Why It Is Important To Give Healthy Foods To A Cancer Patient?

The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. ~Ann Wigmore

Things we ought to know why appropriate diet is very important to anyone who has cancer before and after treatment. This is not only true because Google says so, it is true to give any cancer patient a right diet because I also went through the same process during my treatment.

I write this blog out from my observations as I visited one of the cancer hospitals in Saigon, Vietnam. And even during my surgical removal last February 2016, I noticed that there is no dietary department in the hospital where I was admitted. Two years after my treatment was done, I was able to get a chance to be connected with the children who have cancer, months later after I started my blog.

It is vital to know and learn especially to the family who is taking care a loved one who is battling cancer the right nutrition in cancer care*. They must know these following details:

  • Good nutrition is important for cancer patients. We are all aware that good nutrition is important for good health. Sometimes, we are too careless and too bragging while we still have good health until we acquire one serious illness that will make us consider to change our diet. How much more in people who have cancer?
    Consuming a proper diet before, during and after cancer can help them feel better and stay stronger. For instance, SUGAR; for an average person, too much consumption of sugar will actually make you tired. We all thought that if we give our body as much sugar as we need, it will give us enough strength throughout the day. Yes, this is very helpful to many athletes if they are into competitions, but, what I am talking is, excessive sugar consumption that is already part of the daily eating habit is likely to affect to our health badly. A proverb that remained the same until now, “too much of anything is bad”, and for those who take care a loved one or friend that has cancer, we just need them to feel better and remain strong as they keep winning this battle against cancer.
    Maybe, the next time we will give food to someone who has cancer, we can consider which food we are supposed to give. We can also ask professional practitioners who are expert in dietary field or even a smart research on Google might give us ideas on which kind of healthy foods to give next time.
  • Healthy eating habits are important during and after cancer treatment. It’s never too late to change a habit. Much more to shape a habit of children especially in eating habit. For most cancer patients, it must be always remembered that they need to keep a healthy body weight, maintain their strength, keep their body tissue healthy, and decrease side effects both during and after treatment.
    My weight dropped drastically right after my radiation therapy treatment was completed. Before and after my surgical removal, I had started to follow some specific diet to help me feel better. I continue doing this until I was waiting for my treatment, but the effect of radiation therapy had resulted into a malnourished body which literally I lost much more weight than my normal body mass. But then, I completed my diet for 5 months after the radiation therapy treatment, until I regained my strength and was able to get back my normal body mass.
  • A registered dietitian is an important part of the healthcare team. As what I had mentioned above, it is not the first time I visited hospitals even before meeting children with cancer. Except for my admission for my tumor removal, every time I visited a friend in the hospital, my mind was always wondering if there a dietary department is existing around.
    I may have been mistaken with regards to this matter, missed this part or even mislook/misunderstood because of the language barrier, my point is, a role of a professional dietitian works with the patient, families, and even the rest of medical team to manage the patient’s diet during and after cancer treatment.
  • Cancer and cancer treatments may cause side effects that affect nutrition. Also mentioned earlier, how my weight drastically decreased right after my radiation therapy treatment. The effects of cancer and cancer treatments make it hard to a patient to eat well and hard to take in enough nutrients to stay healthy.
  • Cancer and cancer nutrition may cause malnutrition. Some cancer patients experience loss of taste, smell, appetite, and even the ability to eat enough food or absorb the nutrients from food because of cancer and its treatments. And this can cause malnutrition where the key nutrients are not enough for the body. When a patient is malnourished, it will easily get weak, tired, and unable to fight infection or finish cancer treatment. And the worst thing is, malnutrition may be made worse if cancer grows or spreads.

It is possible to return eating certain foods again that is used to be avoided if the body is readily consuming them. Better yet, it’s more advisable to talk to a doctor or another professional practitioner about how long a cancer patient should take food precautions.

**This blog is not intended to give a professional medical advice nor giving a list of food that prevents cancer. It is best to always seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner whatever medical condition you may or your loved ones have at the moment. And this is just an insight what nutrition cancer patients must receive during their treatment.

Photo courtesy of JuiceRecipes.

*Source: National Cancer Institute

5 Things You Need To Know Before Visiting Children With Cancer

It’s hard to know what to say or do for someone who has cancer and most especially to a child diagnosed with cancer. You want to say or do the right thing, but sometimes it comes out wrong at the end. You wish to help someone who has cancer, be with them or volunteer in an organization which aids patients with cancer, but how?

Everyone’s experience with cancer is unique, so as with the children who face this kind of battle at the early age. So here are the 5 things you need to know before you visit children with this deadly disease.

  1. Do something. Don’t just ask, “Is there anything I can do?” If you decided to volunteer to any NGOs or private charity project, simply offer to do something. Think about first what is it that you are capable of helping one of these children who has cancer. Maybe you can feed the child, sing a song, play with them or just simply touch the child on the arm, hand, shoulder or back as little as 60 seconds just to create a human bond.
  2. Offer practical and appropriate gifts. If you want to give your own personalized gift, grab your shoe box, fill it with some healthy snacks, toiletries, coloring book with non-toxic crayons, books, and a card. It’s a thought that counts, no matter how big or small you can offer too few or many, it meant a lot to the child and to its family. Yes, it’s so cute to bring balloons or so sweet to bring flowers for them but we don’t know if these children are allergic or sensitive with some latex content materials or pollen from the flowers. We don’t compromise the patient’s immune system so we better be attentive first before buying what gifts to buy for them.
  3. If the patient cries or shouts, it’s not about you. In my experience, no matter how I give comfort to a child who is crying or shouting, it won’t stop until it will be able to get asleep. The only time that they can’t feel the pain is when they’re sleeping. The mother could not even stop the child who suffers brain cancer from crying or shouting. So, whenever you visit a child with cancer in a hospital and you see them look terrible, you don’t need to come near and give comfort. If you also feel the need to cry, don’t hold your tears, just simply step out of the room. These cancer patients and their family don’t need crying and tissues in their room because they also try to be optimistic and looking forward that they will get out from the room they have been staying for months. I don’t say it’s not okay to cry but letting the children see you cry while they are lying on their bed is not really helping at all.
  4. Never make unkind comments. In my previous blog, I had written on how we choose the words we could give to cancer patients or even survivors. Usually, most people make comments that they never realize could hurt someone who suffers a deadly and terminal disease. In good faith, you may say a comment that you thought it’s positive, but it’s not actually comforting to those who are already hurt physically and mentally. So, it’s a good reminder to be careful about whatever we have to say not to hurt them more especially on the emotional aspect or rather say nothing at all. It’s perfectly fine to hold yourself from speaking, there’s no need to rush. Sometimes, just being with them and offering a touch can help more than words.
  5. Never whine about your life’s burdens. The last but not the least, a helpful reminder that each cancer patient or a survivor like me can share with you is to never complain about life. There’s nothing to complain about. Always realize that life has been good for you and you must enjoy that. We, the cancer survivors, have been trying to show you that you must enjoy life while you have it. And remember, somebody’s worst days could be much worse for others. Everything is relative. You make your own choice on how your life would be. Would you allow your entire day to be ruined with just a small mistake happened in the morning? Your reaction matters in every situation you are facing with. It could be a positive or negative circumstance, you have the option to look at your life on the way how you view it. One way or the other, the contrast of life is, as long as we are alive, we all have ups and downs and your approach is how you handle that roller coaster called LIFE.

So, if you have a chance to visit the children with cancer, you are just completing the circle. By any means of helping others, it’s the same way of treating and helping yourself. In return, meeting these children with cancer is another way to learn from their stories. And their stories might heal you, by seeing the pain from them, in order to recognize your own pain you’ve been keeping for a long time.

Do it now, tomorrow is not guaranteed that you can help and there are no second chances. Make memories while you can with these children and don’t put anything off to do later. Who knows, your life could change in a moment you are with them.

**This blog is not intended to give a professional medical advice. It is best to always seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner whatever medical condition you may or your loved ones have at the moment.

Photo courtesy of MyHDiet.