Loss and Detoxification Program© (SWLDP) In 1997, a 2nd retail SWLDP location opened in Valley Stream, New York. On most Saturday’s, there was standing room only in the reception area, with additional customers waiting in the hall, of the main office building. The program has serviced over 12,000; we stopped counting in 2009.
SWLDP is unique compared to weight loss only programs. Our main distinction is that we provide a no-hype, straightforward, educational approach to weight loss, which we believe has become our brand. Our philosophy is simple: Garbage out (detox your system); Garbage in (stop it!) and Restore and Repair (with liquid vitamins and minerals)
Our proudest accomplishment to date occurred in 2013 with the launch of the SERENITY CHALLENGE; a faith-based , 14 day wellness initiative, targeted first to Bishops, Pastors and members of their congregation. Our private angel-investors are a private couple in based in New Jersey. Individuals may also participate for a nominal co-pay.
Of course, we are especially effective helping those with autoimmune diseases, such as sarcoidosis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, sickle cell and fibromyalgia. How do we know what we teach works? Well, for one, I am walking and some of my very favorite icons have not even survived. I am thankful.
Famous individuals diagnosed with multiple sclerosis :
Annette Funicello - singer, dancer, former Mouseketeer
See blog posting about her death @:
Teri Garr - Actress
Tamara Dobson - American actress and fashion model
Lena Horne - Actress and singer
Iman Ali - Pakistani actor and model
Barbara Jordan - Congress woman, professor, civil rights activist
Richard Pryor - comedian and actor
Anne Romney - wife of Mitt Romney
Wendy Carol Roth - Television producer, writer and Advocate for the Disabled
Tamia - R&B singer
Montel Williams - talk show host and M.S advocate
Michelle Obama’s father