How Food Helped Me Heal

Image of Cathy Brophy, a smiling woman with blond har. She is holding a lemon and has a bowl of lemons and limes in front of her.

How Food Helped Me Heal

We are all on a journey in life. We strive to feed ourselves, get the proper exercise, manage our stress and reach out to help others along the way.

But sometimes this journey takes a major detour. That happened to me five years ago when I suffered two strokes in one night. I had a hemorrhagic stroke and an ischemic stroke. I suffered complete paralysis on my right side. I lost my eyesight in my left eye and had severe aphasia and brain fog.

Suddenly, I was totally dependent on others to feed me, exercise me and help me recover.

However, I could not manage my stress. How could I go on with another stroke right around the corner? Like the lyrics to Willie Nelson’s song, Detour …this detour was a muddy road ahead.

I had almost given up hope for a happy future when I ran across a site on Google that mentioned Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., MD, a surgeon and researcher from the Cleveland Clinic who recommended a way to reverse cardiovascular disease with a scientifically proven nutrition-based cure. I emailed him and he called me back that night.

He explained that almost 90% of ischemic strokes are caused by blood clots and these blood clots develop from injuries to the lining of the arteries called the endothelium.

This endothelium is smooth and healthy when we are born. Then we injure this as we eat food that contains dairy and animal fats and sugars and processed foods and after 30 years, blood clots form as our body’s last defensive effort to repair the damage. These blood clots lead to heart attacks and in my case, a stroke.

I bought his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and have followed his vegan diet for three years. It has been amazing; I have experienced renewed energy and stamina.

My carotid ultrasound has gone from 90% blockage at the time of my stroke down to 10% today. My cholesterol has dropped from 180 down to 70. My arteries are smooth again.

My stress about having another stroke has diminished. I have studied and have gained a certificate in whole plant-based nutrition from Cornell University. Today, I reach out and help others who are recovering from stroke.

Please join me on my website to learn about eating to repair your arteries and how to regain the wonderful feeling of living a happy and healthy life again.

Endothelium enhancing beet soup

A wonderful cold summer soup.


1 bunch beets about  3 medium -trimmed, cooked and peeled

1 orange, peeled and sectioned

2 Tablespoons grated lemon zest

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons mint

A dash of black pepper


After cooked, put the beets in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the orange sections, lemon zest, and lemon juice and blend some more. Add the mint and pepper and blend well again. Serve this cold.

Serves 4

Printed with permission from Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook by Ann Crile Esselstyn and Jane Esselstyn.