Disease Is A Lousy Lover

MaryDuggan_hands on hip

By Mary Duggan

Why do folks fall in love with their diseases? I just don’t get it. The minute someone tells me that they have MS or RA or Lupus or Fibromyalgia, and the list goes on from there, I can hear it in their voice. That immediate embracing of victim energy. This fell from the sky and it landed on me. I am not lucky. My mother had it. I have learned to live with it. My doctor says, my doctor says, my doctor says seems to be the primary mantra that keeps them down for the count and deeply invested in their disease.

When folks with any sort of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Krohn’s Disease say my doctor told me that what I eat will make no difference at all I actually want to scream. On and on it goes and I need an alternative to screaming. What is it with us human beings that we surrender so quickly and fully to our diagnosis of disease? Why do we fall in love with the very thing that should cause us to rise up, run in the opposite direction, rage or retreat. Why do we so love our diagnosis of disease?

sisters 3 rome lobby wedding day

The Duggan Sisters at Clare’s wedding. Annie was gluten, soy, dairy free and wracked with IBS. A Forrest Yogi teaching 12 classes a week and way into aerobics; but nothing was working. Thank God, raw foods were just around the corner for all of us.

I have to wonder if diseases don’t give us permission to make ill-informed choices in our lives and then blame “disease” for the consequences. Whenever someone shares how badly they are hurting I bite my tongue. I have learned the hard way. They do not want to know how to make it stop hurting. They do not want to know how to turn things around. They do not want to read even one ground-breaking book or hear even one powerful testimonial from folks who have thumbed their nose at a diagnosis and have chosen instead to make changes that arrest and reverse the disease process. They might even want you to feel sad for them and sorry for them and they usually want you to commiserate. The key there is co-misery. You are being invited to enter their misery – not to heal it. If we can learn how to draw someone away from miserable and towards making healthy choices or God forbid taking risks to get healthy, then we have done our job as healers.

I also think folks hold their physician in much too high a level of esteem. And I am someone who knows some extraordinary physicians and I hold them in very high esteem. But I don’t hold every physician in equally high esteem. I have learned that they differ widely from each other in what they know, what they believe, how they think and how they diagnose. So why do people get a diagnosis of a disease from one physician and then afford him the God-like stature of being the only medical voice that matters. I see this commonly when people are gushing over their love affair with the wide range of  autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Just like I think disease is a nasty lover who leaves people battered and isolated; I think lots of docs behave like pimps for the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. These disease pimps deserve the boot as well.

I often ask folks if they have heard about the work of Dr. Brown or read the book “The New Arthritis Breakthrough” and seen first hand the amazing recoveries being credited to testing for and treatment of mycoplasmic infections. Oh Goodness No, is the heart of the response almost all of the time. And then they quote me the name of the prestigious hospital where they got their beloved diagnosis. I went to Mayo. I went to Sloan Kettering. But my doctor is at the University of Chicago and there I go again, I want to scream. But I have learned to stifle myself because they don’t care that the work I am referring to was done at Harvard and Dr. Brown was a doctor to Presidents of the United States from Eisenhower to Reagan. I am coming to the conclusion that for some bizarre reason folks also fall in love with the doctor who  gave them their  beloved diagnosis and the hospital where they got the “big news” is now a location akin to the site of a first date returned to each and every anniversary.

arthritis breakthrough

They have embarked on a love affair and I am about as likely to sway someone who is in the early stages of a love affair as I am to convince a dear friend that the gem she is dating is a jerk. She is not ready to see it yet; and tragically, by the time she is her life will likely be in such a state of mental, emotional and physical breakdown that she will possibly be beyond repair. At the very least she will be scarred, broken, diminished and harder to repair, renew, and restore. Sounds a lot like progressive and late stage disease, doesn’t it?

SPOUSAL SPOILER ALERT: There is no room in a healthy marriage or partnership for co-dependency or co-miserating about disease. If you love someone who has fallen  in love with their disease, make sure they know you are not going to play second fiddle to reversible infection and inflammation. Let ’em know they’re cheating on you and you won’t stand by silently supporting their love affair with a disease, instead of supporting them. Get really well educated and become their partner in wellness – it’s a challenging road too. Get well together and stay well together. And that goes for parents and friends too. 

And here is what I think has to change to get me to stop screaming. I think we fall in love with the wrong guy or gal because we don’t know deep in our soul that we ALWAYS deserve better than a withholding, abusive, controlling, toxic love. And I think we embrace the diagnosis of disease too quickly and completely because we don’t know deeply and soulfully just how amazing and responsive and miraculous our bodies are and how perfectly they are designed to heal from wise supplementation, food that is not toxic and movement that used to come naturally. And, of course, how much our bodies respond to the healing power of love. There are lots of books out there right now about inflammation, but I found this one to be particularly readable and important.

