Terri Winslow spent so much of her life in excruciating pain that it became her normal.
The 38-year-old Council Bluffs, Iowa woman and H2W customer had suffered multiple broken bones and spent time in a coma after a drunk driver stuck her as she was walking across the street near her grandmother’s house. Winslow was only seven years old at the time.
“I had phantom pains for years,” she says. “I couldn’t go a day without pain.”
That physical suffering became worse as Winslow grew up, got married and tried to start a family. Doctors diagnosed her with rheumatoid arthritis when she was 26, two years after her son Zach was born. Winslow was a young mom trying to earn her college degree, work full-time, spend time with her husband and feel well enough to function – but often it felt impossible.
Winslow often couldn’t go to class because her joints were so stiff, swollen and painful. She couldn’t write or open a jar. Some days, she was bedridden.
“I was on a slew of medications and it seems like they would help a little bit, but the pain never totally went away,” Winslow says.
Eventually, Winslow’s doctor put her on a biologic, which is an injection treatment that suppresses a person’s immune system so that it cannot attack the joints and cause symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Winslow hates needles. She was grateful for the relief the injections brought, though, and decided to keep moving forward.
A few years later, Winslow and her husband decided to try for another baby. Winslow had to undergo fertility treatments because the injuries from her childhood accident made it difficult to conceive naturally and give birth.
“Zach was my miracle baby,” she says, “all natural conception.” He had been born via C-section because Winslow’s pelvis had been broken in the childhood accident.
The fertility treatments didn’t take. Eventually, a discouraged Winslow and her husband gave up, deciding to focus on the child they had.
In 2013, however, more children were brought into the couple’s life unexpectedly when Winslow was given custody of her nephew after state child welfare officials took him away from her drug-addicted brother and sister-in-law. A second child, a little girl, was later placed with Winslow and her husband.
The children were bounced back and forth by the state between the Winslows and their parents. It was, in Winslow’s words, “a really traumatic experience to have to deal with over and over again.”
The years went on, bringing more heartache and stress with them. In 2015, Winslow’s husband found a lump in one of her breasts. It was cancer.
Soon after her diagnosis, Winslow lost custody of her brother’s children again. By that time, her brother had a third child. In a way, the children being removed allowed Winslow to focus on undergoing life-saving chemotherapy treatments.
“I think God was kind of looking out for me,” Winslow says. “It was like he took them so I could do chemo.”
Winslow had a double mastectomy and underwent chemo until July 2016. Around that time, her brother failed a final drug test – and all three children tested positive for methamphetamine. They were taken away from their biological parents for good.
On National Adoption Day 2017, the Winslows finalized the adoption of all three kids – Cameron, Corina and Hunter.
In the midst of the stress over the children and the cancer treatments, Winslow spoke to a friend who was living a holistic, organic lifestyle. The friend began to research ways food could help ease the symptoms of both rheumatoid arthritis and breast cancer. “It was about what I could do to better myself and build my immune system through nutrition,” Winslow says.
Winslow began juicing and cleaned up her diet. She immediately began feeling better and eventually, she stopped taking the biologic injections that had been treating the RA. She is living today cancer-free – and free of pain and stress most days.
“I didn’t realize how much food was such a big part of it,” Winslow says. “My friend showed me so much about food and nutrition and hormones. During those fertility treatments and biological injections for the RA – it all added up. I ended up with a toxic body.”
Winslow recently joined a gym and is working on getting in shape. Despite her hardships and illnesses, she believes nutrition has allowed her to from now on live a healthier life than she ever thought possible.
“It’s been crazy how much I learned about food and nutrition and how you have to take care of yourself,” she says. “My doctor said I would never be able to come off the injections. They said there was no reversing it and no cure.”
Adds Winslow: “They were full of shit.”
People are astounded by Winslow’s story. She is an H2W Woman – happy, healthy and whole.
“I know I can do this long-term,” she says. “I can make this work. I didn’t tell a lot of people at first and now I’m like, “Guess what I did?’ I’m here and living a great life.”