No Longer Terminally Ill

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Hi Mark,

I’ve had serious kidney disease all my life, although I was not diagnosed until I was 26 years old. My kidneys never grew properly due to reflux nephropathy and I developed another disease inside the kidney (FSGS) which was diagnosed as terminal in 2011. Along the way I had developed thyroid issues, Type II diabetes, and asthma. I was on medication to reduce high blood pressure as this is very dangerous for kidney patients, and I had also started statins to reduce cholesterol and as a common preventative drug for renal patients! The side effects of all these medications were getting very hard to live with! I felt like I rattled (filled with tablets) if I moved and this was distressing. I used to be a sailing instructor at an outdoor pursuits centre. I was used to being fit and active, and now a 2km walk was a real struggle.

Living with kidney disease was all I had known, but as I got older the pain and the severe infections had me hospitalised about once a month or more often, and alongside a preventative antibiotic, I was also receiving massive doses of strong ABs intravenously at least ten times a year. I didn’t feel that good, to be honest. And I was large: 125 kgs (275 lbs).

Marg - Before

At 46 I had my left kidney out as it was seen as causing these horrific infections. The operation went badly with the surgeon starting off keyhole, missing my stunted, mal-formed kidney and trying to remove my pancreas, meanwhile cutting an artery to my spleen and having to cut a 40 cm cut to get it all fixed. I had nine blood transfusions in the first three days after surgery. I was in hospital for a month and initially it was unsure if I would survive.

When I returned home it took about a year to recover, although I didn’t have as many infections. That was 2010. By 2011 I received news that my right kidney was dying and to go home and make a bucket list. Fortunately my family and I are fairly content and having been fairly adventurous most of our lives had only a few “big” things left that could be done giving my failing health. One of those was a trip to the US to see family and friends (including Mickey Mouse) and a rail trip from Omaha to San Francisco. We had a great time that summer (for us) of 2011/12.

In mid 2013 I was progressively worse (as expected) and diagnosed with liver disease also. IT WAS THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO ME. I REFUSED to live with liver disease. On top of everything else it was too much!

I got busy. First I cut the statins against medical advice and that took care of all the rashes, severe dandruff and eczema I had developed. I started eating a grapefruit a day and that took my cholesterol down enough for my doctor to be very happy.

Next I cut out wheat – that took care of the diarrhoea and to some extent the night sweats. I lost a bit of weight, which was a nice bonus.

Finally I cut out all processed food – I called it going clean… but then I found your website and I got serious. Since August 2, 2013, we have been Primal and by October 10 my kidney doctor was so excited that I was more and more well that he said he couldn’t see dialysis being necessary in the next two years, maybe ever… in fact he thought I might live to be old! He cut my BP medication half, cut out my kidney meds and stated that I no longer was diabetic and cut out that med too. Yehaa!

The liver disease took a little longer to clear – I was expecting six more weeks but by November 14 it too was gone and all the results were in the normal stage. Dead smack bang normal! It was such a delight. Since the beginning I have lost a total of 35 kgs (77 lbs) and am back to walking/running 4+ hours a week, lifting heavy things (my body) 4×10 minutes a week and sprinting once a week for 10 minutes. I exercise when I feel like it. 🙂 I eat what I want – I just make sure I want good, basic, Primal food.

Over the years I have had a lot of people praying for me and I can say that God has been very good to me. The biggest result has been the attitude of my family. My husband is so excited that I am not only no longer terminally ill but fit and active again, which is nice, but OUR KIDS have really changed. They used to “look after” me and now I am enjoying looking after them. I knew things had really changed when my teenage daughter said, “Now, Mum, not only will you be here to make my wedding dress, but you can meet my children.”

Marg - After


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149 thoughts on “No Longer Terminally Ill”

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  1. oh yeah, THAT is a tear-jerker!! Congratulations! Amazing… and tell your daughter to have lots of kids — so you stick around a long long time! {wink}

  2. All I can say is wow. This is just an amazing story. Miraculous, really.

  3. You look lovely – and so happy! I’m glad that everything has worked so well for you – keep up the good work 🙂

  4. Just cried. That happened. So happy for you and your family! :’D

  5. Awesome story. Sometimes when people question the methods of their doctors, good things happen.

  6. Your doctor said terminal and your completely turned it around. Truly amazing!!!

  7. Fantastic story! I admire that you took responsibility for your own health. Now I need to find a tissue. You look beautiful, keep up the great work.

