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I am a wife and proud mother of two daughters. When I retired from teaching elementary general and vocal music, my husband and I decided to invest in a few more rental properties for me to manage. My husband and I sing in our church choir and I am active in the Lancaster Opera Company.

In November of 1998, back pain caused me to see my family doctor. A couple of months of chiropractic treatments did not relieve the pain. My family physician took a SED (sedimentation) rate and made the initial diagnosis of myeloma. I saw an oncologist and he confirmed the diagnosis. I was 53.

Our family was shocked and scared. At first I thought it was a definite death sentence. Everyone I had known who had cancer had died from it. Now I think of my disease more like a chronic illness. I can live with it and still have a full, enjoyable life.

In June of 1999, I received my first treatment of chemotherapy (alkeran and prednisone) and Aredia. I became so weak that I had to hold onto furniture to walk around the house. Because of that experience I chose to try several alternative treatments, but they did not stop my myeloma from progressing to Stage III.

In March of 2000, I decided to go back on chemotherapy, but this time without the steroid. I tolerated the alkeran and Aredia very well, and by October my condition had improved 75%! In February of 2001, my oncologist stopped the chemotherapy and started me on thalidomide. My test results continue to show improvement. In May of 2001, I celebrated my 56th birthday.

After my diagnosis, I spoke with a friend, retired homeopathic osteopath Dr. Luelle Hamilton, about the extreme back pain I was experiencing. She put me on a diet to turn the acidity of my body to alkalinity, because an alkaline body experiences less pain. Even when I was not using Aredia (June 1999 - March 2000), this diet helped me manage my back pain. I did not need to use pain pills.

These foods make the body acidic. I have eliminated them from my diet:

? Dairy products ? Mushrooms
? White potatoes ? Pineapple
? Tomatoes ? Eggplant
? Red meats ? Plums
? White rice ? Prunes
? Pasta ? Wheat
? Oranges ? Limes
? All dry legumes
? Carbonated beverages
? Black & Cayenne pepper
? Peanuts or peanut butter
? Berries (except blueberries)
? Red, Yellow or Green bell peppers
? Vinegar, Pickles & Sauerkraut
? Processed foods & chemical preservatives
? Sugar, Aspartame & Saccharin

These foods help my body be alkaline:

? Soft cooked eggs
? Juice of one lemon in 6-8 oz. of water
? Fresh fruit such as tart apples and tropicals such as papaya, mango, tangelos, tangerines, clementines, and grapefruit (but no oranges!). Pears, grapes, and stone fruits are bland and combine well with peaches, apricots, and cherries.
? Most vegetables are alkaline. Dark salad greens, raw spinach, and kale have more nutrients than iceberg lettuce.
? Nuts such as pecans, almonds, and cashews are good protein. Wash and blanche or roast them to remove mold.
? White chicken, white turkey, white fish.

Do not combine:

? Citrus and bananas

? Citrus and any cereal
? Starch and protein at the same meal

Make positive lifestyle choices:

? Do not allow your activities to tire you. Rest for 10 minutes for every hour of activity. An afternoon nap is a must to avoid fatigue. A fatigued body is more likely to become acidic and painful.

For two years, this program has helped me be pain free, vigorous, and cheerful. No two people are alike, but I wanted to share my experience with others looking for ways beyond pain medication to manage their suffering. The improvement in the quality of my life has definitely been worth the lifestyle change and effort. There is hope.