The Ripple Effect - Jan Street’s Story

Summer 2015/16, Living Well Magazine

My journey towards a healthier life began when my father Charlie was diagnosed with Lymphoma in May 2013. Following his diagnosis I wanted to do everything I could to help him fight this horrible disease.

My cousin had mentioned a friend had attended The Gawler Cancer Foundation and it had made a huge positive impact on her health, so my partner Mark and I looked into it and decided to attend the Eat Well : Live Well Retreat in September that same year, hoping to learn how to prepare cancer-fighting foods to help Dad.  Little did we know what a life changing experience it would be for us!

Returning home we were so excited about implementing everything we had learnt into our lives.  Unexpectedly we both lost a lot of weight and started to feel amazing… we were different, and people wanted to know what we were doing.

During the retreat, I purchased Forks Over Knives for my dad, and after reading it he too immediately adopted a plant-based wholefoods diet, and has since been able to come off his blood pressure tablets, cholesterol medication, and reduce his diabetes insulin from 4 to 1 injection per day.  Furthermore there has been no progression of his Lymphoma, so he has been able to avoid treatment so far. At 78 years of age he rides his pushbike 100kms a week and plays golf nearly every afternoon. He is amazing!

I am so blessed that I have such a close relationship with my Dad, he’s been such an inspiration to me.  After losing my brother in an accident, it was dad that said “we just have to face it and learn to deal with it the best way we can”, and it was tough, then very sadly Mark and I lost our newborn and had to relive the pain all over again. It was such a rough couple of years for us… it’s so easy to let grief take over your life when you lose people that you love, you have to learn to live your life in a completely different direction. But it is important to force yourself to move forward.

Seeing the positive effects the retreat had made on my own family, I felt so compelled to share this knowledge with others… so I organised a local group of people to visit the foundation and experience a day program with Maia Bedson in February the following year.

One of the attendees at that day-program has a hereditary heart condition and since his father had passed away at the same age, he had visited his specialist two days before the day program for a checkup.  Even though he is fit and appeared healthy, the results showed a blockage and only 25% blood flow to his heart.  Plans were put into place for them to insert a stint into the blockage, but after attending the day-program he decided to try diet first… the specialists were amazed that after 3 months there was no sign of any blockage, and his chronic migraines and regular asthma attacks had also ceased.

That’s the thing – you just don’t realise! Even I thought I was doing all the right things for myself and my family with the way that we were living, it wasn’t until we learned the science behind plant-based nutrition that we realised there were other options for a healthier way of living.

I too have experienced tangible results. Since changing our diet two and a half years ago, I have 6 monthly blood tests to keep record of my blood levels.  All my life my doctor has told me that I am low in calcium, and has urged me to take supplements, but as I have always felt ‘well enough’ I wasn’t fussed.  Now for the first time in my life – even though I have no dairy in my diet – my calcium levels have gone up to normal levels!

And it’s not just the diet, although that’s a huge part of it, but I also feel different in my mindset, I am more mindful of my stress levels, my breathing and my need to relax.

The thing is, it’s a common story for people to get sick before they reevaluate what they are doing, which is unfortunate… that’s exactly what happened in our situation, it took my Dad’s cancer for me to open my mind, and I feel so passionate now about letting people know that there are options available for them to live healthier, fuller lives.

If there’s one good thing that could come out of Dad’s cancer, it’s the journey that it has taken us on, and the people we have met along the way… I have met some of the most beautiful, warm-hearted people with amazing stories through The Gawler Cancer Foundation, vegan cooking classes and seminars. And this is what inspired me to organise the Latrobe Valley Health and Wellbeing Expo in November this year.

I feel passionate to inspire people to be more pro-active about their own health and wellbeing as I don’t think it is promoted enough.  People get sick and they go to the doctor and they get a pill to fix the symptoms, when there is plenty that they can do for themselves. 

Our community has had a couple of struggles recently, including the fire in the ‘open cut’ last year, so I knew in my heart that this would be a good thing for Latrobe Valley, I’m supporting local businesses and creating awareness… and I thought if I can change one person’s life for the better, it will be worth it all.

I have received some beautiful emails and positive feedback from people that attended the expo, expressing their new-found motivation, and that’s the exact reason I wanted to do this.  I really love this work.

It’s been an incredible journey so far, and I’m excited about where it’s heading.

Expressions of interest for the next Latrobe Valley Expo are welcome by email to janicecstreet@gmail.com