Friday, January 27, 2012

Slogging through paperwork ends with 'thanks'

Today I must have needed what I would call an 'introvert-type-of-day'. I cannot fully explain why. There were a couple of 'extrovert-type' of things I could and should have done today, but I just could not get myself out the door. I could think about this a bit more, or maybe not, at least not over-think it much.......

I spent the day, the entire day, wading through the piles of paperwork that have been building up on the desk in my part of the room that my husband and I will be using as our joint office at the farm. I have bird feeders right outside those windows, so there is always a bit of happiness to watch, mostly chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, blue jays, and downy woodpeckers coming to take their bit of the suet that is always there, even if they have gotten ahead of me and emptied the feeders of sunflower seeds. They were busy today; it was a constant show. Hmmm, I wonder if that might mean there is some snow coming?

When I talk about 'building up', I mean it. I have tried to keep up (or 'retire from' - ha!) a lot of my various professional activities that I do on a national level. Somehow, this does not happen. At least not completely. It must mean that I feel my work is not yet done. I don't get paid for any of this work. I will think about that more.............what am I trying to accomplish? Why?

So I got caught up on paying bills, sending sympathy cards, getting my business's part of our 2011 taxes organized, finalized, filled out, mailed, and ready to hand over to our accountant as part of the home/farm/me package of complexity. In addition, I got my 2012 business files ready.

The bigger job was re-organizing my various medical files and folders, sorting what all happened in 2011, and sending emails off to a couple of doctors to ensure they 'talk' to each other about me. I function as my own 'case manager'. All my doctors understand that is how I operate and how I need them to operate. This is the only part of my life where I know I am 'pushy'. Why? I remember the moment with crystal clarity that I realized my oncologist was not thinking about me 24 hours a day (I can smile about that moment now), so something was sure 'to get lost in translation' if I wasn't paying attention and doing my job to follow-up, follow-up, follow-up on the hundreds if not thousands of details necessary to keep me patched together. :-)

Next I wrote out ALL of the projects I am working on (hmm, just right now I thought of another small one and added it to the list), organized folders for all of these projects, got all the various paperwork and other stray notes/articles/etc into the folder for each project.

Last, I sorted through the checks ready to deposit from various places that sell my books, got the deposit slip ready, and then did all the computer/paperwork to keep track of all the books and money. Here is where my favorite thing finally happened. Finally!

When my books are purchased from The American Institute for Cancer Research (the non-profit organization where I have donated proceeds from my book's sales since 1999), the paperwork they send me identifies those people who have purchased 10 or more copies of my book (discounts are available for larger purchases like this!). I always enjoy taking the time to hand-write a thank you note to these people, thanking them for sharing my vision and mission of funding research focused on nutritional strategies that will optimize the long-term odds for both staying alive and optimizing the quality of life after a cancer diagnosis. (I wish I had the time to write everyone who purchases my book, from anywhere, but I do I hope you read this - I do thank you, too!)

These twin goals are not mutually exclusive, nor should they be ranked in order of priority. They are of equal importance to me, and I hope I speak for the majority of cancer survivors. Extended life of a lower quality is not an acceptable goal for cancer treatments or cancer survivorship.

I have deeply admired the words of John Greden, MD, the Director of The University of Michigan's Depression Center, when he says: "Better but not well is not good enough". I have used those eight words as my foundation and guiding light for the work I have done for cancer survivors. I cannot articulate a more comprehensive or succinct goal, and I still cannot imagine a cancer treatment center that thinks comprehensive cancer care does not include nutritional care from an oncology dietitian as part of its full-court press to try to win the game for each of its patients who trust it for the highest quality care. (Those of you who know me should be able to envision me shaking my head, sighing, even gritting my teeth a bit - now you all can envision that!) 

Which brings me back to my book, all my paperwork, etc. etc.

I envision and am working on my organic farm and in my community toward the day when my book is unnecessary, obsolete, or just a relic of the past because there is so little cancer being diagnosed. I would LOVE to take down my shingle as an 'accidental author', take it out of print and just take that part of what I do off my desk, off my computer, off my plate so to speak. However, with 1.4 million new cancer diagnoses in 2012 (it may even be 1.6 million, I cannot quickly find the 2012 projection) and people still writing me with such lovely and positive things to say about how my book helped them, I just cannot stop updating and reprinting it.

So again, to all of you who have purchased my book, whether one copy or 100 (even more), I thank you. I assure you that I was 'an accidental author', there was no vision, no long-term plan or desire to 'always write a book', no courage, no self-confidence, and no skills, so this book is clearly not 'about me'. This book is about you, for you, and for those people who will still be faced with the bewildering and frightening time of being diagnosed with cancer. Your purchase has and will continue to help AICR fund research to give hope for a very good life after that horrific day.

My hope (and the reason I can smile after doing a day of paperwork) is that my book gives you the information and inspiration you need to be well after cancer, not just better. :-)

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

(Thanks, Dr. Greden, for your words and the very important work you are doing to remove the stigma associated with mental illnesses and make wellness the only goal, not being satisfied with just, 'oh well............').

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