Personal Story: Christina Pirello, And Now for Something Completely Different

The Physicians Committee


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Personal Story: Christina Pirello, And Now for Something Completely Different

I had a great, interesting childhood which laid the groundwork for my grand rebirth. My mother was one in a million but ahead of her time is what I remember most about her…and her passion for good food and fitness. My mother birthed four children, and until she died (at the ripe young age of 49), she had the figure of a 1940s pin-up girl. My mother worked at keeping her figure…and instilled that ideal in us. However, she also loved sugar and instilled that love in me. And since I didn’t inherit a quick metabolism, I was always on the hearty side, even though I worked out and was athletic all through my young life.

My mother would pile us in the car and head off to find the best vegetables and fruit she could manage. She loved to cook and to nourish.

Of course, you may be wondering why she died so young if she was so committed to health. Dinner was interesting at our house. Everyone ate, except my mother. She would sit at her place, coffee cup steaming, cigarette in hand, and pick at her food…unless it was chocolate or some other form of sweet treat. You could also guarantee that she would dig into pizza, lasagna, or manicotti, but all the vegetables she insisted we eat?

She saw no need to practice what she preached. By the time she died, I had been a vegetarian for more than 10 years, worked as a chef, and ate more junk food than I did fresh food. Snicker Bars, diet soda, ice cream, pizza…none of them included meat, so I chowed down. Her death was also mine. I left behind everything I knew for a fresh start.

Within six months of my mother’s death, I was diagnosed with AML, an acute form of leukemia, and the prognosis did not look promising. A dear friend of mine sat me down and said, “So you’re giving up without a fight?” I thought, “Give me a break…” He said, “You have to meet this guy.” He told me his buddy eats grains, veggies, and beans. I thought, “Whatever.”

But I agreed to meet Robert Pirello, who introduced me to macrobiotics. While my doctors were not offering much hope, this man was. He convinced me that I had a future if only I would rethink everything I thought I knew about food. And so my adventure with vegan macrobiotics began.

We emptied my cupboards and loaded them up with new foods. Robert gave me a few quick lessons, and I was off…cooking my way back to health.

It took a year and a half to regain my health and there were lots and lots and LOTS of ups and downs. With my doctors agreeing to monitor my blood regularly, it was about two months before they saw any improvement. When asked what I was doing, I told them that I had changed my diet and was eating whole grains, beans, and vegetables, no sugar and no junk food. They called my improved health spontaneous regression and had no answer, but said that whatever I was doing, do it, because something was changing.

It was a long year and a half, but after that period, my blood tests showed no sign of cancer and haven’t since. And what I’ve discovered since then about the power of food in the body is what drives me in my passion every day.

With our food as a tool, we can change our personal health, our family’s health, and ultimately change the world. It may sound like a tall order for broccoli, but what do you have to lose? Nothing, but you have everything to gain…your health.