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Bob & Fran: How a Plant-Based Diet Saved Our Lives – Literally

The fundamentals of the McDougall Program are simple yet often difficult to implement. Star McDougallers have either adopted the Program themselves by learning from our website and books or joining one of our programs. For personalized help, learn more about the 12-Day McDougall Program. For questions on whether a change in diet can help your ailment, learn more about our consultations.
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We are both in our 80s and all about healthy aging with a whole-food plant-based lifestyle! We want to share our personal stories on how we both overcame life-threatening illnesses and went on to lead very healthy, happy and long lives!

Here is Fran’s story …

After returning home from a trip to China in the Fall of 1992, I started feeling some minor muscular changes but didn’t think too much of it. Then, one day, I woke up and couldn’t open one eye.

I went to my doctor who took one look at me and said he thought I had Bell’s Palsy. I then said to him, ‘No, I think it’s Myasthenia Gravis.’ I don’t know why I said that since MG is a very rare neuromuscular disease that even most doctors don’t know much about. He sent me to a neurologist who did a simple test and confirmed that my diagnosis was correct!

I was told that MG was incurable, I would have to be on medication for the rest of my life, and that my life expectancy would be shortened. In other words, my situation was hopeless!

I was prescribed several heavy-duty drugs including prednisone and was told there wasn’t much else that could be done. I suffered from severe double vision, had difficulty with my speech and swallowing and, at times, was so weak that I couldn’t hold my head up.

I chose not to accept that ‘verdict.’ Instead, I kept searching for ways to improve my health. I started practicing tai chi and qigong. I walked several miles each day. I tried to eat healthier (white meat chicken, turkey, and fish); although, at the time, I didn’t know much about what was and wasn’t healthy! I was very sick at times and even wound up in ICU for 5 days because of bad advice from an ‘internationally-known’ neurologist!

During my illness, I continued to search for some hope for a cure and wound up seeing 11 different neurologists! They all said just about the same thing as the first one. Not one suggested a change in lifestyle, including diet, as a possible remedy.

Then, in 2006, I heard a clinical nutritionist speak. He explained that eating animal products compromise the immune system and recommended patients with MG or any autoimmune disease switch to a whole-food plant-based diet. I immediately did so and in just a few months I was off all medications and no longer had any symptoms of this dreaded disease!

It is now 14 years later and I feel safe in saying that I no longer have this ‘incurable’ disease!  I am very thankful.“

And here is Bob’s story … about cancer.

In 2006, I also developed a serious health issue. I learned that I had a small tumor on the outside of my left kidney. My urologist advised me to have it removed as soon as possible. I went to a world-class medical center here in North Carolina and had cryoablation surgery, a procedure that froze the tumor off. Unfortunately, it turned out to be malignant.

The surgeon advised me that he got the entire growth but explained that this type of tumor has been known to return. He never brought up the idea of how changing what I eat could help prevent a recurrence of my cancer.

So, thanks to my wife Fran, and my desire to lessen the chance of recurrence, I also adopted a whole-food plant-based diet as a means of prevention and have been cancer-free for 14 years! I, too, am very thankful.  But wait, there’s more! We heard that my surgeon has since switched to the same diet as ours!

So there you have it! Our own stories on how switching to a whole-food plant-based diet can work to not only reverse disease, but it can also work to prevent it. We are now feeling Better Than Ever! It is our privilege to share our stories and hopefully inspire others.