December 22, 2011
A Whole New World
It's been a month of soul searching, with a lot of soul-finding.
I've discovered that my passion for preventing chronic disease is matched by my new-found passion for health policy. My health policy class was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. I met people from all over health care: pharmacists, nurses, physicians, a quality and safety officer, and people with years of experience in health care administration. They opened my eyes to possibilities that I had never dreamed of, and to ways that my ideal of stopping chronic disease before it starts can be implemented. I feel terrified for our current health care system, but hopeful for the future.
My Masters in Public Health program at Jefferson has been the most important educational experience of my life. I have been transformed. No longer do I see things purely through the lens of class warfare, though I will always be on the side of the workers, when there is a dispute. I see the crisis in our health care system as one where all the parties must join together to fight disease. The enemy is disease and disability. We do a good job at treating disease, but are much less adept at prevention. If I could go back in time forty years and find out what exactly caused my step-mother's breast cancer and fix it, or my mother's stroke, I would. But I can't. As an epidemiologist, I can't help but look at people as cases and controls. Why do some get sick and others don't? I look at my niece Madeline, who is seven, and has breast cancer on both sides of her family, both her mother and her aunt. The urgency to find a way to prevent disease reaches a fever pitch when I think of her. "Never Madeline!" is my current battle cry.
And not just my well-insured, well-nourished Madeline whose wonderful parents are raising her with every advantage to help her be healthy later in life. They model healthy eating and exercise and they involve the children in activities that build their strength and balance. Their current favorite is kid-karate, which they call Ninja School. What about all the other Madelines, who don't have so many advantages? Who is going to call their parents to remind them to get their kids in for vaccines when they don't show up because they don't have transportation? Who is going to figure out how to end the childhood obesity problem that will bankrupt our nation's healthcare system as these kids grow up?
The key to prevention is a long term strategy that looks at patients as long term investments, not as risks to be unloaded when they become ill. We learned in my health policy class how Patient Centered Medical Homes, Accountable Care Organizations and Integrated Delivery Systems can do this. I've learned from epidemiology just how important prevention is. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer are largely preventable: if we begin prevention early enough. Yet our current system focuses too much on sickness rather than wellness, rewarding over-testing and over-treating while starving simpler, cheaper preventive measures. The incentives in our health care system are broken and I want to fix them.
My health policy professor, Dr. Lynne Matthews, has been a fairy godmother to me. She encouraged this union organizer to think big, apply my knowledge and skills to the problems of health policy, but also open my mind to new perspectives. Her unfailing support has been a large part of what got me through a sad time, and I look forward to being colleagues forever.
I am moving in new directions, and have decided that keeping up this blog no longer makes sense. I continue to practice moderate CR with lots of yoga and exercise for my own health, and I encourage those who are interested to do so, but I do not wish to be a spokeperson for CR. As a public health advocate, I do not want my personal practice of CR to be confused with any public health recommendation I might make.
I'm so grateful to all of you, for your love and support and comments and questions. For sharing your journeys with me. This has been an incredible 7 year experiment.
I'm giving you some notice so you can download your favorite back entries. But soon, I'll be taking the blog down.
You've given me the courage to follow my dreams. Now I'm going off to follow them, wherever they may lead.
I'll let Bruce Hornsby, in a song he wrote but Huey Lewis made popular, "Jacob's Ladder," have the last word for now. It's how I feel for our health care system, and what I wish for all of us.
"All I want from tomorrow is to get it better than today!"
Posted by april at December 22, 2011 8:09 AM
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the years of your blog. You have taught me more than you can possibly imagine, and you have been a wonderful froend when I needed you. I cannot emphasise enough just how much your writing about CR has resulted in me being stronger, healthier and happier.
If you decide to write another blog, or indeed if you decide to write elsewhere, you will let us know? Please? Pretty please?!
Posted by: Lindsay at December 22, 2011 10:28 AM
Oh I have always had a feeling this was going to happen. I am so curious to know...why...And why do you call it a "seven year -experiment-"
Lovely soul, what on your journey has changed?!
I practiced CR before I took the turn into raw veganism. I sense you may have found something better for your personal journey too.
Take care and may you make great strides in whatever you have chosen. I absolutely loved your blog. Learned so much from it. Please let us know if you decide to begin another one.
Posted by: Lyza at December 22, 2011 1:25 PM
You will be missed.
Posted by: David at December 22, 2011 3:23 PM
Noooooo! I don't know if I can accept your resignation April. I'll miss this. But if you must save the world instead, you must! :) Maybe you should writ a public health blog?
