Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Words of Remembrance: Nicholas Gonzalez, MD

Nick's Funeral Service, St. Matthew's Church, Bedford NY, July 28, 2015

Thank you for coming. I would much prefer to being doing anything else today, than being here delivering my Words of Remberance and Celebration of Nick.  Yet I am here, with all of you, to honor my beloved husband, the love of my life and my true companion.

First I’d like to acknowledge the compelling and heart-felt tributes from our dear friends Suzanne Somers, Alan Hamel and Kelly Brogan. Thank you for so accurately capturing what made Nick, such an extraordinary man. And thank you Jeanne Marie, Nick’s niece and God daughter, for such lovely music. 

As Nick’s devoted wife of nearly 15 years, I would like to tell you about how Nick and I first met and how The Lord intervened to bring us together. On the morning of what was to be our first date, I woke up with a horrible sinus infection and a high fever. I stayed home from work and called Nick’s office asking if we could please reschedule. While we had made a plan for the following evening, he still offered to come over after work to bring me some natural remedies. I was instantly touched as we hadn’t even had a first date yet, and he was already offering me his compassionate care. Not accustomed to such a gentleman, I politely declined and told him I would see him the following night. 

I was still quite sick the next day, but I was determined to go out with Nick. I arrived a few minutes early and was greeted by name at the door of Nick’s favorite organic restaurant and then I was taken to his favorite table. I had chills and was sweating from the fever. My bare legs were sticking to the banquet. I was quite a sight.  Once seated he thanked me for coming, looked into my eyes and said “I can see that you are still sick, would it be ok if I took your hand?”

I looked into his deep blue eyes and willingly gave him my hands. He covered them with his own and we sat there in silence. His energy was so powerful. As he held me, my fever lifted completely and I began to fall in love. 

Throughout our marriage, Nick and I were a team. We cherished each other. And our relationship, like most marriages, faced challenges. It isn’t easy to be married to a genius.  We had long discussions before and throughout our marriage about whether, despite our profound love, we should be together since I longed for children and a home in the country and Nick knew his calling, his compulsion, was to care for his thousands of seriously ill patients who NO ONE ELSE COULD treat. He would tell me that he already had two babies: me and his work. We ultimately agreed to put the decision in God’s hands. 

While Nick loved being in the country as much as I did, but his seven day work week wasn’t compatible with a commute from the suburbs. Now, as fate may have it, we finally have our home in the country. I hope you will join us as we bury Nick immediately after this service so you can see our country home - here at St. Matthew’s Cemetery filled with war heroes, lush greenery and serenity. 

In time and with prayer, I came to realize that MY calling was to make Nick’s life as easy as possible so that he could fulfill his destiny to help so many - including some of you here today. I made it my priority, with love and partnership, to lift his stress and make our home a loving, safe haven. One Christmas when we were visiting my parents at their home on Sanibel Island, we rented a condo on the Gulf of Mexico with a gorgeous view. Nick and I found such immediate peace together on Sanibel. I was amazed at how quickly he was able to relax in that condo. So I bought it for us. 

While I had to drag him kicking and screaming out of his office and on to a plane for a few days off, 3-4 times a year, once he arrived on Sanibel and had his favorite hamburger on a whole wheat bun at Doc Ford’s, he was transformed. Our Sanibel home was one of the only places on earth where he could truly RELAX. 

One of my most treasured moments was when we celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary with a private recommitment ceremony on the beach in our bare feet in front of our Sanibel home in October 2011. Well, at least I was in my bare feet, it was hard to convince Nick to take off his socks. 

I’d like to share some of the words Nick spoke to me at our recommitment ceremony: 
 “One of the most difficult aspects of a Christian walk, that we all face, is realizing that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect and unflawed, quite the contrary. We are by our very nature flawed, imperfect...with the wonderful promise that in the future the world, flawed as it is, will be itself remade perfect, and we along with it..."
"One of the characteristics of Mary Beth that I cherished most when we were first dating, later when we were married and today...that even though she was smart, even though she had accomplished much in her professional life, she humbly and sincerely wanted, yearned in fact, to do better in her life, to be better, to be a better friend, a better wife, a better Christian. She would bury herself in her Bible studying, despite her long work days, trying to learn how to be better, to become better, to be, as she said “the BEST Mary Beth I can be.” It touched me then and it touches me now...moved me then and moves me now...I cherish that about her always and to me, that is what makes her a true Christian, a Christian Christ would cherish...”

Now, Nick knew as a very young man that he was given a gift and he had a special mission while on this earth. In his daily personal relationship with God The Holy Spirit guided him. This guidance fueled Nick’s work, gave him great strength and it also enabled Nick to know something about literally everything. 

