Judy’s love for nutrition began in the classroom. Her Introduction to Nutrition professor at the University of Maine bounded into the classroom, instantly enthralling students. Judy recalls how “it was infectious”.
Captivated by all things nutrition, Judy has held numerous nutritionist roles – from working in clinical settings to private practice – to help people better understand the intimate relationship between lifestyle and nutrition. Now, as an oncology nutritionist at the Dempsey Center, Judy provides nutrition consultations to people with a cancer diagnosis and their care partners.
Continue learning how Judy is providing support to those touched by cancer in her interview with AICR below!
Q: Can you describe your educational background and career path?
I have a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine. I completed my Dietetic Internship at the Medical College of Virginia Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.
I briefly worked in a clinical setting at Maine Medical Center, then transitioned to private practice, where I was able to balance work/family life, continuing in that role for 23 years. During that time, I primarily provided one-on-one nutrition counseling and I had also contracted with Bates College to work with students and its human resources department to provide staff wellness services. At present, I’ve been with the Dempsey Center for eight years and am a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group.
Q: Can you tell us about your work at the Dempsey Center and how it serves the cancer community?
We have two registered dietitian nutritionists at the Dempsey Center. We provide one-on-one nutrition consultations to people with a cancer diagnosis and their care partners. We have demonstration kitchens in our two locations (Lewiston and South Portland, Maine) and we regularly offer cooking and nutrition programs to our clients. Our programs are also offered through our virtual location, called Dempsey Connects.
We categorize our programs in two ways. Some are specific to managing the nutrition-related symptoms that people can experience during cancer treatment, and others are geared towards eating well for good health and cancer risk reduction.
A desire for assistance with nutrition brings a lot of people through our doors, and AICR is a great resource that we use in many ways.
Q: How did you discover AICR?
I initially found AICR through my internet research. Since then, I have attended two of AICR’s research conferences! AICR champions evidence-based research, and we really appreciate the information that AICR makes available when we want to “dig in” on the health benefits of certain foods with our clients.
Q: How does the Dempsey Center use AICR’s resources?
Many of our clients begin to question their diet when they receive a cancer diagnosis. They seek advice to weed through all the information they find on the internet or hear from others. I appreciate being able to refer them to evidence-based information on the AICR website.
I frequently refer my clients to AICR’s Foods that Fight Cancer resources to help them get a sense for what foods potentially help reduce risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
For folks in survivorship, I refer them to AICR’s Healthy10 Challenge. For our virtual six-week program called The Next Chapter (for people who are post-treatment and interested in ongoing support), I share my computer screen with the participants and together we visit various parts of AICR’s website, including the Healthy10 Challenge.
Q: How do the cancer patients and survivors that you work with benefit from AICR’s resources?
Clients that visit AICR’s website appreciate the evidence-based information and some have shared that they have tried some great recipes from there. Soy is always a challenging topic and I appreciate being able to refer clients with hormone-sensitive cancers to AICR’s website section specifically about soy.
Q: Have you seen the public awareness around nutrition/lifestyle and cancer risk evolving?
Yes, I believe that the tide has turned, and that our clients and the greater community are coming to terms with the fact that nutrition and lifestyle are intimately related to our health and the health of the planet.
We have two community gardens that I manage and are run by volunteers. We use the garden space for youth and adult educational programming to help people recognize the connection between plants and our overall health. The garden includes vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers. In addition to supporting the nutrition program, the center’s Movement and Fitness team coordinates yoga and Tai Chi programs in the garden space as well.
Garden volunteers harvested 400 pounds of produce from our gardens this year! This produce is used in our cooking classes and provided to clients to take home from classes (along with the recipes that were prepared). The majority of our produce, however, is used in our Comfort Soup Program, also volunteer-run. We prepare and freeze pint-size servings of nourishing soups to send home with clients who are struggling with their nutrition during treatment. We produced 300 pints of soup for clients this fall.
All of our programs and services are offered at no cost to our clients, regardless of their ability to pay. Like AICR, we believe in providing easy access to evidence-based resources for all!
Share your Story
If you share our passion for cancer prevention and quality survivorship, we would love to hear from you. Whatever your experience has been — whether you are a patient, caregiver, or loved one — AICR would be happy to add your story to this tapestry.