  8. Thanks for sharing! I really needed this kind of boost this week.

  9. What an inspiring story! You make me feel as tho there actually is hope for me. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Oh Helen – there’s always hope! You can make small changes that add up… (but I know how you feel when it all looks a little hopeless.) 🙂

  10. Wow. Wow.Wow. Go you!!! Way to take your life/health in your own hands & make a change! Truly inspiring 🙂

  11. Congratulations Marg! That is the most inspirational friday success story ever!

  12. Add me to the list of fellow Grokkers who shed tears. You are inspiring and I’m so happy for your family that they get to keep you!

  13. Tears are rolling downmy face. Well done . This is probably the most inspiring story on MDA. Love it , Love Friday success stories.

  14. This is what it is all about! Taking charge of your own vitality and future! Thank you for sharing this story with us and congratulations on your new life! These stories should be in the waiting room of every single doctor’s office.

  15. Trying not to cry here at work…great job Marg. I love it! God is good!

    I’m glad he led you to the PB lifestyle!

  16. Wow Marg. That’s a success story! Thank you for sharing it here. Amazing.

  17. Wow, more tears shed here, too! Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story. Congrats and keep it up!

  18. Marg, do your doctors understand what is responsible for your success? They often tell us to take their medications and lose weight and don’t begin to know how impossible that is when you’re eating the wrong food.

    1. Went to the doctor for a check up yesterday for the first time in a long while, only because he was a paleo doc! Someone who actually gets it. Its funny, he said the medicine for a majority of the things patients have issues with is diet. You have a headache, paleo, you have heartburn, paleo. Awesome to see real life success to real health problems.

  19. Tears here as well. Wow, that an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing. I loved the line that you had always been an adventurous family and had only a few big items left on the bucket list. Sounds like you now have many more wonderful adventures ahead of you 🙂 So, so happy for you and your family!

  20. I got a little misty as well! What a fabulous positive story and example. Food as medicine! Grok on!!

  21. You are one hell of a fighter, Marg. Nothing can stop you. Congrats!

  22. I am finishing my last year of medical school; and this is truly inspiring and fascinating! You are a shining example for the mainstream medical community as to how impactive lifestyle changes can be. You are correct — FSGS, DM, and other causes of chronic kidney disease are deemed ‘incurable’. I would make sure your clinicians are well-informed of the specific changes you made, even if they initially scoff at you. I admire your courage. You look great, BTW!

    1. Thanks so much! My renal physician told me that this was the new wisdom and most nutritionists are still in the old, when it comes to food. He was so excited for me. I still have to be really careful about staying free from infection, but yes, life is good! Bring hope to your patients – I’m so glad that you have this primal-food information at the start of your career. Enjoy!

  23. Congratulations Marg. Great great story. Salute to ya for pushing through when many others would have caved.

  24. Wow. I’m so happy for you! I hope that soooo many people see this and that they make the changes that can save their lives!

  25. Another crier here! What an amazing story! I’m so happy for you and your family. Congratulations on regaining your health, what a blessing!

  26. wow, amazing! tears came to my eyes, too, at how you made changes and changed your health, and can look after your family! and meet your daughter’s children.

  27. Marg – this may be the most amazing success story I’ve ever read here! I’m so happy for you and that you’re feeling well and healthy! What a feeling that must be after so many years of I’ll health and suffering! Congratulations to you – you’re truly an inspiration! 🙂

  28. praise The Lord Jesus! This Is fantastic! I’m So happy For You! Pardon My Phone, It Won’t Randomly Stop Capitalizing Most Things. 😛

  29. OMG Marg – a truly inspirational and moving story, thank you for sharing. If anyone has doubts about what this lifestyle can achieve, that story should hit the spot!

  30. Marg– So glad you give God the glory. He led you to MDA and Primal, but when you think of it, God also gave us the natural things in this world for our subsistence and health and when people like Mark Sisson and others are given the insight and the forum to encourage us and inspire us many will benefit.

    The things you have endured you did not endure alone! Blessing to you and your family and to the One who knew your story would motivate so many others!

  31. God? Mark Sissons (and a bunch of other people) brought this info to you, and you had to put it into action. God could have just healed you instantly but didn’t. Don’t be silly.

