She Survived a Brain Tumor and Now Is Helping Others Find Total Wellbeing

|Updated Mar 2, 2021
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When your doctors tell you that you might not wake up from surgery, that if you do you're likely to never be able to work, travel or live unassisted, and that the brain tumor in the front of your head is going to rob you of the rest of your life, it's rational to rethink your priorities. Clinical Psychologist and former tech executive Avantika Dixit survived that harrowing experience, at age 22, and it not only changed her life but made her want to help other young people find their paths, solving the problems of health, wealth, and love.

She has created a new interactive website, Woke Hero, that suggests exercises and other methods to help young people, who she points out are able to live to be 100 and beyond, find their authentic purpose, what she calls their cosmic signature, and lead them away from crisis toward opportunity. She says it's no accident that a plant-based diet helped her heel and is the choice of so many Millennials, since food, like everything else, offers up energy. The energy you choose guides your biases toward life and a better planet.

If all this sounds a little woo-woo, keep reading since Dixit is a former tech executive and in her interactions as therapist and business leader she says there are universals. Every story has some conflict with wealth, health ad love. We are not all that different from one another. Since her near-death experience, it woke her up from an uninspired existence, and she has learned a lot about life and wants to help others find their best versions of themselves.

Part of Dixit's journey involved "cleaning up" her diet, which was mostly plant-based, to begin with, but then she also gave up dairy. She also had to get past a second health condition later in life, PCOS, which she now has put behind her and lives symptom-free due to her diet. Growing up in India she was always vegetarian but when the glass of milk she drank in the US had a totally different, allergic effect on her body she gave up dairy too.

A brain tumor may have saved her life. It certainly helped her turn it around

Avantika Dixit was just 22 when doctors told her that all the puzzling and troubling symptoms she had been experiencing were the manifestations of a life-threatening tumor right in the middle of the front area of her brain, all-important prefrontal cortex. "It was behind what I call or the third eye," she explains pointing to the center of her forehead just above her eyebrows. The doctors warned her she had a grim diagnosis, and that they didn't expect her to live, and if she did live it would likely be with medical support for the rest of her life. She would be unable to work or travel or take care of herself. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. The doctors removed the tumor and she did go on to live and to thrive.

Up until that point, her life had been fairly uninspired, and she had been existing without much passion or will to live, she recalls. but suddenly she found herself willing to fight for herself, and it inspired her to change her direction. She realized that she had to help others find that awakened feeling that she had experienced when faced with having it all taken away. Today a clinical psychologist, Dixit has started Woke Heroa to help Millennials find health, health, purpose, and love. As a therapist, she helps people find their authentic path in life, now they can participate in the journey, guided by her experiences.
"When someone tells you that your life might be taken away from you, it makes you want to live all that much more," she explains. "Before that, I wasn't really all that excited about my life, but when that happens, it makes you want to fight for life and change what you don't love."
Though Dixit had just gotten a business degree, she changed directions and became a therapist instead. As a clinical psychologist over many years she heard essentially the same conversation over and over again: "People were concerned with three primary areas of their lives: Wealth, and how to make it; health, and how to keep it; and love, and how to find it."
"These conversations were like a road map to the future. I could see what people were concerned with. During a stint at a tech company, she learned that Millennials and younger generations are the ones who are our teachers. If we can learn from how they think, we can solve the problems of our collective future.
The result of these major life events -- the brain tumor, her therapy work, and her realization that the future belongs to the next generation, and their biggest concerns, she has launched something called Woke Hero, a community platform that will help members solve their problems around wealth, health and love.
Woke Heroi launches on the Spring Equinox, a nod to the forward-leaning energy that welcomes us. But you can sign up to join now. Meanwhile hear how Dixit has recovered from not only the tumor in her brain but also PCOS and other ailments, by following a clean mostly plant-based diet. She grew up in India and there the norm is to be vegetarian, though she drank milk until she moved to the states and realized "milk here is not the same" and it gave her allergies and reactions she had never had before, due to how milk is raised and marketed in the US. Now her health is optimal and she wants to teach others how to be authentic, which will lead them to both wealth and love. Here is her inspiring story.

The Beet: First tell us about your plant-based diet. Did it help you recover?

