Patient Advocate: Gaston Remmers
In 2012, I was diagnosed with tongue cancer. Together with the confusion, fear and pain, a broader consciousness opened for me, and the whole process gave me a tremendous boost to my personal development. I realize now how much power and insights patients acquire, not only to improve the health system, but also adjacent sectors of society. As a Patient Advocate, I am member of the group ‘Reducing Incidence’, with a special focus on food. My mission: making ‘food’ an acknowledged and fully equipped intervention and prevention strategy for health, in the near future.
In the realm of reducing incidence and food I can make a difference by combining with my professional activities in the field of agriculture, food and sustainable habitat development in urbanized areas. As a process architect, I have 25+ years of experience in designing new development routes in that field, especially in situations where the stakes are at odds. I am at my best combining innovative conceptual perspectives with a hands-on approach – and to connect felt urgencies at different levels and domains into something valuable that did not exist previously.
Currently, I am employing my double role as Patient Advocate and professional to lead a number of projects around ‘Personalised Food’: food that makes the best match between an individual (patient and healthy citizen) and food. I believe that Personalised Food has the potential to enhance fundamental changes in both the health and the agrofood system – for the better. Patients who explicitly demand good food for good health are crucial in this process.
Born in 1965, I live in the northern part of Amsterdam, with my wife and two children aged 8 and 11. I blog on my cancer process at www.gastonremmers.wordpress.com (in Dutch). I am the director of HABITUS, a consultancy dedicated to enabling the development of healthy living environments. (www.habitus.nu), and former Chair of Eco-Effective Entrepreneurship in Urban Environments at CAH Vilentum University of Applied Science in Almere. I am co-founder of the Dutch Platform Patient and Food, bringing together the voice of patients of all sorts (www.patientenvoeding.nl).
In 1990, I graduated in forestry and agro-ecology at Wageningen University, and did my PhD in 1998 in rural sociology, based on work in Spain. My education will continue. Cancer keeps me teaching lessons and I hope it will never stop doing so.