Hero Spotlight: Whitney "Above all, value yourself"

What is a big challenge you had in the past and what did you do to overcome it?

Being a healthy and active mom, I was repeatedly shocked when not a single doctor I had been seeing could not find the root to my sudden illnesses. I had gone from hiking and running marathons to not being able to make it out of bed for very long, as my legs were too weak and would give out on me unexpectedly. I couldn’t sleep, my body shook with tremors, my heart began to beat irregularly; I would get episodes of air hunger, the stiff neck and headache made it so I couldn’t turn my head at all, nor lay on my side, the sudden fever that would come and go, and the numbness in my right arm and burning feet perplexed all. Well, almost all. The symptoms didn’t match any one illness or disease, but the functional medicine doctor that was recommended to me reassured me that he would find the root causes. And that he did! I was testing for MS, ALS, Hashimotos, and Lupus as I had high autoimmune markers. But, this doctor kept searching for the driving cause as he said, people don’t go from healthy individuals to bedridden overnight. A pathogen or pathogens are involved. After months of testing and waiting for results, it came back positive for Lyme and a multitude of co-infections. It didn’t stop there. We tested our living environment and found black mold, looked deeply at my diet, heavy metals, gut health, and what else I could detox to give my body the best fighting chance to overcome all these issues. This is where the breast implants I had gotten in college came up. The impact that foreign bodies like this have on the immune system is extreme. The body must constantly fight to keep you safe from them, leaving only drops of energy and ability to fight off other serious illness. This is where I learned about Breast Implant Illness (BII) and the hundreds of thousands of women across the globe that it affected. There was no question--I would have them removed to give myself the best possible outcome. Appearance is nothing if your quality of life is not what you want it to be. This turned out to be the best decision and later, after treatments and many specialists, led to my remission and getting my life back fully! 

How do you see yourself today? Has it changed from when you were younger?

I see myself today as a strong woman. I am proud of who I am! Going through struggles allows you to really learn about yourself. It is amazing to find out how interesting you really are. I like me!!! I know my body inside and out. I know how to make it run the most efficiently and healthy way. My body does a lot for me. I must honor it as it works hard every day. I only get this one body to live in and I love it!  Every single day is a privilege not all get to have.  

If you could, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Above all, value yourself. We all have struggled and gained wisdom from these struggles. Experience is part of life.

What mantra/quote/word do you try to live by that has helped you on your journey?

The quote that got me through the hardest times and I have on my wall to remind me is, “The Best way out is always Through”- Robert Frost.