Like many of us, Jo Moore of Marion, Iowa, has struggled with weight control over the years. While not a big eater, Moore observed “the weight just likes me” and she couldn’t seem to shed those pesky excess pounds.
Then came her 2012 diagnosis of stage 1 colon cancer. Fortunately, her cancer was discovered early. After surgery in April 2012, she has remained in good health and is cancer-free.
But Moore knew she had multiple risk factors, including age and family history, which put her at risk for a recurrence of the disease. She soon learned her weight and diet added to her risk.
“Cancer risk increases with weight gain,” explains Beth Beckett, RD, CSO, LD, dietitian with the Helen G. Nassif Community Cancer Center. “Colon cancer in particular is affected by eight and food choices—not just how much you eat, but what you eat.”
In the fall of 2012, Moore’s oncologist at Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa Hematology & Oncology, referred her to the Wellness Program at the Community Cancer Center. Moore began working closely with Beckett as well as with Cancer Exercise Specialist Matt Schmitz. Beckett says the team individualizes its approach for each patient and makes sure they feel supported. “This is a partnership,” explains Beckett. “Matt and I work together to help Jo meet her goals.” That includes helping Moore make healthier food choices.
Moore says she and her husband Jay Support team helps survivor adopt a healthier lifestyle both love fruits and vegetables, so adding more of those to their diet was the easy part. In addition, the couple replaced regular milk with almond milk (“it tastes very good and has fewer calories!”), switched from canned vegetables that are high in sodium to healthier frozen versions, and use very little salt.
More than Weight Loss
“I’ve lost about 30 pounds working with Beth,” says Moore. Beckett shares recipes with Moore and taught her the importance of reading labels. She also introduced Moore to MyFitnessPal, an online calorie-tracking tool, and they meet once a week to review Moore’s progress and challenges.
“We’re not focused on the sheer amount of weight loss,” explains Beckett. “What’s great about Jo is she’s so positive and has been able to sustain her lifestyle change.” Beckett stresses adopting a better diet is not about depriving yourself of the things you like, but about striking a healthy balance. In addition to the nutrition support Moore receives, she works out in the Community Cancer Center gym and takes a weekly Tai Chi class. “It’s a simple-looking exercise,” says Moore, “but so relaxing!”
As Jo Moore looks forward to her 80th birthday, she continues to be monitored for colon cancer and continues to work with her support team at the Community Cancer Center. “I tell Beth she’s my inspiration,” says Moore, “And I’m doing great!”