Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Another great gardening quotation

And a new one for me, so I just had to add it as a follow-up to my last post.

As long as one has a garden, one has a future.
As long as one has a future, one is alive. 

Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden, "In the Garden"

Now I want to re-read The Secret Garden, but that will have to wait until next winter. Weeding beckons for our garlic fields as does bed preparation for our family garden. In the meantime, I hope you nurture your future by getting your hands in the soil sometime this spring. :)

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Gardening as "Therapy"

I have my personal belief that gardening is the best all-encompassing and most effective type of complementary medicine, i.e. "therapy", that one could possibly choose for both healing and health. Thus the following poster brought a smile to my face this morning and thus I want to share it on my 'cancer victory gardens' blog, hoping it brings a smile to your face and an urge to get outside with your hands in the soil.

Well, the great part is you get so much more than tomatoes! I'll leave you with my two favorite quotes about gardening, and you'll get the idea of what I mean when I say gardening gives you so much more than tomatoes. :)

Gardening is a labor of love.
A treadmill is just labor.
~ Anonymous

Life begins the day you plant a garden.
~ Chinese Proverb

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cross post - Getting ready to 'launch'

I don't cross-post very often from my other blogs, but here is the scoop. I am getting close to having all my blogs and website (thus my brain!) under one umbrella at

No worries - if you only visit my CancerVictoryGardens blog, you will continue to only see those posts or that 'feed'.

Here is what I wrote on my dianadyer blog this morning. Now off for a break, getting outside to enjoy our spring weather (70's in the upper Midwest, even tho' it is still officially winter!), decide where my kale will be planted, get a bed ready for that, finish getting some more bluebird houses up, etc. etc. :)

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, March 4, 2012

For those that follow

I always feel like apologizing for my lack of posting on this blog. Pure and simple, there are not enough hours in a day to do everything I want to do.

I had the pleasure of sharing a day with dietetic interns at Western Michigan University last month and also meeting some of their faculty. I feel like I made at least a dozen new friends! One of the faculty members told me about a plaque that her dad (or grandfather?) had in his office that she now has in hers.

The message on the plaque fits so beautifully on this blog, which is about gardening for life, for memories, for the future, all of the above. No matter which reason each of us may start a Cancer Victory Garden™, I'll just guess that we end up thinking deeply about 'all of the above' during the times we are down on our knees with our hands in the earth.

My friend sent me a photo of her plaque, which I am sure that she reads with loving memories but also with an eye firmly on the future. No matter what she plants in her own garden, I know for certain that she is planting and nurturing seeds of professionalism in her student dietitians.

Thank you, Carol, for sharing your family with me and also sharing your commitment to health through whole foods with the future.

(Photo: The Talmud (Ta-anit 23a) from Carol Pratt, Kalamazoo, MI) 
Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Cancer Victory Garden!

I always start off my week by lighting candles of hope for all involved with a cancer journey at the website I send out that hope to everyone, the person with the diagnosis, all caregivers (professional, family, friends), plus all involved in the oncology research community. I always leave that website with a mix of feelings, yes, gratefulness, but also feelings ranging from melancholy to deep determination.

Today I had the exquisite pleasure of segueing directly from determination to pure inspiration and joy when I next opened up my Gmail email account (cancervictorygarden (at) gmail (dot) com) that I reserve for this blog to find a beautiful message from a young cancer survivor who embodies everything I had hoped to achieve with my CancerVictoryGardens blog. :-)

This young woman's own 'cancer victory garden' story and accompanying photographs brought tears to my eyes, tears of everything, from remembering tears of fear, tears of loss, tears of tentative hope, tears of resilience, tears of determination, tears of accomplishment, tears of wonder from self-discovery, tears of joy, tears of tentative hope again, tears of loving and being loved, tears of happiness from knowing I may have made a difference to one person. There are probably even more types of tears in that mix, too, but those give you some insight into the broad sweep of being inside my long cancer journey.

I am printing her story in its entirety. It is as clear as a bright, sunny day during a Michigan winter! Her accompanying photographs perfectly capture and convey the beauty and joy she has found in her life.

I'll sign off and then urge you to keep reading below my name where I am deeply honored to introduce and share Donna's Cancer Victory Garden in New Jersey. I hope the magic of the internet allows another person with a cancer diagnosis to find inspiration to live, and to live well after cancer by nourishing your own Cancer Victory Garden, no matter how small (start with one package of seeds in a pot) or where you live in this wide, wide world.  :-)

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Submitted by Donna H. of Camden, New Jersey
In 2008, during a routine mammogram, an eagle-eyed radiologist discovered my invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer. A double mastectomy and 4 rounds of chemotherapy followed.  I thought my life was over before it ever really began.  I was filled with regret over all my past missed opportunities and I grieved for things I believed that I would never have, such as a child of my own.  I struggled to find the strength to face my disease and endure treatment.  
During my recuperation from surgery, my mother bought me a pack of seeds and a pink gardening kit.  I was unimpressed.  I lived in an apartment and I had cancer.  I wasn’t in the mood to take on a new hobby, especially one that might involve bugs! My mom would not be deterred. She planted the seeds in a tray and placed it in my laundry room.  She left me strict instructions about watering, and when and how to repot the seedlings when the plants were large enough. 
So as not to disappoint her, I half-heartedly followed her instructions. I watered the tray of seeds and placed them in a sunny location.  I checked on them every day. After a few weeks, a funny thing started to happen.  I found myself looking forward to watching the progression of my little flower seedlings.  I was happy and more than a little excited when the plants were big enough to be transplanted.  After a few more weeks, as I neared the end of my chemo treatments, the flowers began to bloom.  .  I realized that the flowers symbolized so much for me about life and renewal and health.  I was transfixed by the lovely profusions of colors and textures and smells.  I rejoiced in the blossoms as much as I rejoiced at the end of chemotherapy. 
From then on, the strength and beauty found in something so delicate inspired me.  I discovered that I felt calmer and could forget about cancer when I tended to my flowers. Each day brought a new discovery about the plants. I realized that I loved digging in the dirt and caring for my plants.  (Bugs be damned!)  I enjoyed learning about the rhythms of life and how a little light, some water, and lots of love can produce something wondrous.  It felt good to feel the warmth of the sun on my bald head and my arms felt more flexible after a few rounds of weeding.  
Today, I have my own house with a little backyard. I grow flowers, organic vegetables and all sorts of plants.  This year I even I added strawberries.  My beautiful baby girl, whom I adopted last fall, enjoys being next to me outside while I weed, water and tend to my garden.   We take pleasure in nature and our souls benefit from all the beauty around us.  And my mom? She couldn’t be happier for her daughter, the gardener.  

(Donna receiving chemotherapy)
(Donna's first flowers from the seeds given to her by her mother)
(Donna's adopted daughter Bella, the perfect name for this beautiful baby)