For the blog post today, I decided to go back to the basics.
Just what is Maple Tree? What are we all about?
Many of you have been with us since the very beginning, and you already know the answer to these questions. Maybe you are a long time friend or family member of mine, and you’ve heard me dream about Maple Tree since waaaaay before it was a tiny seedling. Perhaps you were among our very first group of patients we served in 2012, and have been a loyal friend ever since.
Maybe you’ve only recently stumbled upon Maple Tree, and you think you like what you see but you really don’t know what purpose we serve.
So, to introduce myself – I am Karen Wonders, the Founder and Executive Director of Maple Tree….and the writer of this blog. Well, at least most of these blog posts, anyway.
I officially started Maple Tree in 2011.
Unofficially, it began many years before then.
Honestly, I think the dream of Maple Tree was born in my heart the day I worked with my very first patient back in 2003.
She was a young mom who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
At the time, I worried that someone with cancer would be too sick or too tired to exercise. I honestly didn’t think I would be able to make much of an impact on anyone I worked with.
But when I met that young mom – and her daughter, whom she had brought with her to her exercise appointment – everything changed.
I understood that making the choice to exercise was making the choice to fight cancer back. So much about cancer is beyond our control. Exercise allows someone to actively take a stand and focus on all the things that are within their control.
Since then, I’ve spent 17 years conducting research on all the benefits of exercise. I am a firm believer that exercise is one of the most important things someone can do when they battle cancer.
This is why we offer individualized exercise training.
In addition to exercising, I also believe that sound nutrition is key. Poor nutrition habits are linked to more than 80,000 cancer cases every year, and are among the list of modifiable lifestyle factors linked to 45% of cancer deaths each year.
Every single time you put food into your body, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.
But…honestly, I get it. It’s not as simple as flipping a switch and telling yourself you just won’t eat the “bad stuff” anymore.
There is a real and powerful link between our emotions and food.
I have experienced this first hand the last few weeks as I’ve walked through the grieving process. I’ll admit, on the days I have been the saddest, my diet has been the worst.
A salad is quite possibly the very last thing we want when we are hurting.
This is why Maple Tree provides sound nutritional education for our patients each month. It is also why we spend so much time on social media trying to help you put these tips into practice.
Because we probably all know we should eat healthy. Doing it is another story all together!
Research demonstrates, and thousands of patient testimonials support, that eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly will improve quality of life, ease symptom burden, and decrease the likelihood of cancer-related mortality for individuals who battle cancer.
Plain and simple, eating healthy and exercising help you feel better.
When you feel better, you have the energy, the will, and the desire to live out your life’s purpose.
Which brings us to the third pillar of Maple Tree.
There is so much I could say here.
But I’m already at 627 words, and I was once told to keep blogs under 800. So I’ll just keep it simple and speak from my heart.
For me, my faith is the foundation of my life. As a Christian, I believe that God created each one of us on purpose, for a purpose.
And we can’t fulfill that purpose when we are not taking care of ourselves.
The Bible tells us that God is always with us and that He loves us more than we could ever fathom.
But when we are going through something hard, we struggle to accept this Truth.
At least I do.
When I’m walking through a trial, I feel alone. When I feel alone, I feel like nothing I do really matters in the long run. When I feel like nothing matters, I eat bad foods and forget to exercise. When I eat bad foods and forget to exercise, I lack the energy to give the rest of my life my all. When I’m not giving my all….I’m not fulfilling my purpose in life.
It is a cycle that can cause us to spiral if we aren’t careful.
Everyone goes through hard things. For most of the people reading this right now, that hard thing is cancer. For others, it could be the loss of a loved one, or financial woes, or family drama, or car trouble, or a wayward child.
Whatever it is, you still have a reason for being here! You haven’t blown it (at least not yet! 🙂 )
Don’t forget to give yourself permission to dream through this trial.
God’s purposes cannot be thwarted. He can and WILL accomplish what He intended for your life.
If you seek Him with your whole heart, you will find Him. You will find your purpose for being on this earth.
Eating healthy and exercising will help you fulfill this purpose.
Our goal – or purpose, I suppose you could say – at Maple Tree is to empower you do exactly this.