My Husband’s Perspective on Mold Avoidance

November 9, 2019

This update is from Ana’s husband, Brett. I offered to write this post because I wanted everyone to know how I feel about our adventures with mold avoidance and how I think about the various challenges this short-term lifestyle presents.

The occasion for this post is yet another setback. After losing our miracle house back in July, we quickly found another house that promised to be far better. It was a nicer house on a beautiful property in an amazing location. The outdoor air was fantastic and Ana felt great in the house. Unfortunately, the landlords were making some improvements and it wouldn’t be ready till September.

We wrestled over whether to wait on this house or keep searching. Ultimately, we decided to wait because we felt God led us to it and because the odds of finding anything else as promising seemed low. If we had to bounce around campgrounds and hotels for a month or so… we would.

Well, the move-in date kept getting pushed back as renovations dragged on. Each time we had to decide whether to keep waiting or start searching for something else. Each time we decided to wait. How could we walk away from an opportunity like this? It was a beautiful home, tucked away in a gorgeous valley, with trees and a creek and miles of hiking right outside the back door. 

Not only that, but our landlords were incredibly understanding and offered to let us spend several nights in the house before signing a lease. They even offered a month-to-month lease without us even asking. To paraphrase the Emperor of China, “A house like that doesn’t come along every dynasty.” It seemed perfect for what we needed — as if God himself had built it for us.

In the end, we waited nearly four months before the house was ready. It was tough. We spent a lot of money on hotels. But it also felt like the last push… like we were on the edge of a breakthrough and were about to enter a season of rest. The house became a symbol of new beginnings and a return to normal life.

On November 3rd we arrived for our three night trial and everything began to fall apart. We’d visited the house several times over the summer. Ana had spent over an hour in the house with no symptoms whatsoever. But now, within seconds of walking in the door, she felt clearly unwell. What was going on? What had happened to our dream house?

Of course, we didn’t overreact. She had felt fine there twice before. Maybe they were burning moldy wood in the stove and the house itself was fine. We let the fire burn out and proceeded to vacuum, mop, and dust the entire house. It felt clearly better after that. Not great, but better. Maybe it just needs a little time to die down, we reasoned.

Ana slept pretty well the first night, but terribly the second night. By the third night it was clear this wasn’t passing contamination but active mold growth in the new construction upstairs. We both sensed mold in the same spots. We even had friends come over who had similar reactions in the same areas without being told what we were feeling or where we were feeling it. Most importantly, Ana was clearly going downhill, to the point where she was getting sick just going into the house to use the bathroom. This was not going to be a healing place for her to live, regardless of how much we wanted it to be.

Wednesday morning I called our landlords and told them it wasn’t going to work. As our shock gave way to disappointment and grief, we both struggled with how to explain this to others. Would people think we were crazy? Would they think Ana was crazy?

The fact is, we could have lived in this house. Ana wouldn’t have died. Eventually her body would have settled back into the kind of chronic and debilitating illness she lived with for five years before we started mold avoidance. We could have lived in this beautiful house and been like many other couples where one spouse is healthy and the other is disabled.

But how can you choose that when you know she can be 100% well? How can you choose chronic pain, brain fog, mental illness, and physical disability when you know it can all go away in a pristine environment?

Some people have the impression that Ana is so severely ill we are forced to do what we’re doing. It’s actually the opposite. Ana is so incredibly healthy we are choosing to do what we’re doing — despite how challenging it is.

And maybe it is important to say that I am choosing this, not Ana. I am the one who decided to head back on the road after our year in South Dakota. I am the one who decided to turn down this house. Ana is not forcing this on me. From the saddest and darkest parts of her heart she told me this week, “Just drop me off somewhere and you can live in this house with a new wife.”

Let me say this again: I am choosing this. I would rather live out of a car with my wife fully alive and thriving than live in a beautiful home with her chronically ill and suffering. I would rather travel this hard road with her (however long it takes) than take an easier road without her.

And lest I get more credit than I deserve, this is not purely selfless. I want the fun, energetic, smart, and tender-hearted woman I married. I don’t want to lose her again, because I did for nearly five years. When Ana was sick we both felt our relationship was more parent/child than husband/wife. It didn’t feel like a marriage. It didn’t feel like a partnership. It didn’t even feel like a friendship. Now it does — and I don’t want to lose that.

I am not stupid. I know how this affects my business. I know how it affects our finances. I know how difficult and isolating it is. In almost every practical sense our lives are terrible. In fact, my brother-in-law considers what we are doing his worst nightmare!

