#BETHEPROOF: How Coffee Literally Saved My Life
I’m a coffee addict. It’s just a simple truth. I have an awe-inspiring story about coffee, too. Coffee saved my life.
I’ll get to that part, but it’s important to understand that I simply love coffee. The art of it. The taste. The caffeine. The habit that becomes a hobby. I still don’t notice the “hints of fairy dust mixed with ginger and peppercorn” tasting notes that coffee bean bags like to boast. But I can decipher a fruity roast from a darker roast, for what it’s worth.
In fact, about eight years ago I even started using a hashtag to go along with my goofy social media barista blend selfies: #SultryPosesWithCoffee. Sometimes I’d get a few friends to play along. And since the COVID battle-down in 2020, I restarted the hashtag with a vengeance. At the very least, it’s an easy excuse to put on some lipstick and sometimes even brush my hair.
The butter-in-my-coffee girl
There is a fantastic and bizarre turn to my story, which is probably what makes my take a bit more interesting. Over the last decade or so, I transitioned from drinking sweet, mocha frappes to hardcore coffee snob.
It started with an increased interest in fitness and diet (vegan/paleo/keto/normal over and back again) in my early 30s. As I began to embrace the paleo diet (thanks, Twitter!), Bulletproof Coffee was my next step. I liked it immediately and was a champion of the art before it was particularly known, back when friends and family thought I was that girl.
Wait… Did you just say that you put BUTTER in your COFFEE?
In fact, it was my morning breakfast and “energy juice.” It got me to my late afternoon lunch break without succumbing to hungry snack attacks!
A turn of events
But when I was 35, I started to have major fatigue issues. I still worked out all the time—walking, weightlifting, CrossFit, running—but I was getting forgetful and tired.
On one particular day in July 2016, I woke up, had a coffee, ran a mile to my gym, did my strength training workout (barbells forever!), finished with my cool-down and walk home… Then, I was off to work. When I took a walk on my lunch break, I stopped at my then-favorite downtown Detroit coffee shop to chat with the baristas while enjoying a cappuccino splurge.
But, suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt nauseous and dizzy. I never felt this way and it spooked me. So, I put my head down.
The next thing I knew, I slowly awakened from an unconscious state. EMS was asking me questions. Someone’s T-shirt was resting under my head as a pillow. The coffee shop customers and baristas continued their work around me as if nothing was amiss. It was all very bizarre to me.
My initial feeling was one of mortification. I assumed it was too much caffeine on an otherwise empty stomach that caused my embarrassing public faint. I wanted to get up and go right back to work immediately. I had no idea how much time had passed and it was likely I’d easily taken a very extended lunch break. The EMS recommended I call my officemates because they wanted to take me to the emergency room. They believed, due to witness observations, that I’d either had a stroke or a seizure, in addition to a concussion.
I laughed. I was young, otherwise healthy, and generally fine. There was no way on God’s green earth I had a stroke or a seizure. I was fine! If LOL was a feeling? It would have been mine…
Tests, tests and more tests
It was a five-minute ambulance ride to the nearest hospital. I had a lot of tests that I don’t remember well. CT scans, tests and more tests as I drifted in and out of awareness. My boyfriend stayed with me most of that day. At one point, a small doctor asked me to kick, so I kicked—I kicked her right to the floor! (Thank you, strength training…)
The key moment was when a very somber ER doctor came to me and told me I had to stay at the hospital because one of the tests showed a brain tumor in my left temporal lobe. They ordered an MRI that night to see if I needed emergency surgery. Turns out, it appeared to be a slow-mover and I went home later the following day, but needed to schedule surgery soon.
Coffee, bless you
Remember when I said coffee saved my life? IT DID. If I had not had a very public seizure, I never would have known anything was wrong. In retrospect, now that I know, there were lots of signs (the faints were not faints, they were seizures; there were behavior changes and memory and speaking issues)—but they were subtle, slow-moving signs. No headaches, no pain, nothing the average person would ever read as “brain tumor.”
So, a few months later, after a neuropsych evaluation and a WADA test (Google it—it’s terrifying and cool), I had my craniotomy. They opened my skull and took out as much of the tumor as they safely could. (You see, my tumor has tendrils—there is no complete resection, not really. To remove it “all” would be removing key components of my personhood). I recovered quickly and the results of the tumor biopsy were to follow in the next 10-14 days.
That’s when the world shook. I got the call. My diagnosis. My naïve assumption from the start was that I had a benign brain tumor. That they would remove it and I would be fine. That naivete made going through the process of healing post-surgery, well, easy.
But, I’ll never forget that call. The kindest, gentlest voice was my new doctor—a neuro-oncologist—and he had the difficult job of telling me that I did, in fact, have cancer. A Grade III Anaplastic Astrocytoma. Brain cancer. Me. Cancer. I was so flustered I asked him if I could call him back. He told me I was free to come in and he would explain my diagnosis and next steps. I said yes to the meeting and hung up the phone.
Then, I stood on my front porch and screamed.
Yup, I screamed.
That was probably the worst day of my life. I then had max radiation and a year of chemo—and that wasn’t nearly as tough as the diagnosis. But, overall, I am lucky.
Holding out hope
Today, I am not in remission or NED (No Evidence of Disease). Those aren’t really words that go with my type of brain cancer. I am stable. And, stable is good. My cancer type is a lower-grade version of Glioblastoma (GBM), the type of cancer Beau Biden and John McCain had. I have the same type of cells, mine are just a junior version—slower moving. Mine is likely to make an encore performance, or two or three. If I’m lucky, it will just come back as Anaplastic Astrocytoma again. If it powers up, it will come back as GBM.
But, to make a long story short, I’ve decided to give both keto and paleo protocols a go. At best, maybe this is a helper. Maybe it fades the flair from future MRIs. Maybe it will buy me time. Maybe I’ll be able to cut down on or get rid of my seizure meds entirely. With the help of my hospital and medical team (and regular bloodwork and pokes), I’m factoring in a diet that aligns with my fitness goals, and can help me undo the not-so-positive gains I endured from steroids during treatment.
More opportunity, more #SultryPosesWithCoffee
Now, back to my beloved coffee… There’s no chance I’m ending #SultryPosesWithCoffee any time soon. If anything, I’ll up my game. I’ll be doing some while intermittent fasting with black coffee (Bulletproof beans!). Or, maybe my favorite buttery Bulletproof coffee! (Prepare yourself for #SultryPosesWithBulletproofCoffee!)
What I’ve learned is that life is full of unique opportunities. We can’t always control outcomes. We can’t control the things that happen to us. However, I’ve come to find out that we can control how we embrace those challenges.
We aren’t Bulletproof because we have the fanciest gear, mutant stoicism and perfectly healthy lives. But, we do learn exactly how to #BETHEPROOF because we embrace life as it is, in the present. To live life so fully that, by the end, we have nothing left—absolutely no wasted moments in time.
Want to read more about how Bulletproof products help everyday people #BETHEPROOF? Follow @bulletproof on social media and keep up with our blog for more inspiring stories from Bulletproof consumers just like you.
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The guest author of this blog was compensated for endorsement.