Posted by: Nancy at December 22, 2011 8:02 PM
Wow. I wasn't expecting a valedictory message here! Congratulations on your decision and on all the amazing work that you do. I'm sure I'll continue to hear from and about you, even if you're not going to maintain this blog. I totally understand the decision: it can so muddy the waters when you're identified with one thing and trying to crusade for something else in a straightforward way.
Posted by: Ela at December 22, 2011 9:53 PM
I am new to CRON and only just discovered your blog two weeks ago. I'm sorry to see you packing it up so soon after.
Wishing you well on your future endeavors.
Posted by: Julia at December 24, 2011 3:58 AM
Aw - I'm going to assume your career is taking a turn towards where your passions are leading you. Loved the blog the last 3 years I've been reading. Hope all continues to go great for you. Thank you for writing for so long and sharing your life w all of us.
Posted by: Ag at December 25, 2011 9:28 AM
Congrats & kudos on your continued growth and passion. I have been a reader from the beginning and look forward to seeing the other great things you accomplish. My personal path is leading toward quality/process improvement & I hope to be finished with my MSN in a year. Hope to be walking alongside you in the prevention journey--kickin' ass & takin' names!
Posted by: Sheila Singleton at December 26, 2011 7:23 AM
Sorry to see you go! Best of luck in your future endeavors.
Can you "bump" some of your more popular entries, such as the one with all those links to how to start, the Julian Dibble article, etc...I would like to copy some of that stuff.
Posted by: emma at January 1, 2012 8:05 AM
do you really want to know how prevention really happens. ignore MR for a week and read joel fuhrman. start with Super Immunity and Eat to Live. No kidding. follow what he says and a lot will fall into place. best on your new endeavors, rh
Posted by: randy at January 1, 2012 7:43 PM
OMG. Just saw your post. Just a thanks for all your support and friendship over the past however many years I've been reading your blog. I will always admire your strength in standing up for what you think is right. Keep up the good work! Good luck in the future.
Posted by: Amy at January 2, 2012 8:50 AM
I have learned so much from your blog and will miss you dearly. I agree whole heartedly that what we eat has the power to change our lives. I tell my students (I am a professor) that "Food is the new pharmaceutical" but really, this concept is not new it has just been derailed. I live in the Philly area, and I hope that sometime our paths will cross. All the best -
Posted by: Jackie at January 2, 2012 5:07 PM
This year was my first christmas away from home. I had guests over for dinner and we spent a wonderful evening in conversation, enjoying the candlelight, the smell of the tree – just the beautiful atmosphere of Christmas. When I looked over the cr-friendly dishes I thought of you and how you have fundamentally changed my view of nourishment and life. You have made my life richer, by showing how to choose quality over quantity, how to make smart choices while having more fun. Only looking back I can see how there has been a real shift in mindset with regard to food and celebration for me. You have changed my life so much that it changed what I want to give to others and how I express my affection. I’m not a fancy cook, that’s for sure, but I do like to provide life-giving food to my loved ones, just as I want everyone to have a nice woolen blanket, because it’s drafty in my hall. What I learned from you has changed what I value today, what I am doing right now and that’s about more than what I eat for breakfast. I’ll miss taking part in your journey, your blog has been part of my life for the last six years now. I wish for you to find fulfilment in following you passions and dreams. Marianne
Posted by: Marianne at January 5, 2012 5:12 AM
I'm not sure where to start. Your Blog is the one thing I read every morning at work. I have been reading your blogs since 2006 because I saw a news segment(20/20, I think) about CR and that lead me to your blog.
You make me feel impowered with food. I would always try to copy what you ate for the day and for the most part its works good for me. I am only 4'11 so having extra weight and not being healthy is just not acceptable.
I loved seeing the daily crunch, I loved seeing the list of what you ate, and the recipes you created.
I should be able to take those values I learned from you and move forward on my own.
Glad to know the decision to move on to other adventures was yours.
Please let me know if you ever start another blog Or better yet Publish your own recipes with your food journal.
I WILL TOTALLY MISS YOUR BLOG...THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH.
Long time reader 2006,
Posted by: Carmela at January 19, 2012 3:10 PM
Wow. While I respect the reasoning behind your decision, I'm truly saddened to see you go, April. I've been following you on this journey of yours for the past seven years, implementing and experimenting as well, and will miss your insights dearly. I fully expect, however, to see your name again, captioned under pictures of your red hair and youthful good looks, in both the near and distant future. Here's wishing you all the best.
Posted by: Samantha Clark at January 22, 2012 9:24 PM
Wherever your road may take you, I hope you always hold on to your burning passion for repairing the world. You continue to inspire me. Thank you for all that you have done and will do.
Posted by: Robin at January 26, 2012 5:20 PM