I was constantly astounded to hear Nick speak as intelligently about politics and Bach, global warming and Mickey Mantle’s baseball’s stats as he could speak to the latest from the Kardashians and Miley Cyrus. I used to laugh with him and ask whether he really was going to the office everyday or perhaps he was simply sitting around reading US Magazine? He’d belly laugh at the thought and his eyes would dance and twinkle. 

Nick KNEW that he was destined to write a very important book that would change the course of medicine. Now Nick has already published three books and was working most nights and weekends on a massive three volume book of 125 of his best patient case reports. He had completed 106 meticulously documented, medical miracle cases of all types of cancer and other diseases. I repeatedly suggested that perhaps 100 cases would be sufficient, and we could start the publishing process. 

But Nick truly measured success in lengths of time and volume - when we would lie in bed at night and I would tell him about a good work meeting, his first question would always be “well, how long did it last?” So it will come as no surprise that a book of 100 patient cases was just NOT enough. Nick knew 125 cases was the right number. Now with the help of Dr. Linda Isaacs, we will complete his case book to honor Nick and for all humanity.

In closing, Nick lectured about his work all over the world. He loved to teach and share his knowledge to frankly, ANYONE who would listen. When lecturing, he was known to ignore his time limit and announce as they were giving him the hook, the 2 minute warning: “I’ll just keep on talking and I won’t be upset if YOU have to leave.” Nick often received thunderous standing ovations after his lectures with crowds of people following him back to his hotel room to thank him and ask questions. Similarly, I know he is so very pleased to have such a wonderful turnout today. 

I feel compelled to close with some medical advice from Dr. Nick, and I know that he is smiling because now he knows I really was listening.

So here it is: Drink 8-10 glasses of water every day; eat clean, whole foods; detox your body and take a daily pro-biotic. For those of us here who were his patients, we need to continue to do the things we have "learned and received, and heard, and seen".

Now some advice from me. 

LIVE every single day to its fullest. CHERISH the ones you love because it really can all go away in an instant, without any warning. 

I thank you for coming to honor my husband and celebrate his life and his pioneering contribution to the history of medicine. I gladly, willingly, shared my husband with the world. 

Some people go their whole lives not finding love. I am blessed that every day for nearly 15 years, I knew Nick cherished and adored me. I was His Baby and he was mine. I know I live in that twinkle in his eye. Now I know I need to find “my new normal” without him at my side.

Dear God, thank you for bringing Nick Gonzalez into my life. I pray for strength. Let me not die while I’m still alive. Amen. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

My Green Start...with Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez

My Green Start…

originally posted August 2008

How does a “Work Hard, Play Harder” NYC Advertising Sales Executive create a new life with an “Absolutely Green” Alternative Medicine Doctor?

Seven years ago my life consisted of no work/life balance, takeout food and late night entertaining. His life was dedicated to eliminating toxic substances, toxic behavior and unhealthy food consumption to treat cancer and other degenerative diseases. I was literally the embodiment of everything he worked to eliminate. How could this possibly work? I had no idea but his deep blue eyes encouraged me to find out.

Dr. Nick, aka Dr. Blue Eyes, specializes in treating and preventing disease through good nutrition, detoxification and natural enzyme supplements. From our first date, his unique medical program intrigued me. I figured that it must work as here I was having a fabulous organic meal at one of NYC’s best restaurants with a sexy doctor who looked half his age! During dinner a restaurant patron came over to our table and introduced himself to me as the son of a woman who Dr. Nick saved from a horrible cancer. He said Nick was his hero. I was now more than intrigued and very quickly started to fall in love.

Five weeks later we got engaged, and 10 months later, we got married. We had a Green “Pre-nuptial agreement”. For the opportunity to share my life with Dr. Nick, I made significant green adjustments to my lifestyle. While previously surrounded by fast food, partying, convenient/non-healthy “solutions”, I had accepted this lifestyle as the norm. I hadn’t realized how toxic my life had become until I heard about his alternative solution. Once my eyes were open, I began to understand why my past lifestyle wasn’t good for my holistic (or spiritual) health. And with Nick at my side, I saw how a few simple, easy changes could make a greener, healthier life possible for me.

Nothing happened overnight…I took one step at a time with his patient, loving guidance. Feeling better physically encouraged me to continue to taking more steps and pretty soon I looked at myself and I was healthy and happier then I ever had been.

