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How can I help my friend?

Ok, this is going to be a LONG explanation, but I really don’t know what else to do. Six months ago, I met Sam (age 44)when I started working at a dry cleaners. She had just sold the store to my current boss. Right from the start, she was complaining about pains, feeling “hot” and various other problems, including a change in her vision. I started taking her to all kinds of doctors until finally they found a brain tumor. She had surgery 4 months ago and is on all kinds of medications. Now, the reason why I’m worried is because after moving in with her just recently, its become obvious why shes so sick. She has a completely sedentary life, spends the entire day on the couch watching tv because of the pain. She takes medication for it, and eats the same thing everyday: ramen noodles with white rice, beef and seaweed (shes korean). My theory is that working at the cleaners from 7am-7pm 6 days a week for 8 years, doing no physical activity, and having a very nutrient-void diet is making her sick. Her body is completely out of balance, and I know that if she started to change some things, she would start feeling better and be able to stop taking so many medications.

But how do I tell her, hey Sam, you need to stop eating junk, eat more fruits and vegetables and get out of the apartment (she must have a vitamin D deficiency)? I’ve already suggested she do some yoga and go for walks, but she didn’t listen. I also told her she needed to get more nutrients, but she figured taking vitamins and “trace minerals” (like her doctor told her!) is good enough.

What completely nerves me, is her doctors. They don’t explain to her WHY she’s sick, they just give her pills and send her on her way. She has no idea what’s wrong, and yet she follows doctors advice religiously.

Sigh… I wish I could just put her on a diet and exercise program, but I want her to come to her own conclusions too. How do I encourage her without pushing her?

PS. I tried giving her a book but she can’t see very well, the tumor combined with super high blood pressure have permanently damaged her eyes.


  • deborahanndeborahann Raw Newbie

    Unfortuneately it has to be Sam who wants to change. Don’t badger- you’ve already told her once how some diet changes and some exercise would help. The more you push, the more she is likely to resist. The best thing you can do is to set an excellent example. Sometimes seeing another person blossom with exercise and nutrition will encourage positive changes. It is the hardest thing in the world to watch someone we care for abuse their body, but you have done your part. If she shows any interest at all in the book(s), you could read it to her. When you are online in the forums and there is an inspiring story, read her the post. Maybe seeing or hearing about other people’s successes will inspire her. If possible keep the junk food around the house down to a minimum and keep the snacks healthy. Keep some raw treats around. Maybe she’ll come around! Best of luck

  • Like most of us in this country, I’m surrounded by sick people—diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, knee replacement, allergies, insomnia and cancer. And those are examples from my own family. The only thing I have found that works is to really try to teach by example. Eating well and exercising and letting them see the results in me has led a couple of people to ask what I’m doing and to try some of it. People have the freedom to be ignorant (in the classic sense of the word) and unhealthy, if they so choose.

    From my experience, we hear only what we want to hear, until something moves in us and opens our minds. That movement is caused by different things, depending on our circumstances in life. I still have diabetics in my family who eat chocolate cake for breakfast. Do you really think they don’t know they shouldn’t be eating it?

    Encourage her by inviting her for walks, or to share a healthy meal you’ve prepared, or to free talks and demos on health/diet/fitness. Surprise her with some yummy fruit you picked up on sale, or even a Raw treat. You’re obviously a good friend. That support is its own kind of nutrient as well.

  • Maybe make her more nutritious food from time to time? Or take walks outside with her? Trying to be covert about it is key, I think. It is a bit extreme but even the tv “magically” breaking. As in, do something to it that won’t break it but it won’t turn on / won’t play the channels. Like maybe unplug it and plug in something else so it looks like its still plugged in. I don’t know about there but at my house we tend to have many things plugged in, like cable box, TV, maybe a sound thing, video game system, DVD player, etc. Usually, unless you really get in there to see the problem, you won’t notice that something isn’t plugged in right.

