Archive for May, 2013

A Chicago Institution Embraces Gluten-Free

Friday, May 31st, 2013

By Mary Duggan

MaryDuggan_holds glasses

My dear Mother would have said, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Because when a member of the famed Chicago restaurant family Berghoff gets diagnosed with Celiac Disease, the whole city gets healed. I would not wish Celiac on anyone, let alone Sarah Berghoff McClure, the petite, 12-year-old daughter of Carlyn Berghoff of restaurant family fame. But sick she was and diagnosed she got – with Celiac Disease.

And here’s where the story gets heart-warming and heart-healthy for their family and yours. The whole family got on board with the transition, especially her Mom, and the end result is a healthy Sarah and a wonderful cookbook entitled Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen.”

berghoff mom and sarah

The Berghoff McClure family has used their personal health challenge to help heal the Chicago restaurant scene and teenagers EVERYWHERE!

Eve Becker of the Tribune reports, “At home, Berghoff cooks entirely gluten-free for her husband and three kids. She also has trained the staff at The Berghoff Restaurant how to prepare gluten-free requests safely.”

So, I am off to do three things. (more…)


Disease Is A Lousy Lover

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

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 (more…)


Angelina Jolie Has Inspired Me

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

By Mary Duggan

There are two gallons of urine in my fridge and I couldn’t be happier. I think you might want to gather some in your fridge as well.

urine side by side pee

Here’s why.

Angelina Jolie has folks talking about breast cancer, fear and powerlessness. So I figured it was a good time for me to make an important move towards breast health and empowerment in my own life. Jolie opted for a preventive double mastectomy in response to BRCA1 genetic testing that revealed her to be strongly predisposed to breast cancer. Her story has been front and center in the news this past week. While some folks heralded Jolie’s choice as heroic, I have to admit to being pretty much horrified by the news. I have heard about this option being taken before from folks not at all famous. I was horrified then, as well. All week I have scoured the press, looking for someone saying something wonderful in response. I couldn’t find it; so here is what I have to contribute to the conversation.

But first, my “credentials.” I have all sorts of markers for Breast Cancer, though I have never opted for the BRCA1 test. I can’t imagine that I ever will. Here is a test I have opted to take instead.

urine brown box

This little brown box is my contribution to the story. Annie and I left our doctor’s office weeks ago each toting our 24 Hour Urinary Iodine Loading Test Kits – WHEW. Each kit cost $120 and comes in the box shown above. Of course we carried them home, popped them onto the floor of the pantry and meant to get back to them but didn’t. Peeing in a cup every time you pee for 24 hours is a pain in the neck. A hassle. An easy task to put off. Gentlemen really, for ladies it is more of a hassle than it is for you.

More importantly, I had put it off  for years and that is crazy. More or less crazy than how Jolie is handling her breast health is the issue here. Here’s why. You all know Jolie’s story by now. Here is a bit of mine. My mother had both breast and uterine cancer. My Dad as well had cancer. Like Jolie, divorce left him less present in my life so I am clearer on my Mom’s genetic gifts to me. I have a preponderance of “markers” for breast cancer that I am keenly aware of without BRCA1 testing.

  • I am Caucasian.
  • I am overweight.
  • I am inactive.
  • I have never had a child.
  • I have never breast-fed a child.
  • I began to menstruate early.
  • I arrived late to menopause.
  • I have large breasts.
  • I have a family history of cancer on both sides of my family. Okay, I think that’s enough for now.
urine vials

Shake your 24 hour collection of pee, fill a vial with a sample and mail. How easy is that?

You would think I would be crazy scared to death of cancer, wouldn’t you? Well, I am not; and here’s why. I am keenly aware that I live in a different world than my parents did and I handle all of my health concerns differently as well.

I am exposed each and every day to chemical pollution that my ancestors could not have imagined. And so I invested in a Far Infrared Sauna. It deals very effectively with that. It costs far less than BRCA testing and it protects more than just my breast and uterus. And I can share it with others. I take LOTS of other precautions, as well.

My parents took antibiotics, and other prescription medications whenever their docs told them to. I  take a more preventive approach and radically limit my participation in the pharmaceutical industry that my parents used freely and without fear. Instead I work conscientiously with my physician to utilize testing and supplementation to build up my body and assist it in warding off disease and malfunction.

When thyroid disease reared its ugly head in my Mother’s young life, she agreed to removal with radiation and a lifetime regimen of the proven ineffective drug- Synthroid. I watched my sisters go unsuccessfully down the Synthroid road in the treatment of their hypothyroidism.  When I got slammed with severe Grave’s Disease (hyperthyroidism) I paid close attention to the Broda Barnes Protocol from the University of Chicago and went down the natural Armour Thyroid path instead. The program has been wildly successful for me and my sisters with hypothyroidism. Endless thanks to our brother John for bringing it into our health consciousness and our lives.

I have addressed my spinal issues, including a profound brain injury and debilitating stenosis, through the use of drugless therapies like chiropractic, acupuncture, cranial sacral adjustments and more. My mother came late to chiropractic and only used it sporadically. Watching her body bend under the pain and debilitation of spinal stenosis was heartbreaking. And because I have inherited it from her – scary. I have days when I still curse its omnipresence in my life; but I believe that yoga and cranial sacral chiropractic with acupuncture will at least keep it at bay longer than my mother’s back braces did for her.

