In her role as a Nutritionist at NROC, Mary B. Klem helps cancer patients and survivors to maintain healthy eating habits amid changes in treatments and lifestyle. Mary also is the proud owner of Lily, a certified therapy dog who brings smiles to the patients of NROC.
Education: Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees Foods and Nutrition – Marywood University Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition.
Inspiration to become a nutritionist? I love food! I originally wanted to be a food researcher (“taste tester”) for Sara Lee and make cheesecake. After learning about the effect nutrition could have on disease while in college I realized that working with patients was what I wanted to do.
Current responsibilities at NROC: I see patients during treatment to offer practical suggestions to maximize the quality of their diet when they may be experiencing changes in appetite or treatment-related side effects. I also see patients after treatment is completed, to discuss ways to modify their diet for cancer prevention.
Why did you choose this specialization? Shortly after spending time in a radiation oncology center, I realized I could have an impact on patient survival. I am able to give patients nutrition suggestions and then follow their progress closely. Tradition-ally, patients would need to travel to another facility to see an R.D., but fortunately at NROC, I am able to see patients when they are at the Center during their radiation treatment.
How does your program increase quality of life? When patients are able to maintain their nutritional status during treatment, they maintain their strength and energy, and have a better recovery and a better quality of life.
Most challenging aspect of your position: Dealing with the insurance companies to obtain coverage for tube feeding formulas if a patient is unable to eat regular food.
Most rewarding aspect of your job: Seeing patients after treatment is completed, and they feel well.
Misconception about healthy eating: That we need to avoid carbohydrates.
Biggest accomplishment in the field: Receiving the Keystone Award, which is awarded to a Pennsylvania dietitian who, through leadership and ability, demonstrates outstanding professional standards to advance the aims of the PA Academy of Nutrition.
Plans for future: To stay current on the ever-changing field of nutrition.
Favorite part of Northeast PA: The fall season
Family: Husband Bob and 4 dogs.
When you’re not at work: Shopping, cooking, baking and playing with our 4 dogs
People may not know: I am “Mom” to NROC’s Certified Therapy Dog, Lily. Also, I actually live in my childhood home.
Thoughts on dieting: Small, gradual diet changes work best for achieving long-term weight loss. There is no quick fix.
Healthy eating tip: Eat whole foods, increase the number of vegetables in your diet and remember that food should be enjoyed.
Favorite healthy snack: Popcorn
Favorite quote: “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.”from Michael Pollan
Coffee or Tea: I’m a lifelong tea drinker
Favorite movie or play: Jersey Boys