How One Woman Conquered Thyroid Cancer and Found Her Passion
Kimberly N. Alleyne
The Harvest Magazine, Publisher and Editor
#Harvest on Health | Thyroid Awareness Month Feature
January is a popular month for people to flood gyms in honor of their New Year resolutions to lose weight, and drop holiday pounds. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle — eating and exercise habits — is the most reliable strategy for reaching or maintaining weight goals; but there’s another factor, too: the thyroid gland.
The thyroid, an endocrine gland that secretes hormones, is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck located in the lower neck slightly above the collarbone, and beneath the larynx (voice box). Thyroid health affects metabolism: how quickly you burn calories, or how quickly you lose or gain weight. It also controls the speed of your heart beat. Despite being such a small organ, if the thyroid is not working properly, it can wield havoc on one’s health; and in extreme cases, a diseased thyroid can upend a person’s life.
Thyroid disease, according to Mount Sinai Health System, affects approximately 200 million people across the world. An estimated 30 million people in America have a thyroid disorder; about half of them don’t know it. Undiagnosed or untreated thyroid disease can cause depression, tremors, muscle weakness and constant fatigue. Thyroid diseases include goiter, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, thyroiditis, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some 200,000 cases of thyroid cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. Dr. Ruby Lathon found herself among those numbers in January 2007 when an attentive doctor noticed that her thyroid was swollen during a routine physical.
“The previous year, my doctor checked my thyroid during my annual physical, and commented that it was large. She did an ultrasound, but nothing abnormal showed up. Three or four years later during another regular check-up, she wanted to check my thyroid again because she said it felt larger. We did another ultrasound to compare the two, and the endocrinologist said the thyroid was larger and also noticed new nodules that had not been present on the first ultrasound. They did a biopsy on the nodules and that’s how they found it [the thyroid cancer],” Lathon said.
The American Thyroid Association states that while thyroid cancer is a rare cancer, diagnoses of the disease (in men and women) are increasing at a steady rate. And, according to WebMD, thyroid cancer can cause several possible symptoms:
- A lump or swelling in your neck. This is the most common symptom.
- Pain in your neck and sometimes in your ears.
- Trouble swallowing.
- Trouble breathing or have constant wheezing.
- Hoarse voice.
- A frequent cough that is not related to a cold.
Dr. Lathon had none of these symptoms, which contributed to the jolt of the news. “I was shocked..I was totally not expecting that, she said. “My first thought was to find out what my options were. When I talked with the endocrinologist, I was told that my only option was surgery to remove my thyroid and I didn’t want to do that. That sounded extreme to me and I thought that there had to be other options.”
It concerned Lathon that the doctor had already made a decision about her treatment without discussing alternatives, and, she said, “I did not want to be another cog on the cancer wheel.”
From there, Lathon started researching alternative treatment options. During her research on natural, alternative approaches to cure cancer and heal the thyroid, she learned about plant-based diets.
“A lot of the research I found showed that plant-based diets can reverse several conditions including cancer,” Lathon said. “So I decided to switch to a plant-based diet and use supplements to build my immune system.”
[su_highlight]A PLANT-BASED DIET EXCLUDES ALL ANIMAL PRODUCTS[/su_highlight]
Lathon continued to do research, and also sought the expertise of naturopathic doctors to learn how the body works and how it heals. She was an actively engaged patient, and persisted with nutrition, supplements, stress reduction, prayer and meditation. Her diligence was rewarded — in a little more than one year she was healed of the cancer. First, the tumor status reversed to benign, and then it dissolved altogether. She had a wellness party to celebrate; and she continues to enjoy remission.
[su_highlight]SEE DR. RUBY LATHON’S GUIDELINES FOR KEEPING A HEALTHY THYROID[/su_highlight]
Speaking on how she relied on her faith during her journey to healing, Lathon said, “When I was diagnosed, I was very much a devout believer, and a student of the Bible. I knew that God does not give us more than we can bear.”
“The first part of the process was letting go of the fear of death, and that this might not work. I prayed and had a sense that it was going to be okay… that it happened for a reason. In fact, one day my brother called and confirmed my thoughts. He said, ‘You’re going to be okay. I don’t know why this happened, but it happened for a reason. We don’t know the reason yet, but it happened for a reason,’ ”
“I had peace because of my faith but it [a cancer diagnosis] can be nerve-wracking, frustrating, scary….I asked the elders at the church to anoint me with oil and pray for me, and that gave me peace. Many people were praying for me.”
In addition to prayer, Lathon says that she practiced meditation, and she also visualized cancer leaving her body.
“It’s very important not to have a spirit of worry.”
Ultimately she chose plant-based medicine instead of traditional medicine, and became diligent about using food as medicine.
[su_note]MORE ABOUT THYROID DISORDERS
Click here to read more about thyroid cancer. http://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-cancer/
Click here to read more about hyperthyroidism. http://www.thyroid.org/hyperthyroidism/
Click here to read more about hypothyroidism. http://www.thyroid.org/hypothyroidism/ [/su_note]
NEW PATH, NEW PURPOSE
Dr. Lathon’s cancer diagnosis and the approach she took to healing prompted her to embrace a lifestyle change, and a new career path followed suit. She continued a vegan diet, eating a plant-based diet with no meat or animal products. And she also left a successful career in the defense industry. When she first decided to share all of the information she had learned as a holistic health coach, her family and friends balked.
She formed Roadmap to Holistic Health 2010.
One might think that having an undergraduate degree in computer science, and a doctorate in industrial and systems engineering is not relevant, but the former engineer said her years of schooling continue to inform her work as a coach, and that “Education is never wasted.”
LOVING THE LEAP OF FAITH
Dr. Lathon did not imagine the unexpected course her life took. Touting the philosophy that food is medicine, she uses her journey and testimony to empower others to be active participants in their health.
Roadmap to Holistic Health offers a host of services including one-on-one nutritional coaching, cooking classes, menu plans, seminars and workshops and conferences, a free weekly wellness call, and therapeutic nutrition plans for people who are trying to recover from illnesses. She also hosts “The Veggie Test,” a cooking show she started to help my clients see how to cook healthy meals.
“I definitely took a leap of faith. But it’s okay to take a leap of faith, and to walk away from a big career. I love what I do! And I am a much better holistic health coach than I was an engineer…now instead of indirectly taking lives, I am helping to save lives,” Lathon shared.
LEARN TO MAKE STUFFED PEPPERS WITH WALNUT MUSHROOM STUFFING
MORE ABOUT DR. RUBY LATHON
Roadmap to Holistic Health with Dr. Ruby
*Visit Dr. Ruby on Facebook to learn more about the Second Annual “Sexy Is Healthy Valentine’s Day Party”
What leaps of faith have you taken? Have you tried a plant-based diet? Have you used an eating lifestyle to overcome a health condition? Share your story with us. Leave a comment or send us a note on Facebook or Twitter.