    1. Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, “God has no hands but these.”

    2. Silly?
      It’s fine if you have such a narrow view of God that you cannot comprehend all of the ways he might work.
      It’s not fine to belittle someone’s beliefs.

    3. You know God let me go to hospital so many times, so that I know how others feel. I am happy with the journey. I think I might have been a little arrogant had it been instantaneous.

  32. What an inspiration! It’s about more than getting in shape–it’s about being healthy, whole and happy–congratulations Marg!

  33. Can I print this and just put copies all over the hospital where I work?

    1. Fine by me – check with Mark though please.
      It’s all true.

  34. This is such an eye opening story when you think about how the majority of people are just like Marg. Being put on medication after medication to treat ailments caused by the original medications which was the result of poisonous foods.

    Best of luck Marg and great job.

  35. Wow, so inspiring! Put tears in my eyes. Congrats and all the best!

  36. Truly, truly beautiful… Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story.

  37. I’d like to say something different, insightful, inspirational but everything would pale to your remarkable story, attitude, perseverance and faith. Thank you. Thank you.

  38. Marg – what a truly inspirational story – your daughter’s comment at the end brought tears to my eyes, a smile to my face and joy in my heart! (My daughter got married this past fall, so I know how important it is to be there for your daughter.)

    It’s stories like yours that inspired me to make a complete change of career at 50 years old and become a Nutritional Therapist. Your story will be one that I will share with my fellow classmates and my future clients!!

  39. I have never commented on a Friday success story before, but this is just the best. Big congratulations!

    And to echo a couple of other comments: if you haven’t already, please tell your doctors the changes you made that led to your recovery — maybe it will open some minds and ultimately help others.

  40. Marg – that is quite the story! I’m so impressed with how you took charge and kicked a terminal disease out of your life! Way to exemplify a healthy lifestyle and acknowledge your blessings! Thanks so much for sharing this inspiring story.

  41. Marg, you look amazing! Way to take your health back into your own hands. Thank you for this inspiring story!

  42. Yep, brought tears to my eyes, congratulations! I see a long, healthy road ahead of you! You can be so proud!

  43. Congratulations Marg!!! Truly tremendous work. You are an inspiration to us all.

  44. Wow. This is one of the more amazing transformations. I am glad that you are getting healthy, This is freakin’ awesome!!!

  45. Oh, how truly wonderful! Your faith brought you to the right people! And I’m guessing Mark Sisson has one heck of a lot of Brownie points and Gold Stars in his guardian angel’s notebook!

  46. Way to go, Marg! My hubby’s kidneys failed nearly 30 yrs ago and he’s done dialysis for over 25 yrs (plus a couple of failed transplants). He eats primal for the most part and we do home hemodialysis daily with the NxStage machine so he feels pretty well and leads a more normal life. Good for you that you took charge of your health and life! We try to do the same even though my husband is totally machine dependent. God bless you!

    1. Oh my heart goes out to you… that is a big deal. I’m so glad that you are eating right! 🙂 I imagine he feels SO MUCH BETTER!

  47. This wonderful story just illustrates the foibles of “medicine” as it is practiced today.
    I do believe most people would be better off just going primal and giving up doctors ….except for skinned knees and broken bones. Seriously.

    Way to go Marg. You are a wonderful inspiration.

    1. Please don’t disrespect the entire medical profession on my behalf! I am very grateful to the doctors and nurses who have kept me alive thus far and especially those who were able to perform surgery on my daughter at 3 months old so that she didn’t grow up with this inherited problem.
      Thank you for your encouragement. I actually feel on top of the world today (even though I live at the bottom of it!)

      1. Oh Marg, I don’t disrespect the entire medical profession. Really I don’t. I just get frustrated sometimes. Our dedicated professionals seem to work miracles sometimes. It is just that here in the US we see so many unnecessary drugs prescribed and unnecessary procedures ordered in the name of profit and not healing. Just as junk food and processed food is marketed to the public, so are drugs and procedures. My remarks came from feeling the pain of what you have gone through and relating to many others who have told their stories here about prescriptions for chemicals instead of health. I think you are amazing and I can’t tell you how happy I am for you.

        1. I share your frustration – I find myself wanting to tell everyone that there is hope, not just pills. One story at a time. One day at a time.
          Thanks for your happiness.

