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Origin of Karen: Benefits of marine phytoplankton

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Karen Hunter
Karen Hunter always lived life to the fullest.
Karen Hunter
Karen Hunter always lived life to the fullest.

Sponsored Article - Presented by Karen Phytoplankton

Marine phytoplankton – health supplements, mitochondria, for human health,

It was September 1993. I was 20. My family lived in Maple Ridge, BC. I was headed to a business meeting and asked my mom to help me with my tie. I was motivated because my dad was a bus driver who hated his job and could never get ahead. Mom had an excruciating headache. Dad was at work.

I went to the meeting and discovered that is what I wanted to do – business. I was excited. I remember coming in the door and Dad was home. He told me Mom went to the hospital and he was going there to spend the night.

He came home around lunch the next day and told me and my sister that they took her away to do a series of tests. Dad was pacing the floor. The phone rang and he listened quietly. He started to cry, hung up the phone. I was already crying at the sight of my dad. He told me they found a tumor the size of a golf ball inside Mom’s brain. It didn’t look good. She was going into the operating room.

We drove to the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, BC to wait in the waiting rooms. They were going to try to remove the tumor. My aunt and uncle showed up. So did family friends. We were there all day and late into the night. I tried to fall asleep on the couch, to numb the pain by closing my eyes.

I heard the doctor come out. I pretended I was still asleep. He told my family the tumor was on both sides of the brain. They took out as much as they could to relieve the pain in the short term, but she was going to die. My family was crying. I lay there pretending to sleep.

My Dad didn’t want my mom to die in the hospital, so he insisted a hospital bed be delivered to our house and we converted our living room into Mom’s hospital room. She came home in November and we took care of her with the help of the local Hospice Society until she passed away at 10am on December 29th, 1993.

I knew she was going to die that day. Her lungs were filling up with fluids and her breaths were short. I went into my room to listen to music. I felt a back rub, as if she touched me on her way out. I knew that was the moment she left us. Two minutes later Dad came into the room to tell me it was over. I was hurt, but I knew it was inevitable. I had felt her presence when she left her body to travel to an unknown destination. This event gave me the inner peace I still have today – knowing this life is not the destination. It also helped me realize this life is temporary. Let’s do our best to enjoy it.

Fast forward to 2001. I was living in Lake Cowichan, BC on Vancouver Island, a partner in a shake and shingle operation. It was a good business, but I hated the job and wanted to make a switch. By then, Dad had passed away as well. After Mom left, he moved to Clearwater, BC to be with his family, but instead of turning to the bottle, he turned to binge eating, started smoking again, and drank lots of soda pop.   He gained a lot of weight. I visited him in September 1998 to play golf. He looked yellow and was breathing heavily. I called my sister and told her he might not last much longer.  

Two months later, Dad was supposed to visit for a couple days on his way to Reno for his annual gambling trip. He never showed. The secretary of the mill in Maple Ridge, BC where I was working came to say I had a visitor. I was told Dad had had a stroke in Clearwater and died instantly. I was in shock. Not long after, I left my hometown to start a new journey on Vancouver Island. That’s how I was in Lake Cowichan cutting shingles.

In 2003, before we had phones and instant access to everything, I was driving to the mill in Duncan, BC.  I turned the corner on the highway and saw the mill had burned to the ground. A welder had not been using water on the worksite. My business literally died that day. I decided then and there this was my pivot point. I was going to do something that I liked and not just work for the money.

I ended up partnering with a friend from high school and we started a bottled water brand — Drinka Water. We trademarked the name. Being into music and art, I felt that creating was a hidden passion. I loved drawing and working with designers. I was always excited to meet new people and loved selling my ideas and trying to build win-win relationships.

We partnered with an Alaskan Bottled Water company. They had amazing water, but no branding.  Some guy from Juneau saw the marketing and asked if we could be their marketing partner. On September 11th, 2002, I found myself crossing the border into the US. So began a four-year journey of traveling the US by car, talking to distributors and grocery chain stores. I found out I was pretty good at it.