But here’s the reality: Ana is getting better, this season won’t last forever, and in the meantime we are both healthier than we have ever been before — physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I am convinced that being faithful in this season is not only the best thing for Ana, but the best thing for me too. It is shaping me into the kind of man I want to be… and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. It is shaping Ana into an even more beautiful version of herself… and I won’t give that up for any amount of comfort and ease.

With that said, we both long for stability and rest so we can better serve others. What we hate most about this season is how much of our time, mental energy, and resources must go towards our own daily survival, when there are so many people we want to love and serve better: family, friends, business partners, team members, students, and all the hurting people out there who need to feel the love of Jesus.

We are comforted by the fact that many of God’s people have endured seasons of suffering in preparation for greater service. These hardships feel like a mighty burden on our backs. Carrying it makes us feel weak. It makes us feel useless to others. But someday we will be allowed to set it down. And once we have rested and recovered, we will find we are stronger than we ever imagined. When that day arrives… bad guys, we are coming for you. Good guys, we are coming to your aid. We cannot wait to join the fight.

In the meantime, we find comfort in the words of a song by Josh Garrels:

Don’t be afraid to try your hardest 
Carry the weight and rise when you fall down 

The weight won’t break your soul 
But make you strong and able to hold 
All the good things 
Yet to come 

Don’t be ashamed of what they say about you 
Time will reveal your work was good and true 

The weight won’t break your soul 
But make you strong and able to hold 
The love of God 
And all the glory from above 
And all the good things 
Yet to come

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37 Comments

  • Sam Sheridan

    Proud of you. ♥️

    November 9, 2019 at 3:05 pm Reply
  • Ana Ducasa

    God bless you and Ana!

    November 9, 2019 at 5:19 pm Reply
  • Juliet Artman

    This is a model of marriage I look up to. Your love for each other is truly unconditional.

    November 9, 2019 at 7:49 pm Reply
  • Ma

    Like I told you many times, Brettcito, you are one of the most selfless men I have ever met, and I’ve had the privilege of watching you up close. I love you so much. And Ana, this post made my heart break for you and at the same time rejoice for the husband God gave you. 😢😊❤️

    November 9, 2019 at 8:00 pm Reply
  • Ray Z

    I thank God for you Brett. I love you and am so proud of you. Your attitude (both of you) in the midst of all the setbacks and hardships is inspiring. Keep pressing on! ❤️

    November 9, 2019 at 8:07 pm Reply
  • Sue Jackson

    Prayers for your journey!

    November 9, 2019 at 8:37 pm Reply
  • Karin Anderson

    God bless you guys. This is beautiful. It’s hard to believe there are even men like you out there anymore, Brett. I’m so glad Ana has such a kind, caring and patient man beside her. It’s just beautiful.

    November 9, 2019 at 8:39 pm Reply
  • Lynn Saint

    Bless you both. As you walk through this challenging time, may you rise with victory in your hearts and souls. What great plans God has for you as you confront these attacks with such amazing grace and steadfastness. Prayers for amazing answers to your requests and petitions.

    November 9, 2019 at 8:47 pm Reply
  • Chemical Free Gal

    What a beautiful post! We’ve had similar things happen to our family.
    May the Lord strengthen and equip you both so you can continue to bring Him glory through your lives.

    November 9, 2019 at 9:06 pm Reply
  • Elizabeth Pender

    May many others be like you both, and find such love and strength in spite of adversity.

    November 9, 2019 at 9:26 pm Reply
  • Brittany Cherelle

    I can relate. You have to have the focus and energy to serve others. I think through the experiences we grow in mercy and patience with others (we need it for ourselves as well). My prayer that you all keep Jesus at the center, and for you all to hang on (this too shall pass).

    November 10, 2019 at 1:21 pm Reply
  • Alex Harris

    So proud of both of you. I love you ferociously!

    November 10, 2019 at 8:11 pm Reply
  • sam

    as I am separating from my wife who was not able to handle the insanity of my condition, I read your words with joy and hope. Indeed, even if this kind of love didn’t happen to me (which brings other lessons), you are the proof that it exists. What a beautiful way to start the day, in happiness, in kindness. You both are heroes in more ways than one.

    November 11, 2019 at 9:01 am Reply
  • Andrew

    You guys are awe-inspiring. You live out all that you believe and God does the most amazing things in the middle of hardship. You truly are doing hard things and living out John 16:33. God shines through you to the world, and I pray that you continue to love God, love each other, and love the world which God is radically changing for the better through you.