    Of course that is also really horrible to sabotage like that lol. But desperate times call for desperate measures… I know I wish I could unplug all the TVs in my house…

    Honestly, though, you can’t change someone who doesn’t want / isn’t read for it. She clearly wants to be better, but she’s letting other people do it for her. Maybe you could try explaining to her that he has to take control of HER OWN life and seek her own ways to be healthy, not to just listen to whatever the doctors say. Its her life, HER body, and she should know whats best for it. Ask her: What could you be doing RIGHT NOW, everyday, to make you just a little healthier? It doesn’t have to be hard, just ANYTHING. You could maybe tell her that if she had a healthy lifestyle, then she would also have a healthy body and wouldn’t have to waste time and money with doctors and medicine.

    Maybe suggest going on a diet with her? Sometimes I know girls who get excited about stuff like that. Like saying I’ll go on a diet / exercise program with them, they get all fired up. And then doing it together will keep them on track. But like I said, she has to want to be healthier. Of course, you could remind her that, if she ever complains about being sick, that its her own fault. Its cruel, yes, but true. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. Of course, most people don’t agree with that view. They think disease is something out there that gets into them, not something they could ever do to themselves.

    You say her doctors never explain to her why she is sick… maybe ask her; Why are you sick? Why does SHE think she is sick? And maybe then find an opportunity for you to tell her why you think she’s sick.

    These are just a lot of random suggestions, I know, but I’m hoping you’ll find something that works for your situation. Its so upsetting to see people do this to themselves. I’ve seen enough people I’ve loved pass on when I don’t believe they needed to… and I’m really fed up with this world and how it works. Not just the way of modern medicine, but also how processed food is even ALLOWED to be made… so wasteful, so hurtful, so disgusting!

    You know… I’m gonna stop myself now before this turns into a rant. I really hope I at least sparked an idea so that you can help your friend. Good luck!!!

  • ZoeZoe Raw Newbie

    People have given you some great advice here…I think she must be really unhappy, if she is just sat on the couch watching TV eating junk, I think the key may lie in cheering her up, helping her to learn how to have fun. Doing daft stuff like giving each other makeovers, playing games, giving each other dares, going out and climbing trees etc. Maybe if she refuses just invite some fun loving girlfriends round and take over the apartment with sillyness for an evening. There’s something about having a laugh and acting daft which breaks down barriers and builds the type of bond which is needed in order to break out of these terribly destructive habits.

    Like other people have already said, probably the best thing you can do is be a successful raw foodist and healthy person. It can’t fail but rub off on her.

  • Thanks alot for the replies, I kind of knew that I can’t really make her be healthy if its not what she really wants… but I’m just so stubborn. I think I forgot to mention the huge age difference between us, she’s old enough to be my mother (44) and we have a really unusual friendship. I basically take care of things that she can’t do anymore, like go grocery shopping, mail out bills, pick up her medicine, etc. The thing about Sam is that she’s completely alone, she’s got no kids, husband, family, friend, nothing! I just thing how horrible it must be to be sick and alone. She can’t stay like this, she does need to get a better and start working again or she won’t survive. I’m just hoping she realizes this before its too late.

    Katie – I found your advice really amusing. Unplugging the TV is a good idea. Actually, you said something that really makes sense. I SHOULD ask her why she thinks she’s sick. That would get her to think of her illnesses in a completely different perspective. That maybe she ISNT the victim and that she controls her health.

    Sigh…. its so weird living with someone who’s surrendered themselves to sickness. I’ve always been pretty introverted and only cooked for myself (being raw vegan kind of does that :P) But maybe I’ll start making enough food for two.

    thanks for all the advice.

  • Hi, yes I agree people have to decide they want to make some changes but also many people need a jump start or a kick in the butt:-) No, I think there is always some deeper emotional stuff going on underneath of anyone who is sick and sort of stuck in being sick. Maybe you can find an energy healer, someone who does chakra balancing, cranial sacral work, and also adds a little of the tapping into whats really going on or encourages them to open up, to cry, whatever. Many times this is what people need, to unload a burden they have been carrying around, or to be heard. If you don’t know someone you could ask around for referrals. Hopefully you can give her a gift certificate or if she has a bday or something coming up ask co-workers to help with the cost.