And so, once again, if you are suffering and I KNOW YOU ARE SUFFERING from RA or Lupus or Fibromyalgia or Cancer or any of the other forms of Arthritis and Inflammatory Diseases, I AM TRYING TO NOT SCREAM AT YOU to take this first step on the inspiring road to full recovery.  Start by reading one book. The book is called:

The New ARTHRITIS BREAKTHROUGH:  The Only Medical Therapy Clinically Proven to Produce Long-Term Improvement and Remission by Henry Scammell

It is a great and inspiring read. I have recommended it to untold numbers of people who have reached out to me. Some of them have actually read it and made the changes and are loving their new healthy lives free from these deadly and discouraging diseases. I encourage you to have someone read it with you if you are in pain and sick and trying to find your way. Take it to your doctor and tell him how it affected you to read the stories of folks who have recovered. If he has not read it, or read it and dismissed it, or is dismissing you for reading it, then get another doctor. It’s just like they say about love connections gone amiss: boys are like buses, if you didn’t catch this one, there is always another one coming along. Or something like that. You get the message. Don’t let anyone or anything get between you and your healthy body.


To quote my favorite Southern chef, Paula Deen, who makes all the foods I no longer eat, “Folks, I’m your cook, not your doctor.” That’s right, I am a blogger, not a doctor. But if I were facing any of these concerns I’d march in the door of my doctor’s office with a copy of this book and ask to be tested for:

MYCOPLASMA ANTIGEN AND ANTIBODY plus ASO (Strep) and Chlamydia through a special lab Dr. Brown started in Maryland called The Arthritis Research Center, Inc. (TARCI) http://www.tarci.net/

CAUTION: If you test positive, make sure your doc guides you through the work to clear Candida before you begin your antibiotic regimen.


Once again, a huge thank you to our brother, John, who has always been a huge source of inspiration and information when it comes to giving disease the boot. He gifted me this book years ago and it has served me well.



About the author:

Mary DugganMary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters.

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks.  We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring duggansisters.com to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

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14 Responses to “Disease Is A Lousy Lover”

  1. Melissa Banks says:

    Thanks, just passed along the blog post and the book to my mom, who has suffered from RA for many years.

  2. Jean Waters-Gariti says:

    Right on !!!

  3. Maureen Tuccillo Shull says:

    So true!

  4. Elizabeth Greabe Antony says:

    Right on!!

  5. Cari Zambrano says:

    Thanks for sharing this very useful info!! I am wondering if you have anything you could share with me about candida. My sister has been suffering with this for about the last year and half or so. She is losing weight(down to 98 lbs.), nauseous, anxiety. she has changed her diet to no carbs, sugar, only eating protiens and veggies. Has been to an endocrinologist waiting for blood results. Has been doing herbs and other holistic remedies. any info you could share would be greatly appreciated!!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Cari, I did my “candida work” years ago, including the awful Nystatin and when that did not work Diflucan, which really made me sick. I was working at that time with a doctor of integrative medicine, but again this was some 25 years ago. I feel sad to hear how miserable your sister is. I remember the die-off phase and it was not pretty. Recently I am intrigued by what Victoria Boutenko has to say about candida and you can read her stuff online. I also know there are real links between candida and the mycoplasmic infections that Scammell addresses, so definitely read the book with her and for her. Get the testing done to see if this is related. They tend to go together. But my best advice is to never put all of your eggs in one basket. Get a team of physicians involved from various disciplines (Naturopathic, Integrative MD, Chiropractic, TCM) so you get a breadth of information to assist you in the decision-making process. After working with an MD on Candida and making substantial headway but not balancing it out completely, I went to a Doctor of Chinese Medicine (TCM) here in Chicago, the famed Dr. Pak Lau and I did the rigorous and disgusting at times and time-consuming herbal tea treatment. It knocked the candida into alignment once and for all. I had been battered by antibiotics for years by a dermatologist who was an idiot and treated my acne for YEARS with Tetracycline and made a mess of my health and my life. So I had my work cut out for me. I utilized Dr. Crook’s books, including his recipe books, as well. It takes a village Cari to get well and stay well. And candida is an epidemic. It’s one of those conditions that I commonly assume we all are dealing with, even if we don’t know it. The misuse of antibiotics has just been that widespread. Hope some little bit of this helps. Encouragement to your sister and you, Mary

  6. Ashley in Texas says:

    Okay, I finally got to read it over my lunch break. And I want to tell you that like the well-bred southern woman I am, there were places that I wanted to jump up and shout, “Amen!” My mind is still processing it, and I will probably email a longer response, but my bottom line is, “Yes. Amen. This is it.” Well done, dear Mary, well done.