    November 11, 2019 at 9:19 pm Reply
  • Theron St. John

    Brett, thank you for letting God’s grace and wisdom shine through your life! What a model and example. Praying for you and Ana!

    November 11, 2019 at 9:47 pm Reply
  • Kirsten F.

    Thank you so much for sharing, Brett! Praying that you and Ana will continue to grow closer to each other and the Lord, and that He will guide you through these challenges in your life. Keep trusting in him!

    November 12, 2019 at 6:25 am Reply
  • Anita Seavey

    Praying for you both!! I look up to the two of you so much and you are an incredible example – both as individuals and as a couple – of the kind of character I want to develop in my own life!

    November 12, 2019 at 7:55 am Reply
  • Sydney

    Praying for both of you! What a great example both of you are

    November 12, 2019 at 10:40 am Reply
  • Bella D.

    Love you both, Brett and Ana! So much!

    November 12, 2019 at 1:28 pm Reply
  • Fe Eugenie Batoon

    *hugs* Thank you for sharing, Brett and Ana!

    November 12, 2019 at 2:11 pm Reply
  • Antonio James Higgins

    Praying!

    November 12, 2019 at 3:38 pm Reply
  • Dana Webb

    My daughter just joined YWW at the last open registration and has been hearing about your struggles. It has been encouraging for her to know that she is not alone in the fight against lyme/mold/MCAS/MCS. My heart aches for ya’ll. We have had a very similar journey and I have been relating to much of what you share here on your blog. This post brought me to tears because it is just SO hard sometimes and can feel like it will never end. It is brave of ya’ll to share your ups and downs. It is encouraging to see God carrying you through. We are praying that He will provide you with a safe and healthy place to live.

    November 13, 2019 at 12:03 pm Reply
  • Trudy

    Praying for you both ♥

    November 14, 2019 at 1:55 pm Reply
  • Brittany DeJohnette

    Thanks for your input.

    November 20, 2019 at 10:40 am Reply
  • Nicole G.

    Thank you for sharing this. The love you have for each other is amazing. Glory to God. Praying for you guys!

    November 21, 2019 at 10:21 pm Reply
  • monique hirschkorn

    That brought me to tears. I don’t know anything about you both but I know the journey you are on and it is not a road walked by many. Thank you for the reminder that we are not alone and that everyone who has had to endure this season of life after mold goes thru the hills and valleys. Mold avoidance, hands down, has been one of the biggest challenges of our life. Thanks for vocalizing your journey so we can all be bolstered by your focus and hope for the future ♡
    God willing, we all will find a safe place to rest our heads and heal our hearts and bodies. I pray God continues to renew all our strength and restore our hope. Looking foward to better times to come and the knowledge we gain by surviving this journey ♡
    I’ll be praying for you both ♡

    November 30, 2019 at 4:36 pm Reply
  • Edith

    Dear Brett and Ana
    This is one of the most inspiring posts I have ever read. Brett, thank you for loving and caring for Ana . Ana thank you for your perseverance. Thank you both for clinging to your loving, heavenly Father in the midst of these trails. May He continue to go before you, as He did with the people of Israel…a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Hugs and prayers.

    December 1, 2019 at 7:21 am Reply
  • Marcia

    Dear Ana and Brett,

    You probably won’t believe this after you get done reading my post, but what if you’ve been lied too. Maybe not intentionally, but still, lied to? What if there was a way you could get out of this disaster, even if it meant going against all the things you’ve been taught…all the things that have been drummed into your head by the ‘extreme’ mold avoidance community? Not to mention those with Chronic Lyme?

    Before you answer, ask yourself how did the treatment for chronic lyme work out? Did you get worse and worse after all those antibiotics?

    I’ll come back and reply if you’re interested in hearing a possibly difficult answer. And no, it’s not ‘It’s all in your head.’

    Best regards,

    Marcia

    December 8, 2019 at 10:41 am Reply
    • Brett Harris

      Hey Marcia, we are always open to hearing suggestions and if you can make a compelling case that we are missing something, we are all ears. We have always tried to be humble and acknowledge that what we are doing is experimental and may be incomplete.

      That said, perhaps you missed the fact that what we are doing is working and Ana’s health is restored? The logistical challenges we face now are nothing compared to the suffering she endured before avoiding mold.

      That said, the fact you find it necessary to be so vague and mysterious reminds me of numerous “miracle cures” for a high price that we have been pitched for seven years. I am still open to hearing from you, but your approach gives off the wrong impression.

