Being diagnosed with cancer changes a person. I think that probably goes without saying. After the initial shock and horror at being handed a potentially terminal diagnosis and after acceptance had set in, there came a time when there was almost a sense of peace that washed over me. That’s not to say that I was pleased with my diagnosis. But a few realizations changed the path of my life. The first was that I had this thing—this cancer diagnosis, but it didn’t define me. The second was that this happened to me for a reason. It took a while to be able to find that reason, and a lot of self-exploration and deep reflection. Ultimately, I am certain that I am here as an instrument and part of a larger plan—part of which has just begun to materialize in the past few months.
My native Peru is home to some of the most extraordinary places, foods and vibrant traditions on earth. The rich culture, reflects a diverse community with roots as far back to the Incas. The Coast, the Amazons, the Andes Mountains offer some of the most powerful superfoods from the region. These regions tell a story which left a legacy of customs and traditions that are still found in modern-day Peru. On my last trip to Peru, I was there to fulfill part of my vision for what I believe my purpose is—to set in action the idea to bring some of the healthiest and most amazing superfoods from my birth home Peru to my present home the United States.
After I was diagnosed, it changed the way I looked at food. The foods I began to eat and prepare for my family were carefully chosen to maximize the benefit to our overall health and wellness. As I learned more about certain cancer-fighting foods, I began to realize that I have the ability to use what I’ve learned to help others. It became clear that I needed to find a way to bring these amazingly nutrient-rich, healthy superfoods from my old home in Peru to my new home in the United States.
It is all so exciting, overwhelming, and even a little bit terrifying to take on such a large vision. Yet I feel deep in my core that this idea that I have is what I am meant to do. This path that I am on, which began with my cancer diagnosis, is absolutely the right one. And so when I arrived in Lima, it was initially to meet with the company who will be a supplier of these healing superfoods powders for me to bring to the United States.
It is so difficult to explain how things fell into place during my visit to Peru. While I had initially prepared to solidify some plans, things shifted in the most beautifully unexpected way. I am in complete awe at the way things are unfolding and the opportunity I was given to actually visit the some of the fields. They offered me to visit one their maca fields to be exact and I just couldn’t believe it!
When I am at home in the United States, I start each day with a maca latte. Each morning, I reach for the beautifully packaged bag on my kitchen counter. For a long time, like many others, I only gave a cursory thought to what had to happen for that bag to get to my kitchen counter. Sure, I knew that maca powder had come all the way from Peru. Aside from that, I had never really given much thought to the process of bringing that maca root from Peru to the store where I bought it. So when I was offered a chance to see where and how maca is grown, harvested, and processed I knew it was something I had to do. I cannot explain how I knew it, but I did. And after having visited the farmers and the fields and seeing the entire process from start to finish, I have never been more certain of the path I am on in this world.
Visiting the maca fields isn’t something as simple as driving to an apple orchard or a pumpkin patch, like so many of us do this time of year. Instead, it was either a 10 hour drive from Lima to Junin, or a 45-minute flight (I opted for the flight). I set out on a Tuesday morning and arrived at the airport in Junin in time for breakfast, which included coca leaf tea to help acclimate me to the altitude. I was about to venture 4200+ meters, or almost 14,000 feet into the Andes Mountains.
Keep in mind that August in Peru is the equivalent of February in the Northern Hemisphere. It was bitterly cold when I arrived and yet the growing excitement and the gravity of the situation kept me positively glowing with warmth and hope. This wasn’t just a trip to see some roots and farms—this was essentially the circle of life.
