July 21, 2016
Jeff Adams is the group leader of the pod group, “Heartbeats for Life” in Savannah, GA. Jeff’s story begins in upstate North Tonawanda NY, where he grew up watching his Father run a small business, and after learning the tools of the trade, set off to begin his own wholesale tire business in Rochester NY at the young age of 19. Shortly after starting his franchise, Jeff found a local YMCA, and discovered that he could use squash courts for free, which led him to become an avid player. His hobby led him to cross paths with many doctors in the community, who eventually became close friends. During this time he also got married and had his first child. Life with his family in Rochester was good, and Jeff continued to play squash, and maintain seemingly good health into his 50’s.
In the end, you could say it was the game of squash that inadvertently led Jeff to the life he’s living today. It all began when he went to the doctor, who happened to be a fellow squash player, for his yearly physical. His doctor suggested that having some extra tests run, due to Jeff being in his mid 50’s, wasn’t a bad idea. So Jeff agreed, and when the doctor called several days later and said a few more tests were necessary, Jeff began to feel uneasy. A few more days later, the doctor called again, this time asking him to come in to talk.
Jeff recalls the atmosphere as he walked into the office that day, the same office he’d visited often, as both a friend and a patient. He noticed his doctor’s formal demeanor right away, and was told that there was something very important to discuss, but first, he wanted Jeff to know that he’d checked with all the other doctors he knew (all squash players as well) in order to make sure he was accurate in his assessment. The doctor went on to tell him that, unfortunately, he had a heart condition that no stint or bypass could fix. Jeff laughed, and said he must be kidding him, because he’d had no symptoms, other than a bit of chest compression, which he passed off as indigestion. It became clear that this wasn’t an interaction among friends, as the doctor continued in a formal manner, to tell him that the only solution was a heart transplant, and the waiting list for this was over a year long. Finally, he told Jeff that a heart transplant wouldn’t be an option, as his heart condition would give him four, maybe six months to live. Jeff recalls the doctor’s advice to “contact your accountants and lawyers and get things arranged now, because you don’t want to wait until you’re sick, and laying in this hospital with tubes sticking out of you, trying to figure out what you’re going to do with your business. You want to do that now, while you still can.” Afterwards, Jeff remembers sitting in the car for over an hour and coming to several conclusions.
Given the evidence, he decided to take the doctor’s advice, and contact his lawyers and accountants, to make sure his death wouldn’t be a burden to his wife. Next, he decided he’d get a second opinion, and last, he decided he wouldn’t tell any of this to his wife. He reasoned that having her worry one day less was one day less worry she would have.
Jeff had retired from the tire business years ago, and at this time, ran his own wholesale and retail book business, which included five stores in Rochester. After making these initial decisions, he took advantage of his resources, and began scouring the shelves for books on heart disease. He quickly happened upon Dean Ornish’s book, “Program for Reversing Heart Disease” went home, called everyone at his business, and let them know he’d be at home for a few days. After finishing the book, when his wife came home from work one day, he announced to her that he was making some changes in his diet, and would be doing all the cooking from now on. He figured if he did all the cooking, she wouldn’t have a choice, and his wife, still not knowing what had happened, agreed. Jeff says she “probably figured this would only last a day or two.”
Shortly after Jeff happened upon Dean Ornish’s book, he went to the second doctor group as planned, where, after taking the tests again, they told him his first doctor was optimistic, and they felt he really had between 2 and 4 months left to live. Despite this, he continued to change his diet, and within a few weeks, began feeling better, which was when he bumped into his doctor in the squash gym. When he told his doctor he’d changed his diet and was feeling better, the doctor shrugged it off, and assured him this was serious, and diet wouldn’t do anything, but that he could come in for a few more tests to assess the situation.
Once more, Jeff walked into the doctor’s office, and found his doctor with the tests spread out, but this time he could see he was nervous. Jeff, not knowing what this meant, became nervous himself. He recalled the moment, saying “I watched him sit there, just looking and looking, and then he hung his head and I started to cry. So I figured this is it, I’m done. But then he (his doctor) says to me, “there must have been something wrong with the machines.” I was bewildered, and still confused – it made no sense. He said, “there must have been something wrong with the machines when we did the tests for the first time, because these tests show that you’re getting better, and I know that it’s medically impossible.” He now knew that this diet wasn’t improving his health by some sort of placebo affect, as he’d worried before, but was making him better. Although Jeff had already told his two children about his diagnosis, he could now safely tell his wife, knowing that he’d found a solution.
15 years later, Jeff attributes his continued success to Ornish’s book and the work of other plant-based doctors and scientists. He went on to read The China Study, Whole, and Dr. John McDougall’s work among others (his group has even had Dr. McDougall do several skype sessions with his pod group). Jeff initially found support at the Dean Ornish support group in Rochester, but today, he tells his story at Heartbeats for Life group meetings in Savannah. Jeff described the transformation that takes place not only health wise when curing a terminal diagnosis, but also the newfound appreciation you have for health and life, telling group members, “if I should keel over now and die, nobody should feel bad for me whatsoever, because when someone convinces you – when you’re absolutely positively convinced that you’re about to die – and you don’t die, every day you wake up, it’s a new day, it’s a new life, it’s absolutely something you never expected to have.”
Despite the fact that Jeff has received mixed responses from speaking engagements at hospitals, he’s taken things into his own hands and developed a class series in Savannah. The seven and nine week class series was developed for those that want information on a WFPB lifestyle at an accelerated pace. The classes meet for 3-4 hours per week, and consist of taste testings, cooking demos, and trips to the supermarket, learning about labels, ingredients, and shopping. Jeff says, “by the time they’re done with the sessions, they know why they should do it, and they know how they should do it.” Over the course of these classes, Jeff has seen people reverse diabetes and other chronic diseases, lose weight, and experience countless benefits. He says “it’s a hell of a bunch of work, but it’s so worth it when you see these people.”
In Savannah, an area rooted in barbecue and pork, Jeff says things are slowly changing, and “one step at a time is all you can do.”
** If you’re in, or nearby the Savannah area, check out Heartbeats for Life on the PlantPure Pod page: http://www.plantpurepods.com/podsdirect/savannah-ga-jeffheartbeatsforlife-ga-org-group/
** You can also contact Jeff at:
** Heartbeats for Life for Life will be hosting Dr. Michael Greger on July 20th.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.