I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania and of course that meant being a Philadelphia Eagles fan. Some of my best memories are of my mother throwing stuff at the television complaining about the Eagles. I was the oldest of 6 which had its own challenges. I went to school at Mansfield University and became a respiratory therapist. I think it is during this point in my life that I contracted hepatitis C. I taught respiratory therapy for many years after practicing and eventually moved into medical sales. I traveled all over the country selling medical equipment, from lasers to anesthesia machines.
In 2009 I developed a squamous cell carcinoma in my neck. I went through all the traditional treatment, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. This left me with a shoulder that didn’t work very well and no saliva glands on my left side, as well as other issues. I decided that I was not going to let this affect my ability to go diving which is one of my passions, but I still wasn’t convinced at this point that I needed to switch my diet. I did have many challenges regarding my diet and was looking for other alternatives. On one of my regular visits to see my gastroenterologist, I was being evaluated for the new hepatitis C medication. I have been dealing with hepatitis for approximately 22 to 23 years. I have gone through one round of chemotherapy for hepatitis C, which was especially grueling. I made up my mind then, I was not going to do it again unless there was a very good chance that I would be cured. This is why I was optimistic about the new medications coming out.
My physician was going over routine tests and found evidence of cancer on my liver. This discovery sent me to the Mayo Clinic to be evaluated for a liver transplant. The first question I asked was whether or not I would be able to continue to go diving after a liver transplant. I was told that the cancer was in a place where they could not operate. They decided to treat the cancer through a process called chemo arterial embolization. This process helped quiet the cancer but made other issues worse. It was at this point that I decided to start looking around for ways to help myself.
My chiropractor had been trying to get me to go on a plant-based diet for years. I finally went to see him for nutritional counseling and after attending a nutritional weekend, I dove into the deep end of the pool. It has been a little over a year since I did that and I have not looked back. I’ve lost weight, developed more energy and noticed that my body seems to be working better. My tumor marker is normal and the MRIs have not found anything. This has made me more passionate about staying on a vegan diet. I have met lots of wonderful passionate people with amazing stories while walking down this path.
When I met Danielle at Veg Fest in Jacksonville, I was taken in by her passion and enthusiasm. I’m at the point in my life where I’m doing the things that I love. I am working as a Diving Instructor and underwater photographer. I have been married to the woman I love for 31 years. She loves to dive, eat vegan food and sometimes gets bored with my photography, probably because she spends so much time waiting for me to take a few pictures. We have two wonderful children and a seven year old granddaughter, who also loves her veggies. We live in Jacksonville, Florida which puts us near the granddaughter, the ocean and a vibrant vegan community. What could be better?
Michael’s territory is Northeast Florida and wherever he happens to be traveling! Contact Michael to review your favorite veg-friendly restaurants within the Jacksonville area.