Yolanda Foster hasn't been shy about her struggles with Lyme disease on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. This season alone, we've seen her undergo a vitamin C IV treatment, have her white gold crowns removed from her teeth, and get rid of her silicone breast implants. Though Yolanda undergoing so many medical treatments is one reason why some of her RHOBH castmates have questioned her illness, her health advocate April Daisy White, who has appeared on the show this season, has remained by her side through it all.
For the past year, Daisy has used her personal experience with chronic Lyme disease to coach Yolanda through this difficult time. In fact, it was Daisy's past life experiences, which include a tumultuous upbringing, being a sex worker, and a career in acting, that eventually put her on the path to helping others heal.
Daisy spoke to The Daily Dish about what it means to be a health advocate, Yolanda's journey with Lyme disease, and her diverse career over the years.
What’s your personal relationship to health and wellness?
April Daisy White: I came into health and wellness through a side door. I was born into a complicated upbringing, so I had no choice but to explore every possible avenue to mending my life. I dedicated to this fully: artistically, psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I remember knowing at an early age that I was committed to my own healing. I wanted to do all that it took to be healthy. My journey forced me to carve out the emotional part first; below that lurked many unresolved physical issues — that was part two: chronic Lyme and co-infections! Everything that I have helped others with comes from charting a similar journey. In many ways my own suffering has been an ordination to help others. By traveling the same path I have grown to understand what I never thought I could, a kind of sticktoitveness that is reserved for those with chronic illnesses. People have no idea how much chronic Lyme patients go through. We all suffer so much, and we belong to a tribe that is greatly misunderstood, and in too many ways invisible. But we never give up, we can’t afford to. Once I fully understood this journey myself, I swore that I would never let anyone go through that alone. It's crucial that people with chronic illness feel that they are being seen and understood. I understand the journey fully, not just cognitively, but in my own body — in my own heart and soul.
As far as working in health and wellness, I have been incredibly lucky to be mentored by the best. Dr. Klinghardt, and Sophia Health Institute, Dr. Kang, and too many along the way to mention. I have been very well mentored as a health advocate, and a wellness/life coach during my journey in the last 15 years. These mentors have taught me how to partner with others and find the best tools to recovery. At this stage of my life I know this work is my calling, I’m devoted to healing every day, for myself and everyone who makes the same commitment. There are so many people that need help.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
It’s been amazing working with Yo this last year because of her tenacity. Very few in her position have that. It’s also painful at times to ride the waves of the neverending ups and down of Lyme disease. I feel them all so deeply and working with someone as adorable as she is makes it easy to fall in love with her daily. In the lows, we have to dig deep and scrounge for hope in places where we don’t always know hope exists because there is no cure for Lyme disease. Many people with Lyme go through periods where they want to die; I’ve been there! It takes enormous trust to listen and partner in those bad days and not make it mean more than it really is in the moment. And… the gossip! Seeing not just Yolanda, someone I’ve grown to care about deeply under such public scrutiny but her children who are also in the midst of a difficult health journey while trying to grow their lives and careers. I have also helped Bella and Anwar in their road to wellness this year and to hear people doubt the truth of their diagnosis, of all three of them is heart-wrenching. I am on the front lines of their recovery daily. I know all three of their medical records inside and out. I have attended every doctor’s appointment so I know what’s true. Their diagnosis is on paper, in black and white. But this is a bigger conversation, a global one, and that is what’s so amazing about Yolanda as she knows that her journey is not just about her, but meant to teach us all that Lyme disease is bigger than our own backyards, literally. She is able to see past her own pain and bring Lyme into the public conversation. No one else has done that the way she has.
How long have you worked with Yolanda?
A full year! This week was our one-year anniversary. I wished her happy anniversary yesterday, we giggled. We’ve been through a lot together, some pretty wild and unconventional rides. I feel really proud of the progress she has made this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing her thrive more and more.
What about her Lyme disease case surprises you the most?
