Meet Natalie Cooper, a woman on a mission to empower you to take your healing – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual – into your own hands.
As a self-healer, living fully- medication and symptom-free, with chronic autoimmune diseases (Crohn’s & Multiple Sclerosis), Natalie believes in the power of mindfulness, intention and self-care to create the health, happiness and experiences you desire in your life.
Natalie started ‘Mind Your Own’ to share her experiences while navigating her path to wellness and to show you that anything is possible when you live mindfully.
Natalie’s healing journey has led her to experience practices that have been instrumental in strengthening her belief in the power of mindfulness. She feels her purpose is to share her experiences with others who are interested in becoming active participants in their healing. Natalie is a certified Meditation Instructor, EFT Instructor, Reiki Practitioner, Labour Doula and Childbirth Educator.
Natalie is a beautiful soul with so much wisdom to share. Enjoy learning about her here!
How were you diagnosed with Crohn's and MS?
My diagnosis with Crohn’s came after a colonoscopy revealed patchiness and inflammation throughout my colon. I was living in Sydney Australia on a working holiday visa at the time, so it was a big shock. Two days after beginning medication (Pentasa), I experienced acute appendicitis and had to have surgery to remove my appendix - double whammy!
I was diagnosed with MS after an MRI showed two lesions on my brain and one on my the C2 vertebrae of my spine.
What types of symptoms were you presenting that made you seek a diagnosis for your Crohn's?
I had been living and working in Sydney Australia for over two years before my diagnosis and my lifestyle was far from healthy. I like to think of this phase as my ‘Neverland’ chapter; I was drinking too much, eating a poor diet and even smoking cigarettes on occasion. I was having a lot of fun, but my health was suffering. I started to experience changes in my digestion and bowel movements; specifically cramping before a bowel movement, and softer stools that were no longer formed. I ignored my symptoms for as long as I could, but when I started to experience urgency, I sought help from some of the doctors I was friendly with at the hospital in Sydney where I was working as a Research Coordinator. Because I worked closely with many doctors and professors at the hospital, I was ushered through the testing process quite quickly and scheduled for an ultrasound within days of expressing my concern. The ultrasound came back completely normal and I was told I likely had IBS and that I should try the elimination diet. I didn’t take this advice. After another month of worsening symptoms, I raised my concerns to another physician, and she mentioned that her husband was a private Gastroenterologist and could squeeze me in for a colonoscopy the following week. That colonoscopy showed inflammation throughout my colon, and lead to my diagnosis of Crohn’s.
Do you avoid any foods to help manage your symptoms?
I follow the Wahl’s Protocol for symptom management. This Paleolithic protocol consists of removing dairy and gluten from your diet and adding three cups of leafy green vegetables, three cups of sulfur-rich vegetables and three cups of colourful fruits and vegetables into your diet each day, plus 12oz of grass-fed meat!
Dr. Terry Wahl, who developed the protocol, had a radical remission of her progressive MS after implementing this protocol and other lifestyle changes.
Are you currently on medications?
I have been medication-free for my Crohn’s disease since 2014, and I have never taken medication for MS, with the exception of a four-day steroid infusion immediately after diagnosis.
How do you cope day-to-day to reduce your symptoms?
I haven’t experienced a flare-up or any symptoms in several years, but I do experience what I describe as a ‘warning sign’, often when I am stressed, overwhelmed, taking on too much or not adhering to my diet. This warning sign is fatigue and exhaustion. It is my sign that I need to rest and re-assess my priorities to ensure that my health is still at the forefront of all that I am doing.
What is your pro-tip for living with two autoimmune diseases?
From an individual standpoint, I like to promote mindfulness strategies, diet, movement, and stress reduction.
If you’re seeking external healing modalities, I recommend seeing a Naturopath, Reiki and Massage therapy.
What is one thing you never leave the house without?
A clear quartz crystal for protection.
What has been the hardest challenge in living with Crohn’s and MS?
My biggest challenge is getting over the fear. No matter how much work I do on reducing the fear around how my diseases could progress for me, or how my genetic makeup could impact my child (and future children), I still experience moments of fear about having a colostomy bag or progressing to a wheelchair.
I used to stress out about this, but now I accept that it is a part of my life that I will continue to work on.
When I experience fear, I take it as an indication from myself that I need to check in via meditation or an EFT session to pinpoint the source of the fear and work on healing it.
What advice can you offer to someone who has just been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease?
The best advice I ever received was from my Naturopath, Dr. Denise Handscomb ND. During my first visit with her, Dr. Denise said, ‘this diagnosis doesn’t say anything about how your disease will progress - no one can predict that’. All of my fears around what could happen shifted in that moment.
You can believe your diagnosis, as it is your body’s way of identifying an issue or imbalance, but your prognosis is up to you! So many people see incredible benefits from dietary and lifestyle changes.
What’s one of your go-to self-care tips for living with Crohn’s/MS to help reduce your stress?
My go-to is always meditation. I am addicted!