Hi, I'm Nicole Kendrick, and I'm the founder of Golden Grace Kitchen. I'd love to share my story with you so that you can hopefully gain a little insight into who I am and why I created Golden Grace Kitchen.
Golden Grace Kitchen represents a collection of knowledge that I gained through the difficult circumstances and health issues that I have experienced throughout my lifetime.
I hope that by sharing my trials and tribulations, that it will help people to fight for better health for themselves and their families. More than half of my life has been spent battling one health issue after another.
I never let that battle get in my way, instead I decided to use my unfortunate set of circumstances as fuel in order to help others.
Once my health began to waiver, I knew it was my purpose in life to use my journey to change the paths of those struggling to find their way with their health.
Following a healthy diet is not just your source of food, but the ticket to a better you. I believe in simplifying all things diet related to ensure I create a plan that everyone can follow.
Growing up, becoming a nutrition and health coach wasn’t something I ever imagined I would do. In fact, I was set on being a private investigator. However, at the age of 14 my father was diagnosed with cancer at the incredibly young age of 39 and passed away fairly quick.
Unfortunately, his original cancer was misdiagnosed and treated incorrectly which ultimately led to an earlier death.
My thoughts of going away to school came to a halt and it was then I decided I would stay close to home and go on to be a cosmetologist. My mother and father had owned hair salons for many years, so it just seemed fit.
About 3 years in I became pregnant and suffered many complications throughout the pregnancy. I’d say it was then my health went on a downward spiral. I began to suffer tumor growths, fatigue, joint pain, migraines, bloating, irritable bowels, recurrent sinus infections, skin issues and so much more.
Pregnancy number 2 was 6 years later and with that came an even longer list of ailments.
I had grown another tumor, this time on my pituitary gland which was producing hormones causing a multitude of negative effects. In the beginning, they did not suspect a tumor.
In fact, for seven long months, they threw around early menopause, and hormone imbalance due to pregnancy and tried to pump me up with many drugs.
While on these drugs, there was a worsening of symptoms, weight was piling on and I mean, weight gain is the worst thing a post-partum woman wants to experience, am I right?
I decided to do some research of my own, as I was determined not to end up misdiagnosed like my father. Beginning by writing each symptom down, pair it up with my research, and take it in with me to the doctor.
I requested an MRI and had it done within the week. I had myself diagnosed before the results came back, went on to schedule an appointment with a specialist so I would be ahead when the results came in. Sure enough, my hypothesis was right, and it was indeed a tumor.
All the medications they had me on were a waste and were of no benefit to the tumor. Thankfully, the specialist got me going in the right direction and slowly the hormones leveled out.
During the next few years, my anxiety was at an all-time high. It did not seem right to always feel so anxious. I knew there had to be something else going on, but what was it?
The migraines were debilitating, the bloating would leave me looking pregnant. None of this seemed fitting for someone that worked out 5 days a week and ate a healthy diet. Or at least I thought the diet was healthy.
We are taught to choose wheat, right? Wheat is healthy. So, I ate lots of wheat pasta, wheat breads, you name it, I chose wheat. The fatigue would then set in and take over my body. The migraines left me lifeless.
Throughout the next 3 months, while continuing to work in the salon, I would have stayed at 4 different hospitals and visited 13 different specialists. I was diagnosed with 3 diseases that were later confirmed I did NOT have.
I was even given a drug to take for one of the said diseases, and again, went home to do research.
I decided to fact-check the drug I was given. So, I plugged my seizure and tumor medicines as well as the new drug they were prescribing into a drug checking site. I learned that 7 people had died from the drug combination, just that year. Let’s just say I’m really grateful I did a drug check before taking the prescriptions.
These 3 months took a toll on me mentally and physically. I was losing weight rapidly and found myself at 97 pounds. The bowel distress was unlike anything I had ever seen before.
The Gastroenterologist could not come up with anything that was wrong and wanted to place me on a feeding tube. I knew a feeding tube would just be a band-aid and we would still go on to have no answers.
The other doctors told me I was just depressed, told me I had major anxiety, told me I “looked normal” and nothing was wrong. I even had one tell me to go home, take 6 Xanax and go to sleep.
Throughout this time, I avoided all prescribed anxiety/depression meds as I knew there was an underlying reason for my anxiety. I decided I had enough of the false medical diagnoses and called a client’s dad. He was a local physician and if anyone could help me, it was going to be him.
Sure enough, within 48 hours, he had me lined up with a new GI doctor, a friend of his. I went in locked and loaded with everything I had been experiencing written down. He schedules a colonoscopy/endoscopy and sends me on my way.
