Timothy Schoonmaker, who has worked with Proco since he came to Lynchburg as Centra’s director of nutrition services five years ago, described clinical dietitians as people who might not be at the forefront of care but are key behind the scenes to ensuring someone’s nutrition is a supportive part of their treatment.
“Most of our journey is spent on leadership,” he said, including teaching and coaching front-line workers and hosting support groups and classes.
And just like treatment plans, that focus on nutrition is something tailored to each person’s health needs along with other life factors.
Diet and nutrition aren’t absolutes. Proco said no foods are perfect, moderation is key, “all foods can fit,” and she’s learned that speed and efficiency are important factors to consider when people plan to eat healthy.
“To me, it is so important to make sure that I am telling patients things that are practical,” she said.
As Proco started to consider retirement, the dietitian working at Pearson told her about a potential opening for someone to work a few hours there as its programming expands. Between the timing and Proco’s interest in cancer treatment, she said it was a perfect opportunity — and the shorter hours involved would fit well with a post-retirement lifestyle.