This is a story I never really thought I’d share outside of my family and friends. But I’ve decided to change that because it’s something that needs to be told because you never know who needs to hear it or who’s going through the same problems. Despite my former reservations, today seems like the right time to speak my testimony. It’s kind of long but it’s all relevant, I promise. My story begins about 5 years ago. I just finished working in the entertainment department for a cruise line, but wanted to get into the production group for singing and dancing. So, I started auditioning a lot, going back and forth from home to different states. During all of that, I got a job working as a concierge to earn money to pay bills and go to these auditions. It was pretty tiring but I was determined to make it happen. For a couple of months, I started getting used to the routine with my new job and the travel to the auditions, but what I didn’t know was the wear and tear it was causing me. It was becoming increasingly stressful and the signs started showing up in the form of swelling and aching in different parts of my joints. I also started gaining weight weirdly even though I was always exercising and moving. It started to concern me a little but not enough to think it was anything truly serious. That was until my body MADE me become concerned. Three months into the job and auditions, my symptoms got worse. My hands were swelling to the point where I couldn’t move them. The same for my knees and ankles. One night, my mom and dad had to come and get me from my job and my dad even had to carry me up the stairs to my room because my knees and feet were so swollen. My doctor’s initial diagnosis was an infection and gave me steroids to combat the symptoms. The swelling went down after a few days but it was also about that time when I thought maybe I was taking on too much. So, I decided to slow down with the auditions and change to a less demanding job. It wasn’t until a week later, that all these symptoms were a culmination of a bigger problem. On the morning of August 30, 2014, after attending a concert the night before with my best friend, I woke up and couldn’t move…at all. I was completely swollen, and I could just barely stand. Luckily, my friend was still there and was able to drop me off to the hospital. They kept me overnight for observation and testing. It wasn’t until 4 days later, I was diagnosed with systemic lupus eurythematosis (SLE). Approximately 3 days later, I was released from the hospital and given medical prescriptions to try and combat the growing symptoms and recommendations of specialists to help with further evaluation of the illness. Not really know how serious my case was, I conducted research in the disease prior to my first appointment with my nephrologist. More testing occurred and I was placed in the hospital again for more testing and trials. My illness had progressed to farther than they’d realized (it was SLE class 4/5). If the doctors hadn’t have found the correct dosages of meds to combat the symptoms, the next step would’ve been chemotherapy. I was able to go home two weeks later with a new diet, half a grocery bag worth of pills and a new outlook on my lifestyle changes. I’ll tell ya it wasn’t a very positive one, but I was determined to get through this because my family and friends were counting on me. So after four months (January 2015) of taking medication and adhering to a lifestyle change, the doctors stated that my illness had gone into remission. Throughout all of this, still didn’t feel quite like myself. I felt I was forever in a fog, my body wasn’t the same due to the weight gain and taking a very high dosage steroids, and it led to depression. For someone who’s been active all her life, to not be able to breathe or move like I use to and to still be so young, made me so angry, frustrated and sad. There had to be another way, a better way to feel. A year later, I switched careers and went into massage therapy. I still kept the singing and dancing dream alive because this field happened to call to me. It opened my eyes up to a new alternative way of thinking and looking at healthcare.This also helped me redevelop my fine motor skills due to my suffering of muscular atrophy. This helped me to realize a new gift as a healer. I looked into more things about massage even after finishing school and getting into the field. I just felt the need to do more and more research about how there is more to healthcare than people realize. I wouldn’t get to the bottom of my problem until a few years later, and stumbling upon the most valuable information I’ve ever read. I just moved to Georgia a year ago and was determined to take control of my life more. So, I began to wean myself off of my meds. It’s not something I recommend everyone to do and not without the advisement of one’s physician either. I was already in the process of being weaned off my meds but I decided to take one step further. I had been doing more research into autoimmune disease and gut health and really diving into what would be the one thing that made a significant change for my illness. I came across a couple of YouTube videos, one of them being yours Donna, on how bacteria really are a core subject to how your body functions. So I began buying and consuming kefir, but it wasn’t until I started making my own that I saw a REAL change in moods, my body and just how I functioned in general. I started going to local farms to buy raw milk, veggies and kefir grains to start my own fermentation corner in the house. With the instructions from your website and your videos to include others regarding different recipes, I fell in love with eating and making fermented foods. If I miss a day of my new eating regiment, I feel the difference. By adding this to my diet and other lifestyle changes, have led me to a point where it’s possible to reduce certain medications, otherwise, I felt foggy. Six months into my fermentation journey, I received a call from my doctor stating that the latest lab test results were normalized to a point where there was little to no trace of my illness. Now granted, an autoimmune disease can come back depending on the body and the triggers that can cause it (and mine was severe stress and poor nutrition), but to hear those words felt like a miracle in my mind. I bawled as more and more of my results came back positive. My family was equally excited about this good news as well. This heavy weight was just lifted off my shoulders and gave me hope to do continue to do more for myself and for others on the benefits of fermented foods in their lifestyle. So, now here I am writing this on my 30th birthday. It is a milestone birthday, and 5 years ago I never thought I would make it to this point. I wanted to share this with you and your readers/listeners to let them know that you helped me significantly in this process. You were, as you like to say, my lighthouse that helped guide me towards this part of my journey that made a big change in my life. I thank you for being the wonderful person you are and for you to continue your mission to be a guide to those who are in need of this vital information. To you and your family, stay blessed.