  48. Just amazing. Definitely brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for sharing your story, and may you “live to be old” and enjoy all your grandkids!

  49. What an inspirational story. Wonderful! I have shared this link, your story with a group of people I know. I know they will be inspired too.

  50. Marg – an amazing and inspiring story! So happy for you and especially happy you will now be able to stick around for your family. 🙂 Well done!

  51. awesome. on the verge of death and now perfectly healthy all because of diet. And great to see god being glorified through it as well!

    1. Not quite perfectly healthy, but I can live with the half-a-kidney I still have. God has been very good to me, it’s true.

  52. WOW what a turnaround. I will certainly be sharing your story with the doubters. Did you do much calorie counting to lose the weight?

    1. NO NONE I was actually so sick for most of it that breathing was a conscious exercise! Seriously. I don’t believe calorie counting works but I know the weight fell off when I got the input correct.
      Truly – it was not about losing the weight, but that was a nice bonus. It was about kicking the liver into working properly. Pretty motivating reason to adhere to healthy food and drink choices. All the rest was such a surprise!

  53. Awesome story of not only turning the corner but storming your way back to a healthier life in such short time too. Congratulations

  54. WooHoo Marg! Good for you. I’m inspired to take control of my own health too. Hope you live to see lots of grand kids and maybe even great grand kids as well.

  55. What a wonderful story to start the weekend with! So thrilled for you and your family– and beautiful smile 🙂

  56. Beautiful story! It is always wonderful to hear of people able to triumph over medical issues with a non-medical, natural approach. It sounds like you have come back from the brink and the future looks bright! Congrats!! Nice job!!!!!

  57. What an amazing story. You’re truly touched me with your story. You’ve made me realize just how much our lives truly are in our own hands; and no matter where we are in terms of health, we can take control and reverse these life threatening diseases just by nourishing our body properly. Blessings!

  58. YOU GO!!!!!!!!
    as an RN I can not say enough about how wonderful it is to see you take charge and feel better….

  59. I LOVE reading a story like this, about someone near my own age, who has reversed many years of poor health! It is so inspiration and thrilling. The human body is incredible in that it clearly can heal if given the right ingredients. Fabulous story – all the best to you wherever you are – Britain, Australia? Thank you very, very much for sharing your story.

  60. Congratulations! What an inspiring story and something that gives hope to even the ‘terminally ill’. 🙂

  61. I got chills and teary-eyed reading that. What a wonderful success story. I’m very happy for you and wish you many healthy, happy years.

  62. Oh wow what a wonderful story. Your beaming smile in the “after” photo is all you need to show just how fabulous you feel.

    My husband has polycystic kidneys diagnosed at age 16. They finally failed 8 years ago when he was 50. After 6 1/2 years of dialysis he had a successful transplant, for which we are truely grateful, and is now is very good health. But life for him has always been a cycle of drugs and restrictions and hospital stays. I always wonder if we could have bought him a little more time dialysis free if we had known all this good information from the start. But we eat really well now (I can’t convince him to go paleo but he eats good mainly unprocessed food with grains included) and he is doing great. And the medical system here in Australia has looked after him the best they know how and I have no complaints – apart from their quite narrow view of diet for the renal patient.

    So I can absolutely say I am in awe of the couragous decision you made to take full control of your health and reverse those seemingly unbeatable odds. Managing failing kidneys is a balancing act of good food, exercise, attitude and staying infection free – and you have nailed it. You go girl!

    1. Thank you – I agree that the health system in Aust and NZ do the best they can. It is a balancing act – I like that description, and I don’t always get it right. But it is certainly more easy without the toxic food overloading the kidney ( I only have one now) and the liver. Thanks for your encouragement and I hope your transplant remains exceptionally viable!

  63. this is hands down one of the most mind blowing recovery stories i’ve ever come across. thanks for sharing.

  64. Ok, well I didn’t cry (ahem) but I considered the sweetness of your daughter’s comment for a minute and had to read on pretty quickly. It is hard to believe the level of destruction from our current way of eating. Really it’s amazing. I am not the paranoid type at all and I kind of think we just ended up here in the most haphazard way. It will take witness like yours to untangle some of this mess. Keep talking.

  65. This has been one of the most inspirational success stories I’ve read on here in a while. Thank you for sharing your story and your story really shows the power of faith and living primal!