Here are a few simple, greener steps to get yourself started:
Out with the Old In with the New
1. from corner convenience stores to organic health food stores
2. from take out food to cooking clean foods at home
3. from toxic cleaning supplies to non-toxic, natural cleaners
4. from late nights at bars to cozy nights together at home and in bed by 10pm
5. from antibiotics when sick to nutritional supplements every day
6. from cabs to walk/subway/buses
7. from a toxic household to organic mattress, sheets and towels
8. from plugged in cell phone chargers to unplugged chargers whenever not in use

In this green blog, I’ll try to explain the HOWs and the WHYs and the ways I sometimes can “cheat” and still feel good about my choices. I’m now surrounded by Green friends who are living this healthy life and hearing their stories can inspires us all. I’ll draw on their experiences and hope you’ll join in the conversation and share your own ideas for Going Green.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Natural Beauty Products Review: Best Shampoos and Conditioners

Miley needs more, Kim needs less and everyone wants Jennifer’s. Hair simply tops the list of what women obsess about the most. A great hair day can give us confidence and a little bounce in our step. Yet what price does our health pay for such gorgeous hair? Does great hair have to be a byproduct of rubbing dangerous chemicals into our scalp that seep through the skin and blood, to circulate to every corner of our bodies?  Not any more. Nature is on the way to save you and your hairdo.

To start, look for natural hair products that don’t use sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or other chemical surfactants. SLS is a man-made substance manufactured from a toxic petroleum derivative, ethylene oxide gas, that is neither ecological nor sustainable. To bring nature back to my hair, I started experimenting by using 10 different organic and all natural hair products trying a different brand of shampoos/conditioners/hair gels every 5 days. So when I developed a very itchy dry scalp and clogged hair follicles (eek, nasty scalp pimples) for the first time in my life, I knew which products I had reacted adversely to. I learned which brands to avoid, which ones really worked to make my hair shiny, healthy and clean. 

While experimenting in my shower laboratory, I discovered hair products that are 100% natural and 100% gorgeous. Since I still like a good lather, I found products that enable soapy hair soup without sodium lauryl sulfate or other chemicals. I’ll confess that I am blessed with naturally good hair – dark brown, shiny, slight wave, overall easy to manage. My biggest hair challenge is being sensitive to change as my hair can lose its shape rather quickly in a hat, a strong wind, after a good nap or a few hours in an airplane. So I added these factors to my experiments and exposed my hair to the elements and as many naps as possible. All for the good of science of course. 

Recommended non-toxic hair products:
Oribe: This wonderful, luxury gentle hair care line is now sulfate-free and formulated without parabens or sodium chloride plus it is color and keratin treatment safe. It does have a light perfume scent (which I love). 

Dr. Hauschka: Sustainable, eco-friendly business practices from recyclable and biodegradable packaging to organic and naturally derived ingredients, all free of synthetic fragrances
    • Revitalizing Hair & Scalp Tonic
    • Strengthening Hair Treatment
Burt’s Bees: An earth friendly, natural personal care company making a wide range of natural products formulated to help you maximize your well-being and protect your environment – and to make our busy lives easier, these winners are widely available in health food and drug stores.
    • More Moisture Baobab Shampoo and Conditioner: Baobab Oil’s antioxidants combined with nourishing Avocado Oil. Gives you super smooth and irresistibly soft hair. 
    • Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment: Take the time to do this once a week for at least 5 minutes before shampooing, this treatment of avocado and olive oils soothes your scalp while rosemary, almond oil and nettle provide a glossy shine.

While I was conducting these experiments, my friend supermodel Carol Alt told me that she has washed her long, gorgeous hair with a flower. Just flower petals and water. I’m sure that there are other natural ways to clean your hair and look fabulous. Please share your own solutions, my chemical-free ears are open.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

Shampooing with Antifreeze?

Shampooing with Antifreeze?

When I started on my journey to be healthier and eliminate toxins from my life, I began to read labels. Food labels, cleaning supply labels and personal care labels. I had no idea that shampoo, toothpaste, skin cleansers, hair conditioner, hand lotions, perfumes, deodorant, lip balm, baby oil…the personal care items I used everyday were full of harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals. 

My eyes glazed over when I read their ingredients: sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium citrate, imidazolidinyl urea and DMDM hydantoin, titanium dioxide, cocamidopropyl betaine, isopropyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol. Yours will too. Did you know...

Isopropyl Alcohol: Isopropyl alcohol is found in hair color rinses, body rubs, hand lotions, after-shave lotions, fragrances and many other cosmetics. This petroleum-derived substance is also used in antifreeze and as a solvent in shellac. According to  Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, inhalation or ingestion of the vapor may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting and coma

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): Used as detergents and surfactants, these closely related compounds are found in car wash soaps, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers. Yet both SLS and SLES are used more widely as one of the major ingredients in cosmetics, toothpastes, hair conditioner and about 90% of all shampoos and products that foam. Mark Fearer, in an article Dangerous Beauty remarks " tests, animals that were exposed to SLS experienced eye damage, along with depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation and corrosion and death." According to the American College of Toxicology: "...both SLS and SLES can cause malformation in children's eyes. It is possibly the most dangerous of all ingredients in personal care products. Research has shown that SLS when combined with other chemicals can be transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens, which causes the body to absorb nitrates at higher levels than eating nitrate-contaminated food." According to the American College of Toxicology report, "SLS stays in the body for up to five days...Other studies have indicated that SLS easily penetrates through the skin and enters and maintains residual levels in the heart, the liver, the lungs and the brain. This poses serious questions regarding its potential health threat through its use in shampoos, cleansers and toothpaste." 

Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin: These are two of the many preservatives that release formaldehyde (formaldehyde-donors). According to the Mayo Clinic, formaldehyde can irritate the respiratory system, cause skin reactions and trigger heart palpitations. Exposure to formaldehyde may cause joint pain, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness and loss of sleep. It can irritate coughs and colds and trigger asthma. Serious side effects include weakening of the immune system and cancer. Nearly all brands of skin, body and hair care, antiperspirants and nail polish found in stores contain formaldehyde-releasing ingredients. 

PEG: This is an abbreviation for polyethylene glycol that is used in making cleansers to dissolve oil and grease as well as thicken products. Because of their effectiveness, PEG's are often used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners and yet are found in many personal care products. PEG's contribute to stripping the Natural Moisture Factor, leaving the immune system vulnerable. They are also potentially carcinogenic

Propylene Glycol (PG): As a 'surfactant' or wetting agent and solvent, this ingredient is the active component in antifreeze. There is no difference between the PG used in industry and the PG used in personal care products. It is used in industry to break down protein and cellular structure (what the skin is made of) yet is found in most forms of make-up, hair products, lotions, after-shaves, deodorants, mouthwashes and toothpastes. It is also used in food processing. Because of its ability to quickly penetrate the skin, the EPA requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles when working with this toxic substance. The Material Safety Data Sheets warn against skin contact, as PG has systemic consequences such as brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. Consumers are not protected nor is there a warning label on products such as stick deodorants, where the concentration is greater than that in most industrial applications. 

Why do we need to put antifreeze in our shampoos? 
Why does toothpaste have a warning label about it being harmful if swallowed?
Do I need to risk my personal health to practice good hygiene?
When did getting clean and beautiful get so chemical? 

For expert information on how I could protect myself, I turned to Harvard’s School of Public Health: Harmful, untested chemicals rife in personal care products. While the direct connection between putting these harsh chemicals on our bodies and causing disease isn’t conclusive, I decided that I won’t use them if there are safer products that work just as well.  Now I just needed to find these safe personal care products. 

I turned our extra bathroom into a laboratory and started my research. After exploring Skin Deep, a respected resource database from Environmental Working Group, I learned which brands had the least harmful scores and brought them into my little lab. Then I tested and tested and eventually discovered new brands which were effective and healthier for my body. 

More to come on my laboratory results and these fabulous natural brands in future posts. Meanwhile, I encourage you to share the natural brands you love and please tell me if my natural deodorant isn’t as effective as I think it is. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Healthy Inside and Out

I learned the importance of what we put into and on our bodies the hard way. How different beauty products, personal care products, and foods have the power to heal or harm. Ultimately how making healthier choices enabled me to feel better and age well. 

The most common reasons women seek a healthier lifestyle are when diagnosed with a serious illness or pregnancy. These life altering occasions force us to look at our choices and reexamine how we will conduct ourselves differently in the future. 

In my case, I had serious medical problems starting in high school. Fainting spells, severe migraines and blackouts led me to specialists seeking a solution. As I headed off to college, I still didn’t have an official diagnosis but the suggested treatment was to take preventive action. My prescribed diet: no aged cheese, no chocolate, no food with preservatives and no red wine. It wasn't easy to live this way especially when I ate in my college cafeteria and lived in the dorms. I was sick more often than not and knew that I could black out at any minute. In my late 20s, my medical episodes happened less frequently and doctors concluded I had a hormonal imbalance despite inclusive testing.

It wasn't until I met my husband, Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez MD, at age 34 and went on his nutritional program that I saw all of my symptoms go away. My husband created a customized protocol for me, like the ones he has created for thousands of others to treat their cancer and other degenerative diseases, often successfully. My new diet: organic produce and meat, and a variety of supplements designed to provide the essential nutrients that were deficient, plus a detox program including the adoption of nontoxic, organic beauty, personal care and home cleaning products. 

Living this healthy lifestyle has cured my migraines and blackouts AND made my hair shine and my skin glow. The program has a powerful anti-aging effect. On my path to lead a green lifestyle, I studied and experimented with many different ways of eliminating toxins from my food, personal care products and home. I made plenty of mistakes along the way and hope to share those learnings while inviting you to add your own solutions to leading a healthier, more beautiful life.