  7. Katina Vastlik says:

    Alternative medicine saved me and gave me control of my own medical outlook. These gals have the right idea.

  8. Beth says:

    I am so disappointed in this article. You make it sound as if people with chronic, systemic pain are weak, dependent, and basking in misery. I, like so many others I know with these, am NOT as you describe.
    I was diagnosed with a few auto-immune diseases, younger than normal. But unlike what you described above, I did not “fall in love” with my doctor nor my illnesses. In fact, I changed rheumatologists quite a few times (5 to be exact), not because I wanted them to indulge in my misery, but because I knew there Had to be more to relief that all the pills they were pushing at me. In the words of one dr: just take a painkiller everyday, it should be ok. NO. It is NOT ok. I refused to go down that path! So onto another Dr. He told me if I didn’t take the anti-depressants, he couldn’t help me anymore. Ok then, bye-bye, I am in no way depressed and have heard some first-hand horror-stories about them that I did not want that path either. Times that by 2 more and I finally found a Dr who understands chronic pain and we are trying new, non-invasive, non-drug ways to cope and treat.
    I am upset by your generalizations and dismissive attitude. Not everyone is as you describe. I do Not use my illness as an excuse. Ever. My husband is a gentle soul who loves me for my faults, diseases and all. He never looks at me as whining or as if I am cheating on him with my illness (what a terrible, hurtful thing to say!). Instead we recognize my limitations and work around them, loving and having fun all the way. Can you run a 26.2 mile marathon in 3 hours? Probably not. But you sure can walk it in 10 hours or so. THAT is recognizing the limitations. Why try and push yourself to do it in 3 hours when you know you can’t and get upset about it? No, instead, your partner, a truly good and loving one, will happily walk it because s/he is with you, despite how many days it takes you to finish.
    I’m trying to gently (unlike your harsh review of us above) to educate you on what the majority of people feel with chronic illnesses. Please change your view towards us as we are not the weak, annoying, attention-sucking little gnats you portray.

    • Clare says:

      Mary wrote a blog post in response to your comment. We published it just before taking a break for her 60th Birthday weekend. Please read for Mary’s response.

  9. Janet Moore says:

    “In love with my disease”?! Are you kidding me?! It is one thing to inform the public of a possible treatment, but to stoop so low as to say the rest of us LIKE being sick is absurd! Yes, I was glad to receive a diagnosis so my doctor and I could set a plan of treatment, but I do NOT wish to be ill! As far as milking my illness for sympathy or special consideration, most people do not even know I am ill. I keep it private and my pain is not to share with others except through support groups. I want NO one’s pity. I have raised 6 children, helped start a large animal shelter, and AFTER my diagnosis went back to work full time as a way to show this disease I will NOT roll over and let it take away my daily life. As well, my husband is not being “cheated” our of anything, I assure you of that! My doctor is not some “pharmaceutical pimp” as you so eloquently put it, nor am I a medical idiot but rather a Registered Nurse who is VERY pro-active in my treatment. Seems to me that YOU are the pimp here….Whoring out the book by Henry Scammell and the work of Dr. Brown. What’s your cut of the profit???? Hmmmm……

    • Clare says:

      Mary wrote a blog post in response to your comment. We published it just before taking a break for her 60th Birthday weekend. Please read for Mary’s response.

  10. Maria says:

    Dear Ms. Duggan: Your insensitivity in this article actually made me cry. I don’t love my UCTD diagnosis. In fact, I never, ever tell anyone that I was diagnosed with this 11 years ago (except for close friends and family). While I have not ever tried a diet that was totally composed of raw foods, I have tried being gluten free, eating organic only, cutting out meat, cutting out dairy, etc… and you know what? Eating healthy certainly made me feel better and increased my energy level but it did not cure me. Things like sun exposure and stress can still cause a flare, not because I’m doing something wrong, but because I have a disease. Shame on you for making people with chronic diseases feel like they’re making themselves sick. Perhaps some are, but of course, many, many are not. This awful article has the potential of pushing a depressed, chronically ill, pain-wracked person over the edge. I just don’t understand why you’d write it this way. If you genuinely cared about those of us who have chronic inflammation of some kind and really believe that you have “the answer” you would have demonstrated some sort of compassion in this article for heaven’s sake. Sadly, I think you’re out to sell your products and this book and you don’t really give a hoot about people who are sick. Even if I discovered your products could help, I would never buy them from you.

    • Clare says:

      Mary wrote a blog post in response to your comment. We published it just before taking a break for her 60th Birthday weekend. Please read for Mary’s response.

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