The Silver Lining in Healing an Incurable Disease

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thank you to everyone who bought tickets to Life is Sweet, Even in February. Tickets are now sold out and I'm over-the-moon thrilled and overwhelmed and generally just really excited! I can't believe the show is a little over a week away!

The Life is Sweet project is about a few things for me: honouring my mom, getting people talking about mental illness and loss and also spreading the message that life truly is sweet, in spite of the challenges we face along the way. One of the people who most embodies that message for me is my dear friend Meghan who has been a great supporter of my journey and this project. I love Meghan's perspective on life and she continues to inspire me to keep pushing forward throughout any challenges that come my way. 

Are you always so happy?

This is something get asked more than anything else. It is a strange question as I can’t say that I wake up thinking- wow, am I ever happy today, or aren’t I lucky to be this happy?

My disposition isn’t something I think about, but I guess it’s the same with our physical health. We don’t give either much thought until something breaks, or begins to fall apart.

I definitely haven’t always had a smile on my face. In 2006, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a condition that is commonly believed to have no cure. I was given the options of surgery and medication for the rest of my life, without the potential of a cure. My doctor told me that diet would have no effect and that I would have to learn to live with it.

Not one to play by the rules, I decided to create my own rules and UnDiet my life. I chose a natural route that included meditation, yoga, acupuncture, rest and a diet comprised of whole, unprocessed foods. Within one month I was symptom free and remain so to this day.

What I realized in going through the process of getting my body healthy, was that my mind- my thoughts had to follow. The body is rarely in a state of illness without bringing the mind and spirit along- and vice versa. It’s all part of the same system. I realized that if I were to become truly healthy, happiness would have to be part of it.

I decided that getting well would have to be the most fun I’ve ever had. I continue everyday to work at being happy. I meditate, I exercise, I sleep well, I maintain and work to have healthy relationships in all facets of my life and I work equally hard to find happiness, joy and reward in the work that I do. Healthy food is part of the equation but no salad will heal our woes if we spend 12 of our 14 waking hours hating what it is we have to do and who we have to spend our time with.

I am firm on the fact that getting sick was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, and getting well has been the greatest adventure.  In overcoming and healing from my illness, I learned a lot. My mom calls it my PhD in life.

Five of the key lessons I learned that continue to support my health and my happiness are:

1. Take other opinions with a grain of salt.

It is just ourselves and our current situation that really matter. I received the opinion that I had an incurable disease and nothing I ate or did regarding my lifestyle would have an effect. I was called “crazy” for attempting to do what I was told was impossible. We can allow others opinions to offend, maim and harm us, but how does it serve us to to believe the negativity of others?

2. Yoga is more than twisting yourself into a pretzel.

I used to be one of those before-work workout nut heads who rolled into the gym at 6:00 a.m., kicked my own bottom for an hour until I felt drained and depleted. When high-impact workouts were no longer an option, I turned to yoga. Yoga is a gazillion times harder than climbing a stair master or doing crunches until you want to puke—because it makes you actually look at yourself from the inside and address what may not be working.

3. Wait out the storms and the sunshine and rainbows will appear- if you’re looking.

I have been accused of always seeking the silver lining, or not being realistic in my hopes and dreams for my life. That’s not to say that challenges don’t continue to drop on me. The change though is how I have learned to better cope and trust that something good will come from it- even if that good is just a wicked tough learning experience.

4. When something goes wrong in our body or in our mind— fighting doesn’t help us heal.
They greatest way to promote our own suffering is to continue resisting what is and the way things are. When we can learn to feed and nourish and give ourselves what is needed to work with the challenge rather than against it, that is how we heal.

5. I am better off happily creating than creating to be happy.
We think that if we work now, even if we hate it, that the benefits or payoff will bring happiness to the future version of ourselves. When I think back five years to the life I thought I was working towards, it is definitely not what would make me happy today. Wouldn’t it be a waste of precious time to take on misery now and try to achieve something that is only serving to satisfy and bring joy to a future version of myself? I would end up disappointed for a good portion of my life.

Things can change in an instant, with a diagnosis, a disaster—anything! The greatest gift we can offer ourselves is to wake up happy, excited about the day ahead, and go to bed pleased with the job that we did, accepting that the process itself is the outcome, and that we did our very best at every given moment.

Meghan Telpner is a Toronto based nutritionista and sought after media personality thanks to her refreshingly humorous, engaging and real approach to healthy living. Her online cooking courses and health programs are improving the health of people around the world. Meghan’s book UnDiet, Eat Your Way to Vibrant Health will be released North America wide in April, 2013. Join Meghan’s community on twitter @MeghanTelpner, or on Facebook at Meghan Telpner Nutritionista. For more visit

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