At age 30, Keesha woke up one day, expecting to start a trip to Disneyworld with her family. But instead of Disney, she headed to the doctor.
She had woken with red, achy joints and seemed to have gained 10 pounds in puffiness. And this marathoner, with seemingly limitless energy, was exhausted.
Upon seeing a doctor, she described her pain and mentioned that her grandfather had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition that affects the joints. On the spot, the doctor diagnosed her with the same.
Then she proceeded to prescribe two medications for the mother of four. But as a nurse who had worked for years in the ICU, Keesha felt strongly about not going on meds.
“I knew the side effect profile of the meds, and I knew that the kind of mother that I was at that time, I wasn’t going to be able to sustain that,” she says. “I was really seeking something that wouldn’t have a cost-benefit ratio that put me in the hole.”
‘I Don’t Do Anger’
Resolving to find alternatives, Keesha’s research turned up a study showing that yoga could help autoimmune conditions. Yoga was decidedly not her speed. Plus, her conservative worldview at the time left her nervous about what she anticipated might involve chanting.
But she tentatively went anyway – and was glad she did. It was perhaps the first time that this driven individual and self-described perfectionist slowed down.
At the time, she was raising four kids, training for a marathon and had once thrived on adrenaline as an intensive care nurse.
Yoga also exposed Keesha, for the first time, to the concept of Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. Ayurveda believes that wellness depends on a balance between the mind, body and spirit.
In Ayurveda, Keesha learned, autoimmune disease is considered undigested anger – which struck Keesha as true for her.
“I definitely don’t do anger,” she says. “Then where is it going? Clearly, I have some events in my life that I ought to be angry about – obviously undigested – and I’m turning it in more toward myself.”
No More RA Pain – after Therapy
Yoga then led her to meditation and further introspection. During one meditation session, the word “autoimmunity” popped up. Examining it further, she fully understood that her body was attacking itself.
“I started going backward and asking the question, ‘Why am I killing myself? When did I first want to die?’” she recalls. “I landed on sexual abuse when I was 10 and I thought, ‘Oh yeah, she wanted to die.’ That version of me really wanted off this planet.”
Keesha thought she had moved on from abuse at the hands of a school administrator, but now she suspected it was unresolved.
Over the years, she had adopted perfectionist behavior to compensate. She pushed herself in every aspect of her life: school, work, parenting and athletics.
“I had to really go heal those early belief patterns and stop living from, ‘I have to be perfect to survive,’” she says. “That was my messaging.”
For help, Keesha turned to various forms of Western therapy. And within six months of beginning therapy, her rheumatoid arthritis pain actually disappeared.
While yoga and meditation encouraged an inward look at herself, therapy had helped her heal from trauma.
Now, she tells others, “Western medicine is correct. RA is not curable, but it is reversible.”
Prepared for the Next Daunting Diagnosis
Keesha’s profound experience changed her life in more ways than one. She went on to pursue degrees and certifications in functional medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, psychotherapy and herbalism, and even earn a doctorate in sexology.
In 2013, she conducted the HURT study (Healing Un-Resolved Trauma) and went on to develop the HURT model for understanding how past childhood trauma impacts adult health.
She came to understand this:
“Your cells message differently from a trauma place.”
How? She explains, the body’s messaging comes from its command center, the brain. Then, what your mind perceives influences what your brain tells your body to do next. For those in a trauma pattern, the brain will be on high alert. In fact, studies show that someone who scores high on a perceived stress index will have the same brain changes as someone with PTSD, she says.
A New Diagnosis: Breast Cancer
All her studies helped prepare Keesha for another diagnosis 10 years after putting her RA into remission. In a routine physical, Keesha learned she had breast cancer. On the ultrasound, she recalls seeing blood pulsing into the lump in her left breast.
She immediately knew what it was about. Recently, one of her teenage sons had shared that he and his brother had been abused at the hands of a neighbor boy, a babysitter, many years before.
Following that devastating news, her sons sought therapy and Keesha brought them together with the babysitter for healing and forgiveness.
Yet, when breast cancer turned up four months later, she immediately understood why.
“I knew exactly what it was from,” she says. “It’s like the next step here has not been done, and that is to stop with the violence inward. Resentment is the most toxic chemical, and it’s not manufactured by corporations and dumped into the air, water and soil. It’s inside of us. It’s manufactured by us.”
Breast Cancer Gone – in a Month
Keesha chose not to go through conventional cancer treatment.
Instead, she put her head down to do the tough therapy she knew she needed. She worked through emotions of guilt and shame, forgave herself and learned to love herself.
And within a month, the lump in her breast was gone. On the ultrasound, there was dead space where the tumor had once been.
Keesha’s quick to point out, however, that this was her personal experience. For others, the causes of and treatment for breast cancer will vary.
“I don’t ever walk around saying you can get rid of your breast cancer in a month by going to therapy,” she says. “I didn’t tell that story for a long time because I didn’t want people walking away thinking all you have to do is think your way out of it, because everyone’s different as to why they have breast cancer.”
In her case, she had already done a ton of other work to be as healthy as possible: detox, diet, healing leaky gut, balancing her adrenals and hormones, and more.
No One Answer for Health
So what kind of therapy does she find most effective?
According to Keesha, talk therapy can take as long as 20 years to make an impact. In her own practice, she prefers to use brain spotting, EMDR and hypnotherapy.
Beyond that, she helps countless individuals reclaim their health from the inside out through her practice, courses, events, retreats and books, including Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle: The Woman’s Guide to Reclaiming Emotional Freedom and Vibrant Health. She combines physical, mental, emotional and spiritual approaches to healing.
She stresses that healing typically takes a combination of tactics. “I always explain that to my patients because they’re always looking for a smoking gun, like the one thing. And that doesn’t exist ever,” she says.
If you liked this story, you might also enjoy: How a Florida Woman Healed Her Breast Cancer Naturally.
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