Avantika Dixit: Growing up in India I didn't know how my morning tea infused with ginger & holy basil and sometimes strands of saffron & cardamom...or the daily bowl of lentils spiced with golden turmeric, pepper and cinnamon...or the banana chips cooked in virgin coconut oil...or the fermented rice idlis with chutney would all show up as superfoods around the world one day.
For me, it was just food! Plant-based foods are high in living energy or prana, as the yogis call it. What nutrition science around the world, informed by Nobel award-winning research on longevity, aging, epigenetics, and autophagy has discovered conclusively is that the diets of cultures and communities that incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets, live longer and with a significantly decreased risk of lifestyle diseases.
The Millennial spectrum generations are naturally gravitating towards lifestyle changes conducive to their own health and that of the planet. There has been an astronomical rise in the number of people adopting veganism, vegetarianism, or meat-free days. This is necessary to balance the carbon footprint on the planet from the mindless overconsumption of animal produce. I don't advocate forcing people who enjoy meat to give it up entirely. The objective is not deprivation. There are cultures that have genetically evolved to metabolize animal protein. But we can also evolve away from that now that we know better.
Yet everyone can benefit from adopting a predominantly plant-based diet, keeping their animal produce consumption humanely sourced, organic, and a smaller part of their overall diet. The Blue Zones of the world are key socio-geographic units where people routinely live disease-free for over 100 years. They live longer, but also they live well. They are known for having diets that are more than 80% plant-based. We should all aim for that.

 The Beet: Your health story and the founder’s story? How did you recover?

Avantika Dixit:  In two different seasons of my life, the first quarter of my life I had a brain tumor. This was quite a devastating condition. It was situated in a very important part of my brain, where the pre-frontal cortex is. The yogis would call that around the third eye, chakra. It was pretty important, considering this is the master organ of your body.

The Beet: How old were you when you learned you had a brain tumor?

Avantika Dixit: I had been having some issues since I was 17. But I was diagnosed with this when I was 22.

I was living in India and I was a very recent MBA grad, so I had my whole life ahead of me. You know, just starting out, about to get my first job and everything. There were a lot of things planned in my life, and that is when I received this diagnosis.

The Beet: Were you devastated? How did it unfold for you?

Avantika Dixit: Honestly, I think that that experience opened up more doors in my personal growth than anything else I’ve experienced. My mom is a doctor, and I was living in India. I had access to some of the best neurosurgeons and doctors in India. They gave me a pretty sobering diagnosis. They said, "Look this is what it is and it a pretty sensitive area of your anatomy and given its functions and everything its responsible for, the three primary areas of your anatomy, we are giving you a prognosis that you shouldn’t work, you can’t travel, you have to go through a surgery which will be 10.5 hrs long. There are 50/50 odds that you will make it or not, and if you do make it, you are going to need medical support all your life, because this is something we haven’t seen people bounce back from." So, they were doing their best to prepare me. This was the kindest way to say “Hey by the way. Forget about life, because this isn’t happening for you.”

The Beet: As a doctor, your mother must have been beside herself. What happened?

Dixit: So what happened was that ignorance is bliss, right? I can’t proclaim that at that point I had great wisdom and positive thinking and why you should meditate and all those things. I had no clue. All I knew was that until that point, I had put zero value on my life. I was a very unambitious person. I didn’t have directions or goals in my life. When I received this diagnosis that is when I realized that gosh I wouldn’t have all this desire to travel the world, see the world, to make something of my life. What that gave rise to was a desire to live. I was just going through the motions. Knowing that you are going to lose your life, or at least the quality of your life, really puts the desire to live back into you.

The Beet: So nearly dying... awakened the desire to live? How do we all get that?

Dixit: It doesn’t have to be a diagnosis or anything terrible. But in times of crisis and not really times of rainbows and sunshine, we learn what we are truly made of. So it doesn’t have to be a dire diagnosis or a crisis. But it might be something else that is disrupting our lives. It could be a financial crisis or a breakup.

When something plunges you out of the known world into the unknown world and you figure out what you are really made of. And you have choices and goodness that you can make. Long story short it worked out okay for me. I went through the surgery and got healthy.

Three years later I didn’t tolerate the medical support at all. I said that “look I am just going to come out of surgery and I am going to go back and join my life. Within a month I went and I rejoined my job, much against the advice of a lot of people. I think it was just about being creatively productive and occupied and doing things I love doing, taking care of myself. Having a really clean diet, meditating, and yoga.

The Beet: Tell me about your diet. Did eating plant-based help your recovery?

Dixit: I’ve been raised vegetarian. All my life I have been a non-meat eater. I did consume some dairy and some organic eggs, occasionally. But it’s less than five percent.

The Beet: That sounds basically plant-based. Doctors don’t talk about diet.

Dixit: You are right. We have to remember what we were born with. Every single day our body is going through so many changes and rebuilding itself, we literally regenerate a whole new body in about one year’s time and we reset a lot of metabolic functions.

When the neurosurgeons had a post-op follow-up three months later, when they looked at the whole thing, on an MRI they couldn’t believe it. They said “It was almost as if there hadn’t been any trauma in that area–like there hadn’t been any surgery. Everything has healed so beautifully." So I do believe in your states of consciousness in terms of joy, optimism and hope, and your diet. Both of them put together really work wonders.

The Beet: You're a therapist, so now you want to help others live healthier, happier?

