A Better Way
Each year SupplementRelief.com provides a $500 scholarship award to one deserving post-secondary (university or community college) student who provides the winning essay promoting a healthier living lifestyle. We are proud to announce our Fall 2020 Health & Wellness scholarship recipient Christopher D'Andrea from University of Central Florida who is pursuing a career in psychology.
Editor's Note 2020 SupplementRelief.com Health & Wellness Scholarship essay winner.
Most young adults reminisce about sleepovers and summer camp. I can't. For me, turning twelve years old marked the beginning of my "incurable" bump in the road. When the doctor diagnosed me with C-Diff and Crohn's Disease.
The smell of alcohol...
The sight of needles...
The sound of a grim prognosis...
'Living' would require a lifelong dependency on steroids, immunosuppressive drugs, chemo medicine, and antibiotics. The only "cure" was removing my colon and wearing a colostomy bag. The doctors explained that the danger of developing this condition as a child is that it 'severely stunts growth and development' and that I would be stuck in a sixth-grade body for the rest of my life. And within a decade, the statistical probability of developing colon cancer was very high.
Three years of internal bleeding and a fierce battle against a fatal infection followed the initial diagnosis. Thoughts shifted from boyish daydreams into crippling nightmares. "Will I have a colostomy bag at graduation?" "Will I live long enough to get married and start a family?" Another disheartening outcome that developed with this tragedy was having to leave traditional school and all of the friendships that I had in my life, leaving me feeling completely and utterly alone. The only person I had left was my devoted mother, as even my father abandoned me when I became sick.
As you can imagine, I had a hard time coming to terms with this diagnosis. I didn't understand the common mistake that I made that caused all this hardship in my life... Like so many others, I didn't prioritize my health and instead fell into a cycle of pushing my body until exhaustion without providing myself the proper tools to stay healthy. I learned the hard way that this kind of lifestyle only leaves us drained, exhausted, and eventually chronically ill.
With the medications only serving to make me worse, and side effects which caused more harm than good, including all-night treacherous migraines, extreme muscle weakness, frailty, and immobility. I knew there had to be a better way than the grim options that conventional medicine gave us. These difficult times led my mom and me to learn about aand it's potential disease-fighting capabilities. I wasn't sure what to expect, but out of desperation, we decided to give it a try. What I didn't anticipate was how easily I would come to embrace (and fall in love) with this new way of life. We had found a better way.
Not only did this new lifestyle improve my health, but I quickly began connecting with the many other aspects of living a healthy lifestyle, I became connected with my "why." I discovered that being "healthy" is about so much more than just not being sick, it's about complete personal wellness. It's about learning to listen to your body and giving yourself the proper tools to stay healthy. I learned that when you fall ill, it's not that your body failed you, it's that you failed your body.
Through the years, living a healthy lifestyle became less and less about "fighting a disease" and instead about the joy that I gained from discovering this new and better way of life. Instead of demanding impossible things from my body, I learned to respect, honor, and care for it so it could care for me. I became interested in everything that this new life had to offer, and I devoted myself to learning organic food gardening, how to cook healthy plant-based specialty meals, and how to shift your paradigm to always find the good out of any situation that life throws your way. I am proud to say that I was able to find my silver lining.
If it wasn't for this journey, I would have never found a plant-based lifestyle.
The nine years that followed the initial diagnosis haven't been easy, actually, they have been far from it... but I never let my health define my life, and I NEVER let it stop me from accomplishing my goals and ambitions. Instead, I use it as motivation to help me accomplish my health goals of treating my body with love and respect through eating a whole food plant-based diet and making sure that I am always giving myself enough margin. Although it can be challenging as a full-time student with three jobs, I'm mindful not to fall into the common health traps that I have before, and that so many people struggle with.
Through my health journey, I came to the desire to help other young adults like me learn the importance of a healthy lifestyle. My desire is to one day become a public speaker and author, helping people by sharing my story, inspiring them, and mobilizing them to change their lives for the better. And although these dreams are in the future since I am still a full-time student, I am taking actionable steps towards helping others by building a blog, a YouTube channel, and social media presence devoted to teaching others these lessons. Ironically this actually keeps me more consistent with my health goals by writing and sharing them with others!
If I was chosen for this scholarship, a desire I have is to use it to become a certified health coach or certified naturopathic practitioner. This would allow me a venue to shine a light on how living a healthy lifestyle can change your world. It's so much more than a diet... it's the most stunningly beautiful journey! I'm ready to light the flame of inspiration for those who seek the truth.
So whether my destiny is to change a life through a book, a speaking platform, or even just one-on-one coaching to the young child with a newfound diagnosis, or the resigned adult who's given up all hope from a chronic illness, this is what I would say:
The way your story began, is not how it has to end. All things really are possible if you can have faith and believe. Embrace the joy of a healthy lifestyle. And with every sip of green juice, celebrate that food is your medicine and medicine is your food. And smile at your scars because they tell the amazing story of how within your greatest struggles is when you discover your greatest strengths. And above all else, it's never too late to begin again.
Thank you for this opportunity.
Editor's Note Christopher has a presence on YouTube and other social platforms where he advocates for a Wellness lifestyle.
We encourage you to take advantage of these FREE Wellness Resources on our website.
Balanced Life is a Healthy Life
Each year SupplementRelief.com provides a $500 scholarship award to one deserving post-secondary (university or community college) student who provides the winning essay promoting a healthier living lifestyle. We are proud to announce our Fall 2021 Health & Wellness scholarship recipient Arleth De Avila from Iowa State University who is pursuing a career in business administration.
Living Healthy: A Lifestyle Choice
Each year SupplementRelief.com provides a $500 scholarship award to one deserving post-secondary (university or community college) student who provides the winning essay promoting a healthier living lifestyle. We are proud to announce our Fall 2023 Health & Wellness scholarship recipient Leobardo Reyes.
Pursuing Authentic Wellness Despite Societal Expectations
Each year SupplementRelief.com provides a $500 scholarship award to one deserving post-secondary (university or community college) student who provides the winning essay promoting a healthier living lifestyle. We are proud to announce our Fall 2022 Health & Wellness scholarship recipient Cari Clements from University of New Brunswick who is pursuing a career in nursing.
The information, knowledge, and experience shared on this website is the opinion of SupplementRelief.com. This site and its content is intended to enhance your knowledge base as YOU MAKE YOUR OWN HEALTHCARE DECISIONS in partnership with your qualified health professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products referred to are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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