While we love sharing tips on health, like ideas to tweak your diet, supplements and lifestyle… one of our core missions is to share powerful, real life success stories with you that inspire hope…
The kind of stories you read when you’re ready to give up…
The kind of stories that help you keep going, if only for just one more day.
And today, we’ve got one that I can’t wait to share with you!
This story was previously published in a magazine, so we weren’t sure if we’d be able to share it. Thankfully, after a few emails, Colleen Pierre, the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Saratoga Mama, graciously agreed to let us re-publish Haley’s story. (You rock Colleen!!!)
Haley’s story will inspire you with her will to survive and will to fight. Her unwavering determination to beat Crohn’s is one of the most powerful I’ve ever seen.
Not only that, but her talents are giving her a platform to let others know that they have options other than dangerous medications. I can’t express how grateful we are for Haley and her family…
Thank you for being willing to step up and spread awareness about the healing power of eating real food.
Without further ado, here is Haley’s story…
Haley’s Hope for Healing: How One Girl Battled Crohn’s Disease and Won
[Original Story Written by Jan Snedaker]
Haley Diane Curtiss is a beautiful, healthy teenage girl who runs track, hangs out with her friends on the weekends, and competes in (and wins!) beauty pageants. One would never know that just three years ago this spirited, confident girl was hospitalized due to paralysis caused by medication, with an uncertain future.
At Age 11, Haley Was Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease…
A chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Haley’s symptoms began years earlier with complaints of frequent stomach aches, vision problems, and around third grade her hair and feet stopped growing. In addition to this she had noticeable dark circles under her eyes for seemingly no reason. The doctors shrugged it off believing Haley had allergies, while her parents believed she had a nervous stomach and at times was trying to avoid school; no one could have imagined these symptoms were the early signs of a chronic disease. It was not until Haley entered sixth grade and her condition worsened due to the social stressors that often arise once children enter middle school.
Oftentimes, people associate Crohn’s disease with an urgency and frequency of going to the bathroom, but constipation is a symptom as well. Haley experienced extreme pain due to a growing sore at the end of her colon which resulted in her being constipated. She was put on medication to help relieve the condition but her problem continued to grow worse, resulting in her missing several weeks of school at a time and living in excruciating pain. Finally, Haley’s mother, Alayne, insisted the doctors do more testing to get to the bottom of what was causing her daughter’s agony. Testing for Crohn’s is not difficult and the results are known quickly. The day Haley was tested for Crohn’s disease they had their answer before she had woken up from the anesthesia. The doctors knew with absolute certainty Crohn’s disease is what had been causing Haley’s health problems. While Haley says she feels lucky to have been diagnosed so quickly, Alayne regrets not picking up on the earlier warning signs. She wants parents to know children and teenagers are the fastest growing population being diagnosed with this chronic disease. Alayne says, “Be aware of all the symptoms and ask your doctor about testing for Crohn’s if your child experiences any of these symptoms. Do not think it cannot happen to a young child because it can.”
Unfortunately, Haley’s Diagnosis Was Not the End of Her Suffering
Alayne explains at the time of her daughter’s diagnosis the theory was to hit kids hard with medication in hopes of forcing the disease into remission. For Haley, this theory ended up causing complete paralysis of her body and landing her in the hospital. Doctors struggled to figure out what had happened and offer a solution, leaving Haley and her family completely helpless, with no answers as to how long her paralysis would last or if she would ever regain mobility. Finally, after five long days of uncertainty and fear, on her brother’s birthday, Haley stood up and said she wanted to go home. Haley’s family, obviously overjoyed with relief of their daughter’s recovery from her reaction to the medication, knew they would have to find an alternative to the traditional medicine used to treat Crohn’s disease.
