Carmen Rasmusen Herbert: How do you 'Get Well Soon'?

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15 2013 6:55 p.m. MST

I first learned my brother had a brain tumor while on tour with American Idols Live! I remember very vividly sitting in the green room before the show when I saw my mom’s number pop up on my phone. Tearfully, she quickly explained that my little brother had had a grand mal seizure the night before.

I was shocked and terrified. What did this mean? Was he going to be OK? Why did it happen?

It was a few more weeks before we received any answers, and when we did, the news seemed grim. He had a tumor that had developed during the third trimester of my mom’s pregnancy. It was benign — for now. It also wasn’t growing — again, for now. Good news, but it was also “gripping” the speech area in his brain, like a tiny hand.

Basically, that meant it was inoperable.

Thank heaven for the amazing doctors at Primary Children’s Medical Center who have helped him throughout the years. They are a large part of why he’s here today. His scary, big seizures have all but stopped and though he still gets small ones on a monthly basis, they are manageable with medication.

Ironically, the word “medication” is basically a swear word in my parents' house. And equally as strange is the fact that, not only does my brother take a hefty dose of pills daily to keep his body and brain working properly, but my father is also a physician. My mom’s oldest sister is a midwife and both she and her sisters have a very holistic and natural approach to healing and wellness. Dinner discussions are always lively when she’s in town, especially if we get into debates about whether medicinal approaches to healing are better than more natural approaches.

So ... why not both?

Time magazine just released a book titled “Alternative Medicine: Your Guide to Stress Relief, Healing, Nutrition, and More.” It’s all about how complementary and alternative medicine can improve our health and health care, with medical expertise from the Mayo Clinic.

The articles in the magazine talk about eating healthy, empowering the mind, flexing and calming, healing naturally and aging well.

I’ve been devouring it over the past week.

Because of my brother’s brain tumor, I’ve seen the enormous benefits of seeing doctors and taking medication. Hospitals have a place, and I’ve even given birth twice in them (another small family controversy).

However, I think we've grown to rely too heavily on medication instead of learning about all the amazing benefits that herbs, supplements, chiropractic care, yoga and mind-calming techniques can provide. Not to mention just good, old-fashioned healthy eating habits.


“It’s what we eat the majority of the time that influences our health,” Donald Hensrud, medical editor of The Mayo Clinic Diet, says.

When my son was 14 months, he started to lose weight. I was still breast-feeding, and had not yet learned I was pregnant again. I didn’t know why my milk supply was diminishing. (It turns out growing a baby on the inside as well as being the only food source for my toddler can be pretty rough on a woman’s body.) I asked my son’s wonderful pediatrician what I could do to help him gain weight. After discussing an aggressive weaning plan (sounds terrible, but it actually wasn’t too bad), my son was off breast milk within 10 days.

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