Serving Up Healthy Advice
The oncology dietitian at Shady Grove Adventist and Washington Adventist Hospitals offers valuable nutrition guidance for cancer patients
Nutrition plays an important role during cancer treatment and recovery. Eating well can help people who have cancer feel better and stay stronger while they battle their illness.
The cancer care teams at Shady Grove Adventist and Washington Adventist Hospitals include an outpatient oncology dietitian to help those who have cancer eat as healthfully as possible and stay well nourished during their cancer journeys.
Cynthia Clark, M.S., R.D., CSO, LDN, the coordinator of oncology nutrition for both hospitals, is one of only seven licensed oncology dietitians in Maryland.
“I work with our cancer patients to find creative solutions to help maximize their nutritional status before, during and after cancer treatments,” she says.
Helping Patients Stay Nourished
Among the many life-changing challenges of a cancer diagnosis may be a change in appetite.
“Certain cancers can make it very difficult to eat, chew and digest food, and absorb nutrients,” Clark adds. “It can put some people at high risk for malnutrition.”
Shady Grove Adventist and Washington Adventist Hospitals are committed to treating the whole person—physically, emotionally and spiritually.
“Providing an oncology nutrition expert on our cancer care team is foundational to our integrative care,” says Amy Carrier, Adventist HealthCare’s associate vice president of clinical service lines. “We are committed to supporting our patients every step of the way, and that includes helping them eat well. Eating well can help patients maintain their strength, fight off infection and feel stronger during their cancer journey.”
Clark coordinates with physicians as well as with the inpatient dietitians for continuity of care for patients as they leave the hospital and begin outpatient treatment.
If the cancer itself, or radiation or chemotherapy treatment, triggers appetite loss, nausea and other side effects, Clark can recommend appetite stimulants or meal modifications. She can also help cancer patients understand which vitamins and herbal supplements may be healthy and which may adversely interact with cancer drugs or other therapies.
Clark meets patients during all stages of their care at Shady Grove Adventist and Washington Adventist Hospitals and during treatment at the Shady Grove Adventist Radiation Oncology Centers at Rockville and Germantown.
Navigating Through the Cancer Journey
Wading through a cancer diagnosis and doctors’ appointments on top of everyday life can take its toll emotionally, physically and financially. Adventist HealthCare’s cancer care navigation team is there to help. Whether it’s arranging for a ride to an appointment, answering questions about diagnoses and care plans, or connecting patients to a variety of resources, the navigation team is an advocate for the local community.
The navigation team, made up of nurse navigators, oncology social workers and dietitians, is a guiding hand for patients. The individuals work closely with the medical team to see patients through the complex clinical and uniquely personal aspects of the cancer experience. They are there through diagnosis, treatment and recovery, and can be a resource for family, friends or anyone who has cancer related questions.