Nothing and everything! No one battling Lyme disease has a run-of-the-mill experience. Lyme is like taking confetti and throwing it into a high wind and watching it land. Each patient’s symptoms are that different! It's hard to make sense and order of our lives when we are all so different.
That said, after four years Yolanda’s recovering steadily after such a long and difficult journey. But that’s not surprising. What's surprising is how solid she remains in the face of all obstacles. It's a complicated case, as you all know there have been many factors, trials, losses, and tribulations, i.e. silicone toxicity from ruptured implants inhibiting her body from fighting, dental amalgams, co-infections, public opinions, personal opinions, personal trials. But she remains steady. That is surprising! But the more I know her the less it surprises me — it’s just who she is. She’s been around the world, some people would say guinea pigging herself for the cause, but it's not as a martyr; it’s a genuine quest for the unknown outside the realm of both traditional Western medicine and alternative medicine. She is a true seeker. She is fiercely dedicated to making a change. That’s not usual. The fact that she is capable of living through her pain in public as an example for true transformation is surprising. As a community, there is so much to be learned from her experiences and people are drawn to her bravery as an inspiration. That is not surprising. She moves us all.
How would you describe Yolanda in three words?
Yolanda is a soulful person living on a different vibration than most. How do I sum up such a soulful person? Thirty words would be better. Dedicated! Determined! Resilient! Magnanimous! OK, four. I tried.
What do you think are the most important things a person can do to stay healthy?
Trust your inner voice. Stay in communication. Eat right. Stay honest. Stay open. Know your body. Know your family history. Never settle for a diagnosis or a treatment unless you feel 100 percent right about it. Be your own advocate. Ask questions. Ask for help. Take supplements, and check in with your body regularly. I believe in applied kinesiology to tell you what your body needs. Find a good person who can muscle test you and tell you your body’s story. Learn that your body holds all the answers. Never give up. Never settle. There is always support. Demand better. I think that many chronic unsolved cases could have Lyme as a backdrop, but the credibility is not there yet for us as a culture. Most outside-the-box, brilliant doctors who get it are teaching this. Sadly we have more roads to plow before we all get it.
You’ve had such a diverse career over the years. What made you want to transition from acting and writing to working in health and wellness?
Acting and writing for me were an outlet for healing, although I probably didn't always know that. I wrote a one-person show about my life — where and how I grew up, the conditions of my abuse and early sexual abuse, the choices I made, how I was led into childhood prostitution before knowing its name and then became an international call girl, and how the truths of it all set me free. Speaking truthfully about my past changed me, resolved me. That freedom opened up new avenues of true healing for me. One of which was my physical healing journey. Another was meeting my husband. Another was dedicating myself to helping others heal. Writing has been a gateway to healing for me.
Daisy and her husband Matthew Pomerantz on their second wedding anniversary. The couple also adopted a son named Jazz.
Do you ever miss performing?
Acting was my first vehicle for expression. But today it's not always in service of my life being in service of others. I love the catharsis of acting. I love expression of all kinds. I think it's a mandatory part of growing. It's always there if should I choose and it never feels gone.
Will you return to acting in the future?
There would have to be some type of deep contribution in it for me.
What was your involvement in the book Hos, Hookers, Call Girls, and Rent Boys?
My friend David Sterry was putting an anthology together for what at the time was a disenfranchised community: sex workers. He coined the phrase “the sex worker literati.” He asked if I would contribute. I wrote a chapter. It’s about my first experience as an adolescent when I was paid for being sexualized. I was honored to be included in the book. I have fully owned my past and my transformation through prostitution. I have no guilt or shame about it, and I am proud to have shed light onto a part of humanity that was not well expressed at the time.
Do you have plans to write or contribute to any additional books?
I've been writing and coaching writers now for over a decade. As I did with actors, it was always more like artistic midwifery. A birthing process! I help my clients get out of their own way in telling their story with an authentic voice. I help people in all ways express their truths, their stories, their suffering, their authentic journey, as I have expressed mine. I will always continue this process. Writing is a huge part of the healing journey. I am a billion percent behind this mission as my life’s work.