Friday, November 22, 2019

Passing the Torch

All good things, even great things, come to an end.

You can see that it's been over 3-1/2 years since I last posted on my blog.

A LOT has happened. That's an understatement.

To be as succinct as possible, I was hit by a car that drove through our farmer's market booth at high speed in June 2016. To also be as succinct as possible, it is NOT an understatement to say that I have come a long way since that horrific day. I've been healing from broken bones, a battered body, and a brain injury since that time. I'm not done improving yet, but just a few weeks ago, I finally put all my therapy "on pause".

I repeat that I have come a long way, for which I am deeply, deeply grateful, but I also still have significant challenges. It's time to see just what exactly is my "new normal" without the toll that therapy itself takes on a weekly basis. It's time to see just what I can do, what I can work on improving by myself, where my weaknesses still are, what do I want to do, and if I can keep improving by myself. Pause .......... breathe ......... take stock ........ breathe again .......... pick myself up ........... again ......... and express daily gratitude for the abilities that I do have.

Without going into all the details, it's enough to say that this was a "big hit". We needed to stop farming at the scale we were doing (we still live on our farm, other young farmers have been using our land), my husband (and friends and family) became a daily caregiver, I never got the 20th anniversary edition of my book published, I declined or pulled out of nearly everything (and at one point my doctor told me to STOP trying to keep up with my responsibilities), therapy was late getting started, therapy was interrupted, and we found out the hard way that we needed to wrestle with the tangled web of medical care, insurance companies, and the legal system. Enough!

Perhaps more than my doctor telling me to stop trying to do so much after I was hit, perhaps the Universe was telling me (the hard way) to slow down. To slow down! To stop trying to do so much. To change focus. To change direction. Who can say?

To bring you all up to date since 2016, here are some of the important updates, changes I've made, decisions I've made, a new direction or two as I figure out just what I can do, what my husband and I want to do, and more.

• My book A Dietitian's Cancer Story is now officially out of print. I have seen it available on various book re-seller websites. All books that I still had in my garage (both English and Spanish editions) have now been donated to various cancer efforts where they will be put to good use. As you can imagine, taking my book out of print after first writing and publishing it in 1997, continuing to update, improve, and reprint it, was a big big big (HARD) decision.

• My website (first put up on the web in 1997, even before the American Cancer Society or even the National Cancer Institute had websites) will be removed from the web very soon if it has not already disappeared. Besides pointing people to various places where my book could be purchased, I had already shifted the substantial and very popular Q&A section of my website over to the professional website for oncology dietitians at, so that important content is still available to the public.

• My blogs 365DaysofKale and CancerVictoryGardens will also disappear soon. For the time being, I'll keep my blog, although I'm not sure what I'll do with it at this juncture.

• I am still a registered dietitian (RD). I won't go into detail regarding what I had to do, and how hard it was, to finish up my outstanding CEUs to maintain my registration roughly 2 years after I was hit. It is enough to say that doing so was a BIG DEAL. My Speech and Language therapist cried with happiness and pride at my accomplishment.

• I still love writing. It is something I can do, and again, doing so is a major accomplishment after a brain injury. Currently my writing is over on our farm's Instagram site. It focuses on what is happening on our farm, the wild birds and other animals we see on our farm, plus comments and helpful resources regarding the current climate emergency our planet is experiencing. (Tips: 1) buy organic food, locally grown when possible, 2) don't waste any food. 3) plant only native plants on your land that are meant to grow in your eco-zone, not just your hardiness zone. These are the easy steps, the low-hanging fruit.)

• If you are reading this while still a dietetic student or dietetic intern, know that I just loved, loved, loved being a small part of the education for the students who came to live or work with us on our certified organic farm. Sadly, I simply cannot continue to offer this experience. Of all the different things I have done as an RD, I will miss this the most of all. Bottom lines: Health starts in the soil. "We are what - and how - we grow" is the starting point for personal health and a healthy food system. Dietitians have a responsibility to advocate for systems that lead to public health, not corporate wealth.

• For current and future RDs, know that you will have impact during your career. Decide where you want that impact to be and how big you want that impact to be. Be the BEST you can be. Always seek out new skills and further develop the skills and knowledge you already have. Be BRAVE. Don't be afraid to sell yourself as an RD to an organization that does not know yet how the skills and knowledge you bring as an RD will benefit both the organization and the people they serve. In addition, don't be afraid to do something alone like I have done, finding like-minded partners along the way!

For anyone who has read my book either as a person with a cancer diagnosis or as a cancer caregiver, thank you for putting your trust in me. The endowment I established at The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) in the late 1990's has funded numerous important research projects over the past 20 years that will continue to benefit cancer survivors. I am no longer donating proceeds from the sale of my books to this endowment, but individual donations (link above) are always welcome and will be used to fund ongoing research focused on defining optimal nutritional strategies to enhance cancer survivorship.

Thank you for reading my blog since 2007! I send all my readers best wishes for health, healing, and hope as you continue to "cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row".

Love, Diana Dyer, MS, RD