Despite my passion for food and nutrition, becoming a dietitian wasn’t part of the plan as an eighteen year-old headed to college. To be honest, the required classes like biochemistry and organic chemistry steered me away. So, off to the business school I went; majoring in Business Administration with Leadership and Management.
As a college athlete, nutrition continued to be important in my life as I strived to stay fueled for the long demanding practices and game days for optimal physical performance. The further I went into the business program, the more I felt like I was stuck in a field I didn’t love.
It truly was my boyfriend, now husband, who always encouraged me to switch to nutrition. I always told him it was too late to switch, yet he encouraged me it was not. At the time, I still was convinced I would have to leave the nutrition career behind.
It wasn’t until my senior year when I took a nutrition class with one of my good friends, Erica, until I realized nutrition truly was my passion. I loved going to class, studying for the exams, and completing the projects. During class, Erica and I talked about our career dreams—both had nothing to do with the degrees we were just weeks away from completing. I told Erica I wanted to be a dietitian but I would probably wait until my future family was grown. Erica, an English major, told me she wanted to be a mountain guider (yes, it is a real thing).
Turns out, I became a dietitian and Erica is living in British Columbia, Canada and climbing every mountain in sight.
After graduating with my business degree, I moved back home and decided to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in dietetics. However, my interest changed from sports nutrition to oncology nutrition. At this point in my life, cancer was all too prevalent in my family. My maternal grandmother passed away from lung cancer; my mom, paternal grandmother, and godmother had all battled breast cancer; and my maternal grandfather had passed from liver cancer shortly after my graduation. With the unfortunate battles with cancer and the recent passing of my paternal grandfather from ALS, I couldn’t help but wonder how nutrition could have helped prevent disease, impacted treatment, and to this day prevent recurrence in those who became cancer survivors.
Thankfully, with the perfect timing of events and the opportunity to intern for a well-known cancer center, I focused on oncology care. Shortly after graduation, the cancer center hired me full-time and my dream job became a reality. I now find myself at a different cancer center but am still pursuing my dream with even more opportunity.
By day, I am an outpatient oncology dietitian working with patients during cancer treatment to ensure adequate nutrition and symptom relief. I also work with patients who completed treatment and are seeking weight loss, healthy lifestyle changes, and/or risk reduction of recurrence.
Outside of the cancer center, I focus on Wholesome LLC to provide individual counseling, classes and seminars to promote a wholesome diet. By focusing on a wholesome diet, together we can help manage and prevent chronic diseases.