As the car I was in climbed higher and higher into the mountains during the two and a half hour trip, the excitement was palpable. Although there was a brief period of time as we began to approach the maca fields where I felt I might be overcome with altitude sickness, I was able to reign in all of my fears and worries about the potential danger of being hours away from any sort of modern amenities should anything go wrong and just appreciate the sheer majesty of what was unfolding around me. I focused on my breathing and my purpose and why I was choosing to make this trip to the maca fields. Within moments, the pressure in my chest began to lighten and the buzzing in my ears lessened. My heart rate slowed as I took in my surroundings.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I don’t think the maca fields were anything like what I had imagined. To put it simply, it just looked like dirt. And yet, I knew there was something extraordinary about this dirt. Right there, beneath my feet, that plain dirt was yielding food that nourishes people around the world. That small place, just a handful of fields with a handful of farmers work the earth with their own hands. Those farmers, two of whom were women with warrior spirits, spend 12 hours every day in those fields from April through August. And they do it so I can walk to my kitchen and open that beautiful bag of maca powder for my morning latte. Standing there at that moment among these farmers 4200 meters up in the Andes Mountains, it was hard not to feel small.
Still, I wanted to capture every single opportunity to experience every step of the process of what goes into getting that bag of maca into kitchens around the world. And so I joined those beautiful maca farmers and worked the magnificent earth with my own two hands. Using my own two hands to dig into the life-giving, fertile soil for the maca root felt almost supernatural. At that moment, I was connected directly to the earth physically with my hands turning the earth. And yet spiritually, I felt an amazing sense of otherworldliness as I saw my purpose as well as the purpose of those beautiful farmers all fall into place. I wasn’t just digging up roots—I was pulling nutrient-rich, healing food from the earth which will go on to nourish another human’s body somewhere else in the world. I cannot even begin to describe the overwhelming feelings of awe and splendor that washed over me in those moments.
It’s hard to imagine anything else being even remotely as exhilarating as those moments I spent digging in the dirt for those maca roots, but the experience did not end there. After making the return 2.5 hour descent back down the mountains, I met with the company who will be helping me fulfill my vision of bringing Peruvian superfoods to the United States. First, we discussed my exclusive special blend of maca powder that will be for immune support. We discussed why certain ingredients were selected over others, taste, texture, and had a tasting of what will soon be my very own maca powder blend. After that, I was fortunate enough to be able to see how the maca is processed, which is a fascinating process that I know I won’t do justice in explaining.
These roots that are brought from all the way up in the Andes are first dried by the farmers themselves for several days before they are shipped to the facility for additional drying, cleaning, and grinding. It’s difficult to explain just how clean and thorough the process is, which is part of the reason I chose to partner with the particular company I did to supply my product. Not only are they extraordinarily respectful of the product, but their mission and values align precisely with my own. Ultimately, the products are sourced in a clean, organic, and ethical way from local rural farmers. The goal is to provide the highest quality superfoods in the world in a way that is sustainable. Every single person involved with the process, from the farmer to the engineer overseeing the manufacture of my special immune-support blend, is treated respectfully, fairly, and ethically. It’s an absolutely beautiful vision and why I am so pleased to be partnering with them!
After visiting the supplier’s facility, I had to spend the night in Junin before heading back to Lima. Flights only came and go from the area in the morning. The hotel, which was considered the best in the area, was an ancient old mansion. My group were the only guests there, and the accommodations were sparse, to say the least. Truth be told, it was like something from an old ancient movie! Everything was so old, from the building structure, courtyards, oil paintings, old.. old electronic devises, the furniture. It gave me a sense as if time hadn’t passed by for this area of the world. To be honest it brought back memories from childhood, how things were a lot simpler then, at least with technology and such. The entire experience was something that made me extremely grateful for the opportunity to visit this beautiful city in Peru.
I strongly believe that I am an instrument fulfilling a purpose. While I don’t wish cancer or disease on anybody, I know that my own diagnosis has led to a lot of self-discovery and has been the catalyst that has shown me what my purpose is. This new adventure I am on—bringing superfoods to the United States, is an idea that came to me as I began learning more about the way food fuels our bodies (and on the opposite end of things, how some foods harm our bodies). I am very excited to share that I have my organic certificate for my own label as of September 19. And while it’s impossible to predict what the future will bring, I cannot wait to see what my future holds. I am determined to enjoy and embrace life daily in submission to God fill with passion and discipline to carry out this vision with much faith in victory every day. Thank you for reading and joining me on this amazing ride!