These are both generalizations, of course, but there is way more than a kernel of truth on both sides of this statement. Yes, I have been trying to make and inspire changes in both of these arenas, in addition to agriculture for many years now. As only one example, I remember asking my oncologist in 1995 why his nationally-ranked cancer center had no dietitian on staff, let alone staffed in a way that all ~10,000 unique patients (at that time) treated annually at this cancer center could have access to one.
That cancer center thankfully now has some RDs (however still woefully understaffed), but the large (also highly regarded) community cancer center across town has no RD (none) dedicated to their oncology outpatients.
I confess that I don't know what it's going to take to truly change either side of this statement. I used to wake up at night and find I was thinking about the barriers (real, perceived, or worse, created) to having RDs as full and equal professional members of truly comprehensive cancer treatment facilities, especially now that RDs can become CSO's, certified in oncology nutrition! And what cancer center/facility doesn't try to use that term 'comprehensive' when advertising their services?
I also confess that I have now given up thinking about or working actively on this hope, which seems like a 'no-brainer' to me and to every person I have ever met with a cancer diagnosis (plus many who have not had to endure this themselves or with a loved one). The response from those who have not gone through the cancer treatment ordeal is usually something like "What??? There is no one addressing a person's individual nutritional needs after a cancer diagnosis? What? That makes no sense." Then what often follows is a little cynical and sad laugh with the comment and sigh....... "Oh well, why should I be surprised at that?" (Truthfully, I have not totally given up my dream of having RDs in cancer centers where they are needed, but instead I am hoping that some of the seeds I have planted while speaking around the country since 1997 will be nurtured and cultivated by others to achieve true comprehensive cancer care ..........)
Know your farmers, know your foods, nourish your health. I think that is the best I can personally and professionally do now, shifting my focus to cancer prevention by trying to make changes in my own little corner of the world, 'shaping our future from the ground up' (our farm's mission).
To be honest though, there are two things about this photo that make me both very happy and hopeful: 1) the fact that one of my sons posted this photo on his Facebook page and 2) on the old Facebook format, this same son had listed Wendell Berry (poet, author, Kentucky farmer, activist, National Humanities Medal Winner - 2011) as someone who inspired him, which makes his mother sleep well at night and is what I'll be thinking about if I wake up tonight. :)
Step, step, step, I do believe there is hope for the future health of our communities, and it will be the young people leading the way. I am grateful beyond words to have the chance to finally be an 'old-new' organic farmers, but my husband and I will be playing supportive roles in the future. I am happy knowing that. :)
Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD