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Code Blue: Challenging Conventional Medical Education and Practice with Saray Stancic, MD: PYP 238

Dr Saray Stancic became an infectious disease specialist in response to the HIV and hepatitis C crisis of the 1980s and 90s. On October 11, 1995, the then-3rd year medical resident found a short nap window at 2am, and collapsed in fatigue in the on-call room of the hospital where she worked.

When she was awakened for her next shift, Dr Stancic couldn't feel her legs. She was rushed to the ER, and an MRI revealed multiple sclerosis (MS) with multiple lesions in the brain and spinal cord. In addition to the neuropathy in her legs, it turned out that her kidneys were also failing.

She was admitted to the hospital, given an IV steroid drip and a bunch of other medications. And just like that, a young, energetic, ambitious doctor was converted into a frightened, confused, dispirited patient.

Having treated many MS patients over the years, Dr Stancic knew well the progression of the disease, even with the best pharmaceutical protocols available: continual decline, increased pain and disability, and no possibility of reversal or cure.

Her doctors told her to plan ahead; she would almost certainly be wheelchair-bound in 20 years.

On October 11, 2015, Dr Stancic celebrated the 20th anniversary of her diagnosis by walking 20 miles.

What the… ? (Hint: diet and lifestyle, not drugs.)

In our conversation, Dr Stancic and I discuss her 8-year health decline, the poorly designed study on MS and blueberries that changed her life, and her reinvention of herself as a lifestyle medicine specialist. We covered:

  • Dr Stancic's initial career in infectious medicine
  • the transition from infectious to lifestyle medicine
  • suddenly becoming a patient
  • “in the best of hands” – not questioning the pharmaceutical approach of conventional medicine
  • doubts about her ability to continue practicing medicine
  • “it was like Groundhog Day – every day was the same”
  • taking drugs to treat the side effects of the drugs prescribed to treat the side effects of the MS drugs
  • depending on a cane and wearing a diaper, and her growing disability and depresssion
  • looking back her her diagnosis and illness as a gift
  • the article that changed her life
  • researching the diet/MS link: “Could diet be playing a role in disease formation?”
  • discovering the research of Roy Swank from 1952
  • abandoning conventional treatment and dealing with the disapproval of her doctors
  • the privilege and frustrations of sharing her message with colleagues and patients
  • the microbiome connection to autoimmune health
  • ripping off the label of “MS patient”
  • “you should run a marathon”
  • crossing the finish line of the New Jersey Marathon in 2010
  • training the next generation of physicians
  • advocating to get the Burger King franchise out of her hospital
  • finding common ground with lifestyle medicine advocates who aren't plant-based
  • raising money to finish Code Blue
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Links

DrStancic.com

CodeBlueDoc.com – all about the documentary

Support Code Blue on Indiegogo

Sign Dr Stancic's Burger King petition on Change.org

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Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

Gratitudes

Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – RuthAnn Funderburk – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Martha Bergner – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Bonnie Lynch of Plant Happy Oregon – Sabine Kurtzhals – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Justine Divett – Joshua Sommermeyer – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Valarie Hummel – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Ian Cramer – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – for your generous support of the podcast.

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