Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
July 11, 2021
Have you ever reflected on your life?
Most people have not.
But those who have are usually older – just like me. Or they have recently either gone through a life-changing event or survived a life-threatening event. I’ve gone through and survived both – twice.
If you have lived a full life, you have experienced ups and downs. Everyone has a story to tell. But what is most important is not the abyss into which you have fallen. What is most important is the way you have emerged from the abyss to move forward with your life.
And not just move forward. But also, to have learned a lesson or two with no regrets for the right of passage.
My first life-changing and life-threatening event occurred on a Saturday in 2006. I was 59-years old and had been practicing my specialty of dentistry for 32 years.
On that Saturday morning, my 4-year-old grandson was staying with my wife and me for the weekend. He was sleeping between us in our bed. I woke, turned to my grandson, and attempted to ask him if he wanted to go out for breakfast. But something was wrong.
When I tried to speak, no recognizable words came out of my mouth. My speech was garbled. I panicked.
I first thought I must have been sleeping with my mouth open, and that dried out my mouth.
So, I got out of bed, went to my bathroom, drank a glass of water, and then attempted to ask him again if he wanted to go out for breakfast.
Still, just gabled sounds.
My wife then woke, realized what was happening, and took me to the emergency room. As a registered nurse, she knew I was having a stroke.
Fortunately, my stroke was not severe. Other than the disability to speak for a week or so, I had no other obvious physical issues.
My conventional doctors saved my life. They put me on 7 medications to take for the rest of my life and discharged me after a couple of weeks. It took over a month for my speech to return to normal. I went back to my dental office to see patients fulltime about 2 months after being discharged.
Looking back on my skirt around death, I learned several important lessons which changed my life.
Lessons Learned the First Time
I realized I was not as healthy as I thought. My stroke motivated me to seek out a healthier lifestyle and diet. It took almost 7 years before finally discovering the benefits of a Paleo-type diet and primal lifestyle. Eventually, by the age of 68 in 2012, I was eating and living healthy and was able to wean off of all 7 medications and to lose over 30 pounds of excess fat. Life was great. I had no regrets. I was the new “me”. I even incorporated my new knowledge with the treatment of my periodontal patients in my office.
Then in 2018, I experienced the biggest challenge of my life. I was diagnosed with incurable bone marrow cancer in September 2018 and was given 3-6 months to live.
The years leading up to this devastating diagnosis were filled with hope and direction from what I learned following my stroke. I had gotten healthy – or so I thought – by eating and living a primal lifestyle. I even considered myself the “senior poster boy for a healthy lifestyle”.
However, the invisible cancer that was lurking inside my body had severely damaged my bone structure without me knowing. I had no idea how many years ago the malignancy began its path of destruction in my body. The pain from a fractured rib was the first symptom that brought me to my physician in 2018 at which time he uncovered my bone marrow cancer. I was 71-years old at that time.
It was as though a ton of bricks fell on me. My life as I knew it was going to change forever.
My oncologist discussed with me that conventional medicine could not cure my malignancy. With his consent, I rejected chemotherapy and pursued my own Unconventional Cancer Protocols to help strengthen my immune system and heal the rest of my body. Quality of life meant everything to me. I was not interested in longevity without a quality of life.
Some of my contemporaries and family tried to convince me that I should have never embarked on my current path. Some of my critics have been in the shadows whispering that I would fail.
But I have been blessed and fortunate to have a wife who has been stern, supportive, and loving. My pillar has brought me through some very exasperating times since my diagnosis.
My most agonizing moment occurred in August 2019 when I suffered a fractured right femur, several cracked ribs, and a broken right humerus all at one time. These pathological fractures were brought on by my weakened skeleton. I thought my life was over, and I was prepared to die. I was placed in a hospice facility to die!
But miracles do happen.
Within several weeks, my wife was able to have me transported to our home while still receiving hospice care. She gave me some tough love and convinced me that I was a survivor – not a victim. My wife brought a physical therapist into our house, got me back on my Unconventional Cancer Protocols, and I began to recover.
Within a few more weeks, I revoked hospice. By the beginning of October 2019, I was able to return to my oncologist who was shocked that I was still alive.
On 1/1/20, I began an animal-based diet which replaced my Paleo-type way of eating in my Unconventional Cancer Protocols. In my opinion, this major change in my Protocols encouraged my body to heal more naturally.
Then in May 2020, I had a new PET Scan that showed no active cancer cells in my entire body.
However, I am not in remission. But I am thriving today with an excellent quality of life.
My oncologist is pleased! And he says I am unique.
Lessons Learned the Second Time
I am still on my cancer journey. While not cured from cancer, I am living a fulfilling life with my wife.
And I am sharing my story with the world.
My Protocols have not remained the same from day “one”. I have tweaked them frequently as I continued to learn more and more. Today, they consist of 10 individual Protocols which in total have improved my immune system.
I know that most of these lifestyle and diet changes making up my Protocols will help anyone interested in recreating their robust immune system. And your immune system is your internal armed forces that come to your defense in times of need for healing – healing from internal disruptors like cancer and external irritants like viruses and bacterial invasions.
The overriding lesson I have learned is that my personal attitude has a huge influence in my overall wellbeing. A positive attitude can go a long way to assist in healing.
But under this canopy of a positive attitude are important proactive steps:
- Always question what you are told. Even if your doctor says you have a terminal disease, don’t give up. The guy in the white lab coat doesn’t know everything. I am living proof!
- Search for alternative and supportive measures to improve your quality of life. Investigate what else is being done throughout the world for patients who have the same diagnosis. One of my “go-to” sources of published and peer-reviewed medical abstracts from all over the world is PubMed.
- Incorporate the best of conventional medicine (if it makes sense to you) with the unconventual remedies you uncover (if they make sense to you).
- Above all, only put nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods into your body. And remove or avoid anything that could irritate (1) your gut or your mouth, (2) your ability to digest and absorb your food, and (3) the health of your individual cells and their production of energy.
My successes are not curing cancer. I don’t have a cure for cancer. My successes are to heal my body as best as possible and enjoy a quality of life.
I also believe in my spiritual self. I’ve written about my spirituality which has provided a sense of purpose in my life HERE.
Regrets? I have none. Even though I have encountered some serious medical obstacles along the way, I have learned so much. However, I am realistic and know that my body is dealing with a formidable challenge that may get the better of me sometime down the road.
For now, life is great. And I am making it greater day by day!
Check out my training on the Better Belly Blueprint! You can watch it HERE.