Why did I have to wait this long for an endoscopy?
I had been complaining of bowel distress for months only to come out with “you are depressed, how’s your marriage, you look fine, take these meds.” Unfortunately, this happens far too often in the medical world.
Self-advocacy means more now than ever. The biopsy would come back positive. It was celiac disease all along.
Anxiety was my number one complaint. All of the things I had been living with that I thought were "normal" had been celiac disease all this time! It turns out that wheat was not healthy for me and that I was damaging my insides even further each time I ingested wheat.
The diagnosis hit like death. I was losing my old life. Who was I now? I knew that everything I did revolved around food, and it would all change from this point on.
How would I socialize? How would my friends take my new restrictions when dining out? I did not know where to start.
The doctor sent me home with a printed paper that read “What is Celiac Disease”. No direction on how to navigate my new life. I spent the evening and days following researching the internet on how to live my new life.
In between the tears of course. I searched for a nutritionist but could not find one that really had anything to offer my new way of life.
Most were for diabetes, high cholesterol, and things of that nature. Health coaches were not really much of a thing back then, either. It turned into me educating myself the best I could.
I would read books, read the NIH.Gov research site, and take notes in order to follow the studies they conducted on mice.
Exploring the connection between the gut and the mind, and how that crucial connection impacts overall health became an obsession of mine.
I began by practicing on my cosmetology clients when they would come in for their hair appointments. Throughout the years I was able to guide many to diagnoses that they may have never been able to receive.
I started changing their diets, creating meal plans, helping with weight loss, and fixing nutrient deficiencies. It was like I was a health coach and cosmetologist all in one.
Turns out, I was still living my dream of being an investigator after all. Just in a much different way than I had ever imagined.
Unfortunately, over the next 7 years, I would be struck with more bad health. I would battle candida overgrowth, leaky gut, over 200 food intolerances, and so much more.
At the top of 2020, January 2nd to be exact, I would find out I had a massive tumor growing behind my eye.
I had been noticing that my vision diminished over the last year. I had also been experiencing pain. Those two symptoms are what initially prompted my visit to the doctor.
When I saw the doctor, I was informed that surgery would be required. This surgery would entail cutting open both my eye and head in order to perform this delicate procedure. I decided to do some research, and through that research I located the number one eye institute in Miami.
In order to take control of my health, I went against the first doctors wishes and I sought a second opinion. I asked for a referral to the eye institute I had researched in Miami.
I knew that if I had any chance at coming out of this ordeal with my vision, that institute was my only chance to do so. I went for a few visits to the institute, and they did many scans before scheduling my surgery.
I will never forget the moment that my entire life flashed before my eyes, as I entered the surgery room. The surgeon pulled me aside 20 minutes before the surgery and informed me that she believed that I had cancer.
My scans showed cancer and the tumor had diminished the bone separating my brain from the orbit. It was possible I would suffer a CSF leak, and an extra team of neurosurgeons would be on standby.
They did a freeze biopsy while I was on the table, just to be certain. They wanted to determine if the tumor was cancer, or not.
If the tumor were in fact cancerous, they would stitch me back up without removing the tumor. Then, they would start me on a chemotherapy treatment regimen, including a port, the very next day.
Would you be overwhelmed? Yep, me too. I had checked out of my hotel that morning. and I was set on going home after surgery.
That was not in the plan. The surgeon had my husband book another hotel room in order to extend our stay and they would perform the surgery.
After 5 hours of surgery and two freeze biopsies, they could not believe I was cancer free!
How could it be? I was the first she had seen in 15 years that presented a case like mine but not carry cancer.
Aside from being overjoyed, it was time I put my life into perspective. I had been given my last medical miracle.
I asked myself this question: "Why was I faced with so many battles over the years?" It didn't make sense. I ate healthier than most and worked out five days a week?! In spite of that, I had battled with health issues of those that were twice my age.
After some research and compiling graphs, it hit me. It was the chemicals. The chemicals in the salon. It was time I removed myself from the toxin filled environment and give myself the best chance at living a healthy life. After all, it had become my passion to help others.
I was in service to the public for almost 20 years. I spent the latter 10 of those years as an advocate for the health of every person in my chair. Following my passion for being an investigator finally came to fruition when I became a Certified Health Coach. I started investigating for the sake of saving the health of others.
I would take all the knowledge that I gained through the health trials that I had been handed in, and I would use it to help others.
That is the story of how Golden Grace Kitchen was born. It has been a true lesson for me about taking ownership of my health, tirelessly seeking knowledge, never giving up hope that I would overcome all of these obstacles, and then turning it into something tangible for others that want to do the same.