After doing extensive research Alayne discovered the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), originally developed by Sidney V. Haas in the 1920s. In the early 1990s, Elaine Gottschall brought about the reemergence of this diet in her book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet. SCD is a very strict low carbohydrate, gluten-free diet believed to reduce and possibly eliminate symptoms associated with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. For the first time since Haley’s diagnosis, Alayne felt positive and hopeful about a treatment. When speaking with a doctor about the possibility of this diet being the right choice for her daughter she was met with negativity as he told her she would never cure her daughter, especially without the recommended medication. At a moment when most parents would have felt defeated, Alayne felt more determined than ever to prove the doctors wrong. Seeing her daughter paralyzed in a hospital bed, watching her husband cry for the first time, and feeling so completely helpless kept Alayne from going back down the traditional medicinal path again.
Haley Stuck with the Restrictions of Her Diet For Two Years
It was not easy, and the results were not immediate. According to Gottschall, one must stick strictly to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for two years before obtaining the desired results of being symptom-free. In the beginning, Alayne admits they made some mistakes. It is not an easy diet to follow and eventually she reached out to a woman who had been on the diet successfully for 11 years. This woman ended up living within two miles of the Curtiss’s and has been a huge support to Haley and her family. Alayne, also found the website SCDLifestyle.com. “We still to this day refer to the Quick Start Guide and refer it to other IBD victims who want information on how to get started with the diet. The Biggest Mistakes at the Grocery Store web article was a life changer for us as well, we began to see great changes after following the advice in that article,” says Alayne.
During those two years, Haley still suffered from extreme pain, was unable to attend regular school, and was often laid up on the couch, too sick to do anything else. When asked how she did not give up during those years Haley responded, “It was my family. I knew I did not have an option, we were going to fix this and I was going to get better.” Unable to tolerate the medicine used to reduce her pain, Haley found some relief by soaking in hot baths and surrounding herself with animals. Her cat would lie with her when she was not feeling well and her Chihuahua helped ease her discomfort.
Haley Became Symptom-Free…
After two and half years of being on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, against all odds and the belief of her doctors. It took a long time but Haley and her family committed themselves to see her overcome this disease. She is now back in public school, growing again, and living the life of a perfectly normal teenager. After losing so much time she has taken back her life, living symptom-free for a year now. She has even been able to expand her diet combining some of the Paleo foods with the SCD, including chocolate, something Haley is very happy about. And while Haley does take a very low-dose chemo drug (Trexall, the generic version of methotrexate, the original makes her violently ill) once per week, it is getting the diet right we believe is the largest role in sending her into remission. In fact, if she remains symptom-free for another year her doctors have agreed to take her off all medication. We know many other children who refuse to follow the diet who are still struggling with their disease even though they take medications.
Haley began participating in beauty pageants again as a way to share her story with the public. She wants people to know there is help for this debilitating disease and encourages people to try alternative methods. Haley and Alayne have met many people, along their journey, suffering from Crohn’s disease. Many of these people are on medication instead of a restrictive diet and they are not seeing results as positive as Haley. Doctors have seen people become symptom-free by using the SCD but they still push medication over this option. It did take at least two years to work but after seeing her daughter in a paralyzed state, Alayne has resolved to stick with the restrictive diet approach. Haley is extremely thankful she did and encourages others to do the same. If you have a choice between a life on medication or a life of healthier eating that also allows you to live symptom-free, it seems the latter would be the best choice, especially for children. Haley says, “It never hurts to try something, do not be scared because this diet does work.” Haley is living proof of this – happy, normal, healthy, teenage living proof!
To read more about Haley’s journey through life with Crohn’s disease visit her blog at:
A very special thank you goes out to Colleen for allowing us to re-publish Jan’s story on Haley.
And I’d really like to thank Haley’s mom, Alayne, for reaching out to us and providing us with everything we needed to put this together for everyone.
Sharing these stories really means a lot to us and we hope that Haley’s courage and strength can inspire others to follow in her footsteps… and more importantly, to NEVER… EVER… GIVE UP.
If you need more help creating your customer version of the SCD Diet, please check out our eBook here.