BECOMING THE CEO OF MY OWN LIFE By Mike Bernatovicz
For forty years I worked in the healthcare industry, the last 20 years as CEO of a community hospital in Northeast Ohio. The focus of my philosophy on healthcare during those years was on disease treatment. Since my retirement in 1998 and relocation to Asheville, NC, my philosophy has changed dramatically. How did that change happen?
In the summer of 1994 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I had the gland surgically removed and experienced the temporary and permanent side affects of that procedure. My PSA numbers stayed at an acceptable level for about five years. Eventually, however, they started to rise. My PSA rose to a level that traditional medicine suggested the cancer had returned. After consulting with an urologist and radiation oncologist, I chose seven weeks of radiation treatments to try again to remove the cancer, risking the temporary and permanent side affects that are part of that treatment.
At that same time, I decided to make a major life style adjustment and went on the macrobiotic diet, with the guidance of Lino Stanchich. My wife of 48 years, Fredreen, has been a long-time macrobiotic practitioner. She studied Michio and Aveline Kushi's macrobiotic philosophy and cooking at Bob Carr’s facilities, when we lived in Ohio. Fredreen had tried for 35 years, with no success, to get me to eat macrobiotic foods. Now I was ready.
After the radiation treatments, my PSA number did return to an acceptable level, but in a very short period of time started to rise again. Although we continued the macrobiotic way of life, we started to get careless. My urologist was again concerned and encouraged me to consider having hormone shots every three to four months for the rest of my life, which included the potential side affect that goes along with the shots.
With the threat of another cancer reoccurrence, I immediately returned to my macrobiotic counselor, Lino Stanchich. He suggested adjustments to my previous macrobiotic diet before my next PSA screening. For seven weeks, I followed his advice. To the surprise of my urologist, my PSA fell to an acceptable level. At that point I was convinced that the macrobiotic way of life was the reason for the reduction and all the efforts to eliminate the cancer by surgery and radiation were not the long-term solution.
Seventy percent of the health problems in this country are life-style related. Since being on the macrobiotic way of life for almost nine years, I have reduced my weight by almost 50 pounds and have been able to keep it off. I have lowered by blood pressure to a level that eliminated the need for medication. During these nine years my blood pressure has been elevated at times and the doctors wanted me to go on drugs, which I refused. I have controlled my blood pressure by drastically reducing my salt intake and started a breathing exercise program that has my blood pressure in the acceptable range. My cholesterol level had been in the 120-150 range during the past nine years and my HDL, LDL, Triglycerides and Glucose are in the acceptable range.
What was learned from this health experience is that traditional medicine only treats the symptoms of an illness, not the cause. Healthy eating and a regular exercise program eliminated the cause of the illness. Diseases are not caught. We break down our natural defenses by the way we eat, drink, feel, think and live. The “good life” isn’t so good and the Standard American Diet (SAD) is really sad. We spend over 16% of our Gross National Product on healthcare in this country but our healthcare in this country is ranked 24th in the world. Not a very good investment.
I was like the vast majority of people who try and solve their medical problems the easy way, with expensive drugs and very expensive medical procedures like surgery, radiation treatments, chemotherapy and all there side affects, rather than taking our health into our own hands by eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, which has no side affects, but rather positive affects of feeling better and having a high energy level. John Robbins in his book, Reclaiming Our Health has the best quote that I would like to quote. “ If we are to create a society dedicated to supporting and maintaining health for all people, then it is up to us to do everything we can to place genuine accountability and responsibility of our lives into our own hands”. And here is the best part. “THE MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT WILL ONLY GET OFF ITS PEDESTALWHEN WE GET OFF OUR KNEES”.
The solution to most of our medical problems in this country is right under our nose – the food we eat and drink. Billions of dollars have been donated to health groups like the American Cancer Society and others and yet cures for diseases like cancer have not been discovered and probably will never be found. Since President Nixon and Congress declared a war on cancer back in the last 1970’s cancer rates have actually increased and cancer is close to becoming the number 1 cause of death in this country. If food is advertised, you shouldn’t purchase it. The size of our population in this country is another major problem and not just with adults and seniors, but our youth.
At first I wasn’t very happy about having cancer. Now, however, I am grateful for my cancer and thank God constantly. It woke me up and made me realize that I had to take my healthcare into my own hands, rather than depend on the current medical system. I firmly believe that if I had followed the macrobiotic lifestyle, like my wife wanted me to 35 years ago, I would have been a healthier person and would not have developed prostate cancer. Also I would have had a difficult time working in the current healthcare system. Most likely I would have made a career change.
I first became a CEO of a medical company, then, through dedicated changes, became CEO of my own life. Where I once focused all my energies into creating "fiscal" health for my hospital, I am now creating every day greater "physical" health for my body and spiritual well being for my soul. I attribute my success to the love and skills of my wife, Fredreen, and my family, to my macrobiotic guidance and education, and especially to my faith in God. I have truly realized that "Health is indeed our greatest wealth." The Macrobiotic Path to Health is truly the best investment I ever made!