    Good intentions in the spirit of love can’t hurt!

  • Odalys I think you have the key to her unhappiness and you don’t even know it.. You said she has no family, no children or husband, and she’s Korean. I have older friends who are Japanese, Taiwanese, and Malaisian. I’ve also met a few Koreans and I can tell you it is the culutre there (in the Asias) to be very much about the family. ESPECIALLY if you’re a woman. Her lack of family may just be the cornerstone of her current situation. And also the reason why she seems to have given up on things (like her health). It’s hard for a typical American to be alone but if she was born and raised in Korea or into a family directly from there she may be feeling like a failure and very left out.

    So here’s my advice try to make her feel needed a bit (kind of be a surrogent family member for her). And ask her about her life and tell her about yours, it does wonders to really get to know someone like that.. I agree with the suggestions of making her some raw treats and dishes.. You can find some really nice recipes here (think Asia foods since she seems to like ramen noodles and rice – things that she probably grew up with) also try to change the look and feel of the house/apt a bit.. Fresh or fake flowers in a nice vase, a new picture, some new throw pillows for the couch… the possibilities are endless but try to make the place feel more happy and inviting. Bright colors are very uplifting and mood enhancing (just what she needs). Try to start a “Girls day” with her.. it can be simple things to begin with like offering to paint her nails or rent a movie and watch it together and then build on that like going for walks at the mall or park.

    I think the reason she’s so devoted to following what the doctors say is because even though they aren’t doing the best for her (well you and I know that) they are making her feel like they care for her. Also it can be very overwhelming to learn you have a tumor, and she’s got a serious one at that, so she may be feeling lost and doesn’t know what else to do. You might do a little research about healing foods and anti-cancer foods and or medicinal herbs/minerals/supplements and encourage her to take them in addition to the pills (to start). See how she’s feeling in a month or so and then slowly and gently try to encourage her to start caring for herself instead of putting all the effort on the docs and their medicines.

    The biggest thing of all is be a good friend! Be there for her and stay supportive of her through this. Keep being a positive image in her life (it’s more valuable than you think) and it is sure to influence her. Also take time to do things for yourself and maybe it will encourage her to do the same, especially when she sees how happy you can make yourself!

    Good luck with this and stay positive that things will change for the better!! Positive in = positive out! Take care K-Mom

  • Odalys, just wanted to offer a simple insight. Two years ago I was in the hospital for mutliple problems starting with a severe astham attack that took the doctors 2 weeks and many drugs, steriods and more to control. Then as soon as I reached a level of breathing and other vital signs they liked they send me out into the world without even one bit of concern or thought as to why I got into that position. I was stunned. I kept asking (there were 3 diff doctors, each a speciality no one who knew the whole story) each one why, what could I do to avoid a repeat and they all only said take this (whatever drug they prescribed.) So out of the hospital I go. I had been similarly working 12-14 hours a day for 15 years, no exercise, sad diet. I had no idea why this had happened. But I wanted to understand and started reading books. It took me a year to stumble upon this raw vegan diet, and wow it did solve everything. I have stopped all medications, feel great everyday, exercise, sleep better, everything. So anyway, I know that I would have never listened to anyone, I had to want to find this for myself. I even tell my friends all the time how great this all is, and they just look at me and smile. So I guess I have no good advice, just be a positive example and keep telling her about all your good experiences. Good luck.

  • I just want to say – wow! – you guys are really amazing. So much love and support and kindness, I’ve had a really bad day today and was feeling rather down, but just reading all the love here has really picked me up. Thanks! You’ve written such good and gentle and nice things, and it’s nice to know people like you exist in the world.

    My only suggestion in addition to the many great suggestions here is to join a meditation class. It has done wonders for just about everyone I know who has given it go.

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