Avantika Dixit: The largest living generation, that is going to shape the next 50 years, 70 years, and practically the whole century, belongs to the Millennials and younger.  The effects of them being on the planet are already being seen in a lot of things. Talk about diet: They are leaders in plant-forward choices. I believe it’s not a coincidence. I feel intuitively the universe has a progressive mechanism. I believe that intuitively these generations are coming primed with an understanding of what is "conscious eating" and that it’s good for their health and good for the health of the planet.

For mental health, the mind-body is connected to the energy of the food you eat. Everything responds beautifully and a plant-based diet is so conducive to what in India we call Prana, the living energy. If you think of anything on this planet that is fueled by the sun, every living organism gets its fuel from the sun. It is the simple plants.

The simpler the lifeform is able to transform that energy into a healing and restorative energy. It can actually switch your body from disease and decay to a very healing one. The Millenial generation is on a cusp, and they are caught between two worlds. On the one hand, they have a huge crisis and on the other hand, they have a huge opportunity to really transform. They can find a balance between those two worlds and embrace their own journeys, and the journey of the planet.

One hundred years ago the average lifespan on this planet was 35 years. ˜Now, the last few decades, the millennials, and anybody under 50, has the potential to live, easily, up to 100 or over. So, when I talk about being caught between crisis and opportunity it is really about that. It’s a crisis of individuation and a crisis of unification. The needs of the planetary and the individual.

The Beet: Leaning into plant-based helps the individual and the planet!

Dixit: Yes and there are other things as well. For the three years in private practice, I saw three thousand Millennials. I could see the universal. Intuitively they already kind of know. What I am doing is just giving language and structure to their own intuitive hero’s journey.

The thing that I have applied to this is the Hero’s journey model. The task I wish for them to undertake is to realize that if you are on a journey, you can actually feel it is rewarding and there is a way to navigate that. One is the actualization of income and impact so they can really walk the walk.

We can help them build wealth but also change the paradigm of wealth and other such forward-thinking models. It is absolutely important for these generations to know how to not just live longer but live well for long.

The Beet: So you want to help them build wealth and health since they're living to 100

Dixit: The interventions you take in your 20s, 30s, 40s are what set you up for success in your senior years. And the final one they need is to find love, so we help them work on their relationships. Sometimes this starts with tough love, detoxing, any toxic patterns in love, and connecting with those superpowers in the relationships that they already have.

The Beet: What makes you understand what people need?

Dixit: I started out as a clinical psychologist and then I spent 15 years in big tech, where I was a student in what people talk about. I was meeting with over 3,000 millennials. It was in 2015 that I kind of was really struck by the big picture, how this global existential crisis is really hitting the world. Especially this generation. That is when I kind of felt this calling to going back to being a therapist and I quit my tech job.

I regret my thirties. I thought it was something that I was going to do for personal joy but what snowballed. I would have about 20 clients a week in some weeks, and yet it would look like I was having the same session with every one of them.

The Beet: Every single therapy session was about wealth, health, and love?

Dixit: The issues we were discussing were so universal, they were pretty much having the same challenges. We also saw great breakthroughs. The conversations  I had with these clients were as if they were my teacher showing me the future. The future for these generations of younger people. The opportunity to get inside their minds and hear something that is a universal solution or practically everyone in that demographic is going through.

The Beet: This has been a tough year, how can people feel better?

Dixit: We just did a survey, and found that: 

  • 73% of respondents said they need to find ways to improve their mental health and overall well-being.
  • 65% of those surveyed feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to do to feel better.
  • 85% of respondents said that mind-body wellness is important to them, yet it seems they don’t know how to achieve it, which is exactly why we created Woke Hero.

Modern life has so many stressors and pain points that it’s difficult for people to know how to navigate through and get to where they want to be. When career, relationships or finances don’t go how you want, it leads to problems that can diminish wellbeing.

Yet there are many simple ways people can work towards a happier and healthy life every day.

The Beet: It's hard to be true to your vision and make money. What advice do you give?

Dixit: I would say that pick a balance. Everyone has to spend time getting outside their comfort zone. My model for well-living for millennials is to disrupt the way we think about success. The abundance you seek may not be from money. The fact is, 99 percent of lottery winners lose all their winnings within three years. Many millionaires are not happy.

Almost every one of the people you idolize came from humble beginnings. Their ticket to success has been about just being really authentic, so the best advice I would give is to unlock your cosmic signature. Everyone has the blueprint but you need a cosmic signature. You need the secret source for inviting abundance from the universe. Nothing else is really going to get you a job, a relationship, and inheritance. All of these things are just false paradise. The real source of — the secret source of abundance in today’s age and going forward is authenticity. And following one's path. Find that sweet spot, where your training, your expertise, your mission, your passion all intersect in one place.

The Beet: That's a great thought. What is your mantra?

Dixit: I am a spectrum of light. It's from a poem. We are all spectrums of light.