Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Shelly's Cancer Victory Garden

I was pleasantly surprised to find this email message waiting in my inbox! Shelly gave me permission to share her experience with gardening (complete with photos!) with the hope that the joy she finds in her garden wll both inspire and empower another cancer survivor.

Hello Diana:

I too am a Registered Dietitian (RD) and am currently undergoing treatment (clinical trials) for stage 4 melanoma. I have been on treatment since my diagnosis 3 years ago, but am doing extremely well - having learned to wake-surf behind our ski boat this summer and with a trip planned to Southeast Asia this January. I previously worked in a children's hospital in Dayton, OH - but now focus on my joy, and taking care of myself.

In addition, I am heavily involved as the Nutrition Educator for the Noble Circle Project (www.noblecircle.org), which is a grass-roots organization focusing on empowering women in the Dayton area for thriving beyond cancer via whole foods nutrition, exposure to complementary medicine forms such a Qi Gong, and group support.

I have been involved with Noble Circle since 2006, and I emphasize a whole-foods based diet. Really getting in significant quantities of high-quality vegetables and whole grains, and then tailoring the diet to work for the individual woman's needs and choices, whether she is vegetarian takes supplements, juices, etc. You may find on the Nobe Circle's website (which is due for a upgrade) that they started out with some pretty far-out ideas that I think were a little extreme for the average participant in our program. I really emphasize that making dietary changes is good, but also how you approach the diet and cancer journey is important: taking it easy on yourself and not using diet as another way to beat up on yourself. I try to move people away from fearing food, and finding ways to be more intimately connected with it - learning how to grow it, cook it etc...I try to emphasize the passion and joy available to us through our food.

I was inspired by your blog, actually all of them, and have been thinking of sharing pictures of my garden with you. My husband and I converted our entire backyard to garden 3 years ago, and as both of us are recovering engineers, we installed a drip line watering system which is automatically controlled. We are away for pretty long periods of time during the summer so it is nice to have the irrigation in place. I think some of the pictures show pretty well how the houses in our neighborhood are very close together, so it proves that you don't need a whole lot of space to grow a significant amount of food!

I plan to expose the ladies I teach nutrition to, to your blogs. We already have your book in our Noble Circle Lending Library. I thought you would enjoy the photos - and now I am off to harvest more brassica and crucifers....

Shelly Knupp. RD

Many thanks for sharing your joy of gardening, Shelly! My husband and I are going to install a drip-irrigation system in the large garlic beds at our new farm, too. I can't wait to have that feature in place and working! However, this summer we would not have needed it. In fact, although it rained and rained in spring and early summer, it finally dried up enough in July to harvest our garlic without it molding in the ground.

Many thanks also for all you are doing to help others during their cancer survivorship journey to become cancer 'thrivers'! The Dayton, Ohio area and The Noble Circle Project are certainly fortunate to have you sharing your professional expertise, passions, and compassion within their collective communities.

I hope our paths cross in the future at some point. Until then, I send you a cyber-hug and all my best wishes for continued health, healing, hope, and great gardening!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD