Author, health consultant to talk about infectious disease in past and today

0819_HeritageLectHuman bones are made of the same elements as the earth, Terry Foody said, and “we can’t deny the fact that they are part of our environment.”

Foody, who graduated from Niagara University, is a registered nurse, clinical researcher and a consultant on healthy living. Healthy living is good, she said, but health is not always an inviting subject, especially as health entails illness.

At 3:30 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ, Foody will talk about “Infectious Disaster: The 1833 Cholera Epidemic with Implications for Our Global Health Today.” This lecture is part of the Oliver Archives Center Heritage Lecture Series.

“With all our technology, we can’t deny the fact that we are part of our environment,” Foody said. “We are made up of the same material as the earth. We are part of this. We have to take in water. We have to get rid of our waste. “

The 1830s cholera epidemic in Lexington, Kentucky, was devastating.

“The streets were silent and deserted by everything but horses and dead-carts, and to complete the desperate condition of things three physicians died, three more were absent and, of the rest, scarcely one escaped an attack of the disease,” reads a report on rootsweb.ancestry.com. “The clergy, active as they were, could not meet one-third of the demands made upon them.”

In 1833, Foody said, “they just didn’t know what was going on.”

“The Transylvania University had a medical school. Three doctors died right away. They drank the water,” she said. “They did everything they could, but lack of knowledge and not having regulated research, they were hamstrung.”

Although nearly two centuries removed from that time, the conditions then might not be so far from conditions today — even in Chautauqua County, she said.

“We want to build, want development, build around the lake and all, but people don’t want to spend money on things you can’t see,” Foody said. “We want to fix up something you see.”

Consequently, the condition of the water supply can suffer.

Foody said that if people are taking water out of the lake and putting sewage back in, “we have to take care of it.”

Everybody likes a pretty lawn to display, but they have to remember there are invisible forces at play that will have not-so-becoming consequences, she said.

Having grown up in New York state, Foody knows how precious the summer months can be. “This is August, about only time the beaches can be open,” where the water is warm enough to swim in and enjoy, she said.

“The closed beaches are unacceptable. How can we tolerate it?” she said.

Foody is the author of a book, The Pie Seller, The Drunk and The Lady. The book contains stories of three ordinary people who became heroes in the Lexington cholera disaster.

“The pie seller was a free black woman. She sold pies downtown Lexington,” Foody said. “She knew the drunk, and helped take care of him, a homeless man who stayed to bury the dead.”

The lady took in young children who had been orphaned in the epidemic.

“Her own mother died in her home of cholera,” Foody said. “She organized women from different churches, raised money and started an orphanage. She formed a society that is still in existence today.”

Foody said it is important to remember that the common person can make a difference.

Foody has worked in community health in New York state and Kentucky, taught nursing at Kentucky State University and coordinated research projects on new medicines for high blood pressure, cholesterol, osteoporosis, organ transplant and lung cancer at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. She currently has her own speaking/consulting business, incorporating information with inspiration for healthy living.

Her book will be available at Chautauqua Bookstore and at the lecture, and Foody will be available before and after the lecture to sign copies.