  66. wow! best friday success story i have ever read! would love to hear from you again in say 6 months.

  67. Tears of joy for you!!!! What a wonderful blessing for your children! 🙂

  68. Oh my goodness….that bit about being there for your daughter’s wedding and future grandchildren made me weap! I am so glad for you and your family that you found eating paleo literally healed you. This is a wonderful story! Update sometime and let us know how you’re doing! 🙂

  69. Wow, way to go Marg ! Your story is very inspirational. (We have all bonded over the sharing of happy tears.) You look great because you must be feeling so much healthier. Isn’t it amazing that when we are able to make healthier dietary and lifestyle choices in order to improve our health issues, we end up losing weight as an extra bonus, which adds to our feeling of well-being and continues our progress towards optimal health. I do hope that Mark will share updates to your story, as I would love to hear how you are doing as time goes by. I am sure that you will continue to experience good health, and I am sure that your upcoming “after” photos will show even more weight loss. By looking at you, I know that you have found what many of us have found as a result of embracing this primal lifestyle, i.e., a world that we never knew existed, where we can restore our health simply by eating the whole, natural foods we were intended to eat. All the best to you !

  70. Your smile says it all! So pleased for you and so happy others might also have the courage to make changes. 🙂

  71. Marg- This is unbelievable! I am so glad for you! Your story gives me hope! It’s always good to see how eating primal/paleo can help people fight terrible diseases and reduce or eliminate prescription drugs!! God Bless!

  72. I am utterly speechless at your story. I am just so incredibly pleased for you. It still never ceases to amaze me how much the food we eat affects our health. Truly inspirational x

  73. Bit hard to write, with that water in my eyes….. must be the onions. Seriously though, great story and very inspirational. Thank you for sharing it.

  74. Amazing!….especially how quickly your body responded to the changes. Miraculous actually!

  75. Hi Marg, so thrilled to read your story and see you looking do fit and healthy! Megan would be very proud of you. I am too!

    Love Kirsten

  76. Marg, This is my first time to comment to such a great story. you truly are an inspiration to such a long journey. Im wondering on how grapefruit reduced your cholesterol as I have never heard of this or where you still taking the statins at the same time. This with the cholesterol would have trebled the effect of the meds. Thanks-you for submitting this story, hopeefully this will inspire others.

    1. Grapefruit acts on the cytochrome P450 (liver enzyme). You have to be careful with it though as it interacts with LOTS of drugs (which have to be metabolised by the liver).
      Best wishes Marg!

  77. Amazing story. I wish everyone had the chance to read the success stories and learn about this lifestyle so they can decide for themselves… Thank you for sharing!

  78. So happy for you Marg. You are GLOWING now. Take good care of yourself.

  79. Wow, wonderful story, its not just how you look on the outside but how you FEEL on the inside best wishes to you 🙂

  80. Awesome, your story is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  81. I loved the flip, “kids taking care of me” to “taking care of them.” I really appreciate this story.

  82. Gulp…what a swell story! Thank you so much for sharing it! It is wonderful to be in a position to give.

    1. I also have kidney disease (FSGS/nephrotic syndrome, stage 4, rapidly deteriorating) and I would really appreciate if I can ask about your exact diet (daily protein/ketogenic/AIP etc.), and blood/urine result improvements (gfr, creatinine, proteinuria levels etc.). It goes without saying that any information from your side will be regarded as educational material and I definitely won’t change my diet without the prior written consent of my nephrologist and dietitian. My email is: [email protected] Thank you very much!

  83. Amazing story! One of the best primal transitions I have ever seen.

  84. Crying tears of joy for you. I’m so glad learning to take care of yourself made such a difference for you and your family. May God bless you with a long life to enjoy!

  85. Wow! That has got to be *the best* success story I have ever read! Truly amazing and inspiring!!! I have been sitting at work thinking about going and sneaking a candy for the ever-present office candy dish, but after reading that I will stick with my lunch of tri tip and veggies and forgo the chocolate! Wonderful job and thanks for the little boost of willpower that I needed!!!

  86. I wonder if you have any “unsuccesssful” stories to share? That is, stories of paleo diets that just didn’t budge an unhealthy condition. Surely, there are some of these? And perhaps we could learn as much from them as the “successful” ones.

  87. This is the complete embodiment of what Hippocrates was talking about when he said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Amazing story!