Researchers say obesity has now replaced tobacco as the leading, preventable cause of cancer, and Massey Cancer Center has joined forces with Tricycle Gardens, to bring that story home.
Every Thursday, there is a little farm stand in the middle of the city, Marshall and College Streets, right in front of Massey Cancer Center.
Isabel Eljaiek from Tricycle Gardens says, “A few years ago, Massey came to us and they said we have all these patients who are being told to eat fresh fruits and vegetables in support of the treatment they are getting at Massey Cancer Center and asked how we might help with that. So we created a partnership where we bring the food directly to where the patients have access to it.”
Dr. Mary Helen Hackney said, “Some of the cancers that are attributed to obesity, include endometrial cancer, colon cancer, gall bladder cancer, breast cancer, particularly in women over 50, pancreatic cancer, all have been associated with obesity. When we think about good cancer care, we want to try to prevent cancer from occur ring, we also want to try to prevent cancer from reoccurring for somebody who already has the diagnosis. We also want to promote wellness during the treatment.”
So, every Thursday during the growing season, Tricycle Gardens, a group of volunteers whose goal is to bring health food to people who normally can’t get it, sets up shop at Marshall and College Street.
“We bring all of the seasonal varieties we are able to grow and of we source some organic fruit and we sell directly to Massey cancer patients, doctors, their families, and some of the students,” said Eljaiek.
The food is wholesome, and it’s fresh.
“Right now you’re going to see lots of collard greens, radishes, turnips. We are about to start doing a lot of summer squash and cucumbers and tomatoes are really starting to hit their prime summer season,” added Eljaiek.
And, as they do in the city’s food deserts, Tricyle Gardens makes it affordable.
“That’s right. Typically we say we want to work with anybody who eats, but within that group, we recognize that some patients and families have a significant barrier in accessing fresh produce in their communities. And so here at Massey Cancer Center Farm stand we offer BOGO, buy one, get one free, on every item to patients, the caregivers of patients and everybody who is a SNAP consumer. And that essentially doubles the volume of food people are walking away with,” said Eljaiek.
“We know that many of our patients live in areas of our city that do not have access to fresh fruits and vegatables,” said Dr. Hackney.
And, with obesity now replacing tobacco as the number one preventable cause of cancer, Dr. Hackney says this project could save lives.
“Our Goal for having something like Tricycle is to look at good health before during and after cancer care.” said Dr. Hackney.