When I suffered a profound hearing loss as a young woman, I put hearing aids on hold and headed out for a consultation with a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It worked beautifully and my hearing was fully restored. Who’d a thunk sick kidneys could bring on hearing loss.

You get the picture. I view my body, disease, doctors, health, wellness, ALL OF IT, in a radically different manner than my genetic precedents. I have a colonic every time cash and time allow. I especially make sure to do a few when I am doing a significant cleanse. Oh yeah, I do regular cleanses and I make sure they cross disciplinary lines: one time a homeopathic cleanse – next time a naturopathic cleanse – next time a vegetable juice cleanse – next time 100% raw for 22 months – next time a 3-day-fast. I am trying my best.

Now, back to the little brown box.  Why is collecting a gallon of urine part of my breast health regimen? Science. This is a 24-hour urine iodine test designed to measure the amount of iodine retained by my body, thereby showing my body’s iodine status. Connection to breast cancer? You have to read the book. I did years ago and then overwhelmed with all sorts of other things I was doing for my health, it fell to the wayside. But I am a listener and I do believe in the power of three. When a topic of importance is brought to my attention three times in rapid fire succession, I listen. Within about a week, I had more than three folks very well-versed in the field of alternative and preventive medicine say the word is in and the word is iodine.

urine mailer box

How could I have taken so long to do this test? In the mail it goes for Mary and Annie. Clare, we have saved you some room in the fridge.

The book is IODINE: Why You Need It Why You Can’t Live Without It by David Brownstein, M.D.

Not going to read it? That’s okay, kind of. Here’s is my VERY short opine on why I think you need to bring this to your doctor and get tested. Iodine has been strongly linked to breast cancer and all sorts of other modern maladies. I live in the “Goiter Belt” and I just love to say that. Okay, us folks in the Midwest who are not getting all the wonderful salty side effects of close to the ocean life need to look at iodine.  But seriously and this is oh-so-serious, get the book and let’s all read it together and discuss it and then let’s do something about it. Here’s why. And here’s my problem with something Angelina Jolie said.

Jolie states in her NY Times Op Ed that “…there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer.” And I am sorry but that statement seems absurd to me. I never meet women who aren’t afraid of cancer. Never. And I think fear has to be reduced and healthy choices have to be enhanced. Not surgery and reconstruction. Healthy choices. Like taking the correct form of iodine to heal our breasts.

I am trying to be fair here, and I know Jolie is referring to folks with a strong genetic predisposition. But I think nonetheless that we have to get a serious grip. The National Cancer Institute tells us that about 12% of all women will develop breast cancer sometime in their life. Take that in. Of that 12%, 3 to 5% have BRCA abnormalities. Take that in. The numbers that Jolie was quoting were from studies done in the mid-1990s that have since been revised – downward. Okay? Let’s breathe and concentrate on tests and steps to restore health. Powerful, right?

Jolie goes on to say, “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.” But what about that fear? Fear can be informative and powerful if channeled properly. For example, if I get my breast tissue removed, can’t the body just create the cancer somewhere else? And what about that powerlessness? Is wildly expensive, not always covered by insurance and extremely painful surgery really the powerful move to make? Other women with voices who have made the same choice as Jolie have contested Jolie’s portrayal of the surgery and recovery. Check out the bloggers.

I have a different idea. A different definition entirely about what it is to be powerful. Let’s get testing that shows us what’s missing in our diets and then let’s make changes. Let’s explore ways to heal our bodies with supplementation and cleansing and exercise and protect our entire body from cancer. There is so much more to be done than just surgical mutilation. And for me, so profoundly genetically pre-disposed, mutilation is the correct word. I remember my mother’s breasts: before and after the surgeon’s skills. But I also remember all the other choices and information that went into her health decision. Too much of women’s health is still mutilation. Enough already. Let’s gather our pee, while we may.

urine angled pee

Collecting our urine was not scary or expensive. It felt POWERFUL!

You know I will be back with the results. And I will, at that time, explore just a bit more about the role of flouride and bromide and why we need to know these words and how they put our breasts and our health at risk. I am dying to know what my urine had to say about the flouride and bromide levels in my body. Well, dying is the wrong word. I am living to know. I hope you are too. Let’s all pee in a cup right now while Angelina Jolie has breast health in the forefront of the cancer conversation.


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 to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

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A Service Dog is never OUT OF SERVICE

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Chester 120628 Looking up the stairsBy Mary Duggan

I am deeply touched by folks who meet us in public and inquire after Chester, my service dog. I see the look of disappointment on their faces when they realize he is not with me. Then I see the look of real pain when I update them on his recovery and tell them just bits of what he has been through this past year.

I don’t know if Chester will ever again be able to take on his big job of assisting me through the neurological challenges of my life with a TBI. My sisters are always determined that his working life will be fully restored (more…)


Tickling Mr. Wonderful!

Friday, May 10th, 2013

By Mary Duggan

Okay, Facebook followers you guessed it. We took the big leap and participated in the Shark Tank casting call held yesterday at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. And the word for today is EXHAUSTED! Imagine standing in the middle of all those dreams and all that excitement and all that fear and even some desperation.  And that was just the three of us!


The rain held off and the air was scented with flowering trees. Check out our beautiful city in the background.

The warnings had been stern from Shark Tank that (more…)