|Nutrition, bone marrow registry are local woman’s passion|
|Written by Deborah Stone|
Ashley Besecker’s fascination with nutrition was sparked during her first sports nutrition class in college.
Initially, the 2002 WHS grad planned to be a sports team doctor, but after she was introduced to the world of nutrition, she altered her course.
“I was hooked,” says Besecker. “I realized that food is involved in everything, and it’s at the core of health and wellness. I decided I wanted to be involved in the field so that I could help people achieve their wellness goals.”
Upon graduating from Pepperdine University, the young woman headed to Vanderbilt University for graduate studies and to complete the necessary residency requirement for certification as a registered dietician. She went on to work at The Center, a private clinic in Edmonds that focuses on the treatment of eating disorders, as well as completed a short stint with Microsoft’s wellness program before opening her own practice, Crave Health, in Kirkland.
“I always wanted to have my own practice,” explains Besecker, “because I wanted the freedom to see all types of clients and create special individualized programs to meet their needs. I wanted to be able to go outside the box.”
Many of Besecker’s clients need help in the area of preventative wellness with issues such as weight control, high cholesterol and hypertension. She also sees a number of children and adolescents, as one of her specialties is pediatric nutrition.
This past winter, Besecker began offering monthly nutrition clinics for the public on a variety of different topics such as organics, weight loss and reproductive and fertility nutrition.
Up next is a session devoted to nutrition and cancer. “I’m going to be speaking on prevention and risk reduction, discuss updated research and present a new theory I am working on regarding the diets in different countries and the correlation to number of deaths from cancer,” explains Besecker.
“For example, there is a high number of deaths from cancer in the U.S., Canada, Australia and many parts of Europe. But, in India and some of the African countries, this number is much lower. I believe the common denominator is diet.”
Joining Besecker at the upcoming clinic is guest speaker Kenechi Udeze of the Seattle Seahawks, who is also a leukemia survivor, thanks to a bone marrow transplant.
Prior to the event, representatives from Puget Sound Blood Center will be on hand to register individuals interested in becoming bone marrow donors.
“I am very excited to partner with the center,” comments Besecker, “because their work is near and dear to my heart.” She adds, “During my graduate work at Vanderbilt Medical Center, I donated blood and at that time, I was asked if I would also do a quick cheek swab to be put on the bone marrow registry. A year later, I was called and told I was a match to an unknown person with terminal ALL or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I chose to donate my marrow and one year after that, I found out that my recipient was a 32-year-old mother of two from Utah and she had survived.”
Besecker continues to explain that later she got an email from the woman expressing her gratitude for Besecker’s selfless act.
The two gradually developed a relationship in the ensuing years and though the women have talked on the phone numerous times, they have yet to meet face-to-face. That will soon change.
“She’s coming for a visit in August,” says Besecker. “I can’t wait to meet her!” In having representatives from the blood center at her clinic, Besecker hopes to draw attention to the need for more registered donors. She notes there are a high number of patients, primarily with blood cancers, who are in need of a bone marrow transplant and who are unable to find a match within their family.
The need is especially great for bone marrow from minorities, such as Hispanic, African, Native Hawaiian and other populations.
“There is a severe shortage of donors,” says Besecker, “and approximately 3,000 children and adults die each year without a match.”
It used to be that there was a “scary stigma” surrounding being a bone marrow donor, as the procedure involved surgery and was viewed with much fear and caution.
Thanks to modern medicine’s advances, the process is now as easy as giving blood. And to register is even easier.
All it takes is a simple cheek swab with a Q-tip. Normally, it costs $50 to register, but according to Besecker, the fee will be waived at the upcoming clinic. She says, “The goal is to get as many people as we can to get on the registry. It’s about saving lives.”
Crave Health’s clinic on Nutrition & Cancer will be held Monday, May 21st from
6-7 p.m. at the Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland. Cost is $20 per person and registration is required. The bone marrow drive will take place from 5-7 p.m.
For more information, visit: www.crave-health.com or contact Ashley Besecker at: (425) 828-0100