The question posed by Peter Diamandis in late January 2017 piqued my interest in a way I wasn’t expecting. In my first post in this series, I describe in detail attending Diamandis’ Abundance 360 conference. Frankly, I was attending this conference to figure out how to take my business — not my health — to the next level.
As I spent my second to last day of the conference in the January warmth of Los Angeles, it was crystal clear in my mind that life doesn’t always move along a linear path. It has detours, contours, setbacks, breakthroughs and revelations. For five years I struggled with Achalasia. I ignored it, medicated it, became depressed over it, and had resigned to its inevitable conclusion: life with a severely restricted diet or even a feeding tube.
In August of 2016, I woke up and started addressing the disease’s painful effects: the ulcer and the infections. I also was determined to figure out its cause and how I could proactively protect my esophagus as much as possible. Five months later, I was on the right path to improving a lifetime of damage.
But now I was focused on setting my moonshot. I was determined to find a cure to my disease in five years. I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I knew I was going to get there…and it scared the shit out of me.
On the last day of the conference, Diamandis introduced a fascinating speaker to the stage, Dr. Neil Riordon. Riordan is founder of the Stem Cell Institute in Panama. I was mesmerized by his speech on stem cells. He presented strong evidence that stem cells can treat and cure many ailments and diseases including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, autism, and yes, autoimmune disease.
Riordan’s clinic is overseas because the U.S. government has too many rules and regulations prohibiting doctors from using many stem cells for experimental use (other than minor elective surgeries).
I believe this is both good and bad. Caution and safety to protect patient health — good. But when patients facing dire situations are out of options and have no other choices available to them, experimental treatments might be their only hope, and they should be able to access them.
While I wasn’t at that point yet, I understood why many American citizens travel overseas to be treated with experimental medicines or procedures. It’s about hope. We all need it.
Riordan’s speech piqued my interest – I had been reading about stem cell research as potential cure to Achalasia. Unfortunately, all the research I could find was from the early 2000s and there weren’t any new findings or information. It’s almost as if it went into a black hole. But if doctors thought that stem cells could be a cure to this disease 10-15 years ago, then maybe the advancement of stem cells today could be the bridge to their research. Why not, right? *Since I’m not a doctor, my ignorance is bliss.
There are many nuances to stem cell treatments (trust me, I’ve spent a lot of time researching it). You can administer stem cells through an IV or have them injected directly into the affected areas. The range and scope of possible treatments is shockingly broad. For this blog, I’m keeping it simple as to not lull you to sleep.
After Riordan’s speech, I tracked him down (I wasn’t going to leave until I unloaded on him) and we discussed my condition. He said he knew of my disease but had never treated anyone with it. But he also believed that Achalasia falls in line with types of conditions that stem cells can cure.
Riordan gave me his card and told me reach out to him once I got home.
Moonshot in place — and now I had hope.