A dentist's hard lessons and how he overcame them

2016 08 22 14 15 49 958 Danenberg Alvin 400

Everybody has a story. Everybody has had their ups and downs. And those who say they haven't aren't being honest. With that in mind, let me open up and expose my dirty laundry. These challenges resulted in my life's detours, but there is a purpose for me to tell all. Along the paths I have traveled, I have been uplifted by abundance -- but not material abundance.

1st challenge

In the early 2000s, I became a partner with an entrepreneur who was going to change the world. I got excited. This was mind-blowing. In time, I helped him raise money for his life-changing concepts and invested most of my retirement savings with him.

Alvin Danenberg, DDS.Alvin Danenberg, DDS.

Although I did my due diligence, it clearly was not enough. It turned out that he was the mastermind of a cunning Ponzi scheme. I only learned of his criminal intent and deceit after he committed suicide. The financial disaster for me was that I lost all my investment as well as my pride. And then there were legal issues since I was his partner. This was my first devastating defeat. I could have succumbed to this defeat, but I didn't. I pulled myself up, began to reinvent myself, and eventually moved on with my life.

2nd challenge

In 2006, at the age of 59, I had a stroke. Fortunately, within four months I recovered completely. But my conventional doctors, who saved my life, put me on seven medications that I had to take for the rest of my life. That didn't sit well with me. My physicians had no ideas and could give me no answers as to why I had the stroke or how I should get my body healthy. So, I independently pursued answers to my questions about how to "fix" my body.

Eventually, at the age of 66 and after seven years of searching for the way, I learned about ancestral nutrition and lifestyle. Within two years of adopting this new way of living, I completely weaned myself off all seven meds and lost more than 35 pounds of body fat. My body began to stabilize and my hormones started to balance. I became a "senior poster boy for healthy living," and I started lecturing around the country and providing virtual consults to clients all over the world, while still maintaining my active practice of periodontics in South Carolina.

For my patients, I incorporated this healthy lifestyle into my periodontal treatment with great success. It's amazing to think I could have followed my conventional doctors' recommendations in 2006 to stay on seven meds for the rest of my life, never learned about the evolutionary way of living, and remained basically unhealthy.

3rd challenge

While traveling in April of 2018 at the age of 71, I experienced some pain in my right shoulder and some of my ribs. When I finally saw my medical doctor in September, I was diagnosed with an incurable bone marrow cancer and was given three to six months to live.

Everything that was devastating financially and medically in the past was now superseded by this devastating prognosis. My first thought was that my world was coming to an end. My second thought was that I would have to say goodbye to my wife, kids, and grandkids. I was thrown into an abyss of depression and forced to face my mortality.

But it wasn't for long. I was never in denial. Immediately, I rejected chemotherapy, created my "Unconventional Cancer Protocols," and moved on to survive and thrive. But, during my cancer journey, I had severe pathological fractures of various parts of my skeleton.

You see, my severe case of multiple myeloma created holes in my bones that made them fragile and prone to breakage. Since my diagnosis, I have experienced two vertebral compression fractures, several broken ribs, a hairline fracture in my pelvis, two snapped femurs, and one split humerus. My serious bout with fractures in August of 2019 placed me into a hospice hospital to die. Yes, to die!

But surprisingly, I rallied. This past May, my positron emission tomography (PET) scan showed no active cancer cells throughout my entire body. My oncologist is amazed. I am thriving. I walk a mile in my neighborhood every day and do modified pushups and squats in my home. Today, I think I deserve a new moniker: the "senior poster boy for self-recovery." Yet I could have gone the route of chemotherapy, had a decreased quality of life, and been mired in the overhanging fear of dying from terminal cancer.


Why am I telling you all this? Well, I want to make a point -- a point that stabs at the core of our psyche. My point is this: All of us have the power to make choices in our lives. My choice was never to be a victim, although I felt victimized at the moment. My choice was to be a survivor, even an extraordinary achiever.

I could have been weakened by my financial crisis, by my life-threatening stroke, by the crushing diagnosis and prognosis of incurable cancer, or by the numerous broken bones I had to endure. I am where I am today because I never saw the glass of life as "half-empty." I picked myself up each time to persevere.

Don't get me wrong, I have been to the deepest depths of depression, but I never stayed there for long. Fortunately, I had support from my family, especially my stubborn and amazing wife. I owe my successful recovery to her in so many ways. She showed me how I was surrounded by abundance and that was where I found strength.

My wife unmistakably showed me that we live in a world of plenty, but I don't mean an abundance of material things. I am referring to an abundance of faith, hope, will, and love. Her tough love whipped me into seeing my power to move forward in the face of adversity. She embarrassed me into realizing that I am a survivor and not a victim. She worked hard to help me self-motivate.

I believe we are here in our mortal body because of a purpose, a purpose that we had a role in designing. My beliefs may not be your beliefs, but that is OK. Each of us can find our purpose and move toward it and not allow bumps along the way to break our stride.

All this may sound like Pollyanna. I am not just throwing phrases around haphazardly. I have been to the edge of death and returned. Against all odds, I found strength in the abundance of the intangibles of life -- and you can too!

Alvin Danenberg, DDS, has retired from the private practice of periodontics in Bluffton, SC. He continues to be on the faculty of the College of Integrative Medicine and created its integrative periodontal teaching module. He also spent two years as chief of periodontics at Charleston Air Force Base earlier in his career. His website is drdanenberg.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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