I should have died years ago when I suffered with rapid cycling bipolar affective disorder. It's a disease that is prominent in my family. My grandfather committed suicide when I was five. My mother killed herself when I was 21. I was institutionalized for periods of time. I was drugged heavily for three years, with no relief of my symptoms. Two years after my mother¹s death, I found the nutritional program now known as Truehope. The program is based on a supplement that is manufactured and distributed in the United States. I started using the supplement and within two months was off of a debilitating five-drug cocktail and well on my way to complete health. I have imported the Truehope combination of vitamins and minerals for seven and a half years, and in those years have enjoyed a full restoration of health. I have given birth to two beautiful daughters and I am now pregnant with another child. My thoughts and moods are exceptionally balanced and I am able to work and play and live a normal family life in a happy and intact marriage.

The University of Calgary received some funding from the Alberta government for the purpose of completing a study about the supplement I use. Health Canada blocked the study and demanded that all of the study participants go back on their drugs. I worried when I heard that, but since I was importing the supplement for personal use under NAFTA, I felt that my access to the supplement would not be restricted. On April 24,2003, UPS shipments began being held at the Canadian border. When Truehope Participants called to complain we were told that the vitamins and minerals were drugs and that we could not take them anymore. The press was told that we could still access the supplement by driving across the border to get it. Out of desperation one of my friends drove ten hours on June 7 to pick up some of the supplement. She was turned back on her way into Canada. Then when she cried and made a scene at the crossing, she was allowed to bring it in, but told by the guards not to tell anyone. False hope, embarrassment and a stone wall against information has been the pattern of treatment for Empowerplus users since Health Canada has decided to protect us.

We tried everything to get the attention of Anne McLellan and the Ministry of Health. In May, Health Canada stopped taking our calls and started sending us to a mental health support line. When I tried to plead my case with the support staff I was told my only option was to go back to the hospital when I ran out of the supplement. The mental health support line told me that Health Canada was looking out for my best interest, that the supplement was dangerous; yet, they could not tell me what the danger was. My life was on the line, and they couldn't even say why I couldn't have the supplement.  It¹s just vitamins and minerals. Safer than cigarettes and alcohol, safer than marijuana, peanuts, and Tylenol. Safer than any pharmaceutical on the market.

I had been well and productive and healthy for seven and a half years, yet now, for no identifiable reason, I was being forced back into the treatment that never worked for me, and certainly didn¹t work for my dead mother and grandfather. Where¹s the danger? I have eaten it every day for seven and a half years, and my health  only improved. The side effects of my previous prescription drugs damaged my liver, numbed my mind, ruined my eyes and caused the onset of an autoimmune disease that left me as a young woman, fat, and in a wheel chair. I can run now, I can bear children I don¹t even wear glasses anymore and I gave up my handicapped parking sticker long ago. Why was I being forced to go back? I hadn't broken any law. This was a death sentence in a country where capitol punishment does not exist.

I invited eight other women to join me in seeking answers.  We went to Ottawa and stood on Parliament Hill with our umbrellas. In the end, the Prime Minister ignored us, and Anne McLellan pretended not to know we were there, but the pressure from her peers who took the time to visit with us and hear our pleas for help opened the border and bought us some time. Now we are working to change the law, supporting Dr. Lunney's private members bill C-420, in the hope that Truth and Logic and Choice will prevail in law over the interests of a pharmaceutical lobby on Parliament Hill.

Autumn Stringam