      December 8, 2019 at 11:35 am Reply
  • Marcia

    Hey Brett,

    Well I guess you didn’t want to accept my advice. That’s totally okay. Like I said, I resisted the same advice for about six years, so I understand (especially since the food ‘avoidance’ and lyme stuff came from a site that can seem rather snarky at times).

    Anyway, that’s why I guess I came off as ‘so vague and mysterious’ in my first post. I thought I should ask before spending a half hour or more writing out that lengthy reply. All I was doing was trying to help.

    You mentioned that I ‘missed the fact’ that what you’re doing is working. I didn’t miss that Brett. You’re living in a car. In my humble opinion, that’s not ‘working’. If Ana was indeed ‘so incredibly healthy’, she could live anywhere — and CAN and will be able to. I’m not saying she should just go back to the house right now — or any house for that matter. But that she should be able to — and not within 3-4 years. Within six months, without ever having to think about mold or the supposed outdoor ‘toxins’ that the fear-based extreme mold avoiders talk about.

    Just ask yourselves this: Why are you able to handle the mold and she is not? And it’s not about ‘mold genes’ or ‘locations’, etc — or again, as Shoemaker claims, 25% of the entire country would be severely ill.

    Anyway, this kind of stuff takes time to accept, so I’ll let it go. I DO sincerely wish you both the BEST in the future. Again, you’re fortunate to have each other!

    December 10, 2019 at 2:13 pm Reply
    • Brett Harris

      I think you really misread my response, Marcia. (Though I understand how easy it is to misinterpret tone and intention online).

      All I was trying to communicate in my response is that I’m open to hearing what you think we’re missing (and it rubs me the wrong way that you are so vague about it).

      I’m not sure how you took from that that I don’t want to accept your advice. You haven’t given me any advice yet and I am open to seriously considering any specific recommendations you want to make.

      Thanks for wanting to help!

      December 10, 2019 at 3:32 pm Reply
  • Marcia

    Okay, well…that is a misunderstanding on my part. I typed up a long post yesterday — took at least a half hour, if not longer — but I guess it didn’t ‘take’, or maybe I screwed up while posting it. Shoot.

    I agree, it is very easy to misinterpret the written word. Anyway, give me a few days and I’ll try again.

    Thanks for understanding.

    December 10, 2019 at 8:51 pm Reply
  • Dorrie Best

    Oh Brett! Thank you for writing and sharing your heart with us. It is beautiful and your life is such a testimony to Gods Grace . Your words are very encouraging. YOU ARE DOING GREAT THINGS FOR HIS KINGDOM RIGHT NOW! Merv and I continue to pray for you and Ana. Much Love & Blessings, Dorrie

    December 10, 2019 at 9:45 pm Reply
  • Leah Laing

    Praying for you guys! <3

    December 12, 2019 at 1:36 pm Reply
  • Ken

    Brett,

    My wife has also suffered tremendously from chronic illness, specifically related to Lyme Disease and Mold. We had to move houses once we got clarity on the mold piece. I’m also a Christian, and a pastor, BTW.

    I’m thankful my wife has seen some pretty significant healing recently. After her chronic illness became debilitating in 2016, we worked our way through a variety of treatments and spent a lot of money. Lots of ups and downs. Lots of difficulties and misunderstandings with the medical community, of course.

    Her turning point was actually something she found in the comments on this site, that made sense to both of us… Namely DNRS. I think we were “ready” for it. For me, it made sense that her body could be basically healed and yet her brain could still be trapped in vicious cycle. I’ve been amazed at what’s happened in the past 6 weeks or so, but it would be hard to squeeze into these comments.

    I’d love to talk to you or correspond with you. And for the record I have nothing to sell. Just feel for you guys, and would be delighted to share what’s worked for us… after so many things didn’t.

    Ken

    December 29, 2019 at 9:18 pm Reply
  • Sonya

    Dear Ana and Brett,
    Thank you for sharing these personal challenges in your life and giving testimony of God’s unfailing mercy and provision. Your faith and courage have been such an encouragement to me. In seasons where God’calls us to care for family it can feel “unproductive” to us as months turn into years of care. My own experience of caring for my grandmother after her caregiver, my mom, passed away, I had many of the same feelings you both express so well. Many nights I wrestled with wanting to be home with my family instead of caring for grandma. I wanted to be doing “other minstry” . I loved her very much but sometimes expending all your energy on caring for one person who doesn’t remember or understand is a difficult faith building process. It was in these times I had to hold onto the promise in Matt 25:40. God assigns our tasks and is walking with us. God Bless, Sonya

    March 19, 2020 at 10:18 am Reply
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