During my driving days in the US my diet became compromised. I was sitting in the car all day and eating gas station food. I found myself needing bigger clothes. I was tired all the time and living with acute pain and migraine headaches. I had kids to feed so slowing down was not an option.

By March 2004, I had a network of US distributors and found myself in Anaheim, California at Natural Products Expo West. We were in many health food stores by then and I was ashamed I was selling “healthy bottled water” but was now 50lbs. overweight. I noticed a lot of people with stress are overweight. I believe the stress shuts down digestion and makes you crave bad food as a soother.

At Expo West I met Tom Harper and Ed Millerstrom, two gentlemen from Nanaimo, BC. Since I was now living in Duncan, BC, I went to say hi as a fellow Vancouver Islander. They showed me a petri dish of marine phytoplankton. They tried to tell me what it was, but it went over my head. Ed was interested in the distribution network I had built. We exchanged business cards and I left the booth not thinking too much of it.

Fast forward to July 2005, one year and four months later. We had investors and I had just landed a deal with a regional Pepsi bottler in Bellingham, Washington. This required new capital, which we didn’t have. The investor group decided my days at Drinka were over. They wanted to put in a new CEO. I was in shock, but business is business, so I didn’t fight it. I was also super tired, mostly because of my poor health. Still shaking, I walked to my desk to pack up.

The phone rang. I almost didn’t take it. “Hey, Dave, It’s Ed Millerstrom, the phytoplankton guy. Remember I said I needed a guy like you? Something came up. We want to pick your brain.”

I thought of my mom and laughed. “The timing is really interesting and, yes, I am available,” I said. Ed was excited. The next day I was at the phytoplankton farm talking to Tom and Ed in Tom’s office overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Tom proceeded to tell me that after starting on the phytoplankton his health had begun to improve dramatically. He had an unusual recovery from a rare lung cancer called mesothelioma. His blood sugar was normal for the first time in decades. A local doctor named Dr. Bob Rowe was excited and thought that “phytoplankton could be the perfect food for the mitochondria, which are the engine of human cells.” This was a bit over my head, but his cancer story got my undivided attention.

Ed and Tom said they want my help building US distribution. This was right up my alley and I found myself free to do it, so I took the position with no idea about phytoplankton, health supplements, mitochondria, human health, or anything of the sort. Tom gave me some phytoplankton to try.

I took two capsules there and then with zero expectations and took another two after supper. I was excited to share my new job with my wife and young family. I joked I would have to learn to spell phytoplankton.

The next morning was like any other, except I took another two phytoplankton pills. After my coffee, I felt a rumbling in my stomach and had to run to the washroom. I came out of that experience feeling amazing.

Like every other Canadian, I couldn’t make a 50km drive without my double-double and Boston Cream. I picked up my coffee and donut and started to drive to Nanaimo. The coffee tasted terrible. It was too sweet, and I thought they made a mistake. Then I bit into the donut and couldn’t stand it. It tasted so sweet I couldn’t eat it. The taste of sugar was no longer appealing to me. This was so weird. I had had enough Rice Krispy Squares in the US to be a major shareholder.

Later in the day, when I was usually so tired, I felt this strange sense of mental clarity along with a calm energy. This couldn’t be the phytoplankton, I thought. Vitamins don’t work like this. Tom’s story was starting to make sense.

The next day I woke up with the same routine, took another couple of phytoplankton pills, then off to the washroom. I felt the same relief. Then, once more, the taste of sugar in the coffee was too strong and I decided to back off to one sugar and skipped the donut.

I found out later that sometimes people have up to 15lbs of crud in their colon. In my case this was most likely true. I think my body didn’t have the nutritional tools to get rid of years of eating at gas stations.  Now that I gave my body the tools it needed, it went to work for me right away. I was starting to feel so good. Was this really happening?

Check out this related article: Understanding Your Immune System by David Holt


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