Guest Post: The Importance of Healthy Eating for Cancer Patients


I am pleased to introduce FFFE’s first guest blogger, Jillian McKee. Her fabulous post reminds us how important it is to hold onto (or start building!) healthy eating habits when cancer rears its ugly head.

Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

As an addition to the great information below, social support can also be crucial for cancer survival. In a study of women diagnosed with breast cancer, those with higher social support ratings were significantly more likely to recover and less likely to have a recurrence of the disease. One more great reason to find and keep some Forever Friends

Here’s Jillian!:

When you are diagnosed with cancer, it can be a life-changing experience that affects many different aspects of your routine. During cancer treatment, there are a number of things that you can do to improve your chances of beating the disease and living a healthy life. Eating healthy is one of the most important things that you can do in this situation. Why exactly is eating healthy important when you are diagnosed with cancer?

Healthy Food photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.netImprove Quality of Life

Eating healthy will not necessarily cure your cancer, but it will improve your quality of life. Many people who are going through cancer treatment lose weight, and feel very weak throughout the process. This often leads to discouragement and a negative attitude for the patient. If you take the time to eat a diet full of healthy foods, you will generally feel better. Going to your treatment may not seem so bad when you have a good attitude. Eating the right foods can make you feel better and keep your treatment up.

Boost Your Energy

One of the problems that many cancer patients have to deal with is a lack of energy. They don’t feel up to doing a whole lot of anything. If you make a conscious effort to eat healthy, you’ll be able to improve your energy levels and do more with your time. People who eat right are able to enjoy lifestyles that aren’t that much different than they were before. When you have more going on in your life, you have more to live for, and you can fight the cancer harder.

Avoid Malnutrition

Most cancer treatments can be very hard on your body. If you don’t eat the right types of foods, you may eventually suffer from malnutrition. When you suffer from malnutrition, your cancer treatment may lead to a number of problems. Many who are going through cancer treatment have weakened immune systems. If you have a weakened immune system and you are suffering from malnutrition, it will be very easy for you to get sick. By eating healthy foods, you may be able to avoid sickness and improve your chances of survival. For example, the mesothelioma survival rate is much higher with people who eat right because it reduces the risk of other complications.

Overall, there are a number of benefits that come with eating a healthy diet when you are a cancer patient.  Eating right could be the difference between losing the fight and ultimately beating the disease.

Having Friends Benefits Your Kids, Too


Friendship isn’t just fun and convenient.  It is perhaps one of the most enjoyable ways to stay healthy, sane, and safe.

What’s more, research shows that not having friends during times of acute stress in your life may not only impact your own health, but also that of your children.  According to a 2008 study by Mickelson and Demmings, women who need social support the most are least likely to have it, and their kids may be paying a high price for it.

Low-income women are more likely to face stressful life events and to have inadequate social support.  Because they do not have as many traditional friends or family members as support to rely on during stressful times, they are more likely to lean on their young children for emotional support.  According to the study, when kids are expected to fill the role of more mature emotional supporters, it can have a negative effect on their wellbeing.

Mother Hugging Son, By David Castillo Dominici

Substituting a child for the role of a traditional supporter is not only less effective at improving the mom’s coping ability, but also contributes to a decrease in health status for her and her child, making both worse off.  In short, the situation becomes a perfect storm, wherein those most likely to experience stressful events are least able to lean on an appropriate support network.  Those who have the least social support then lean on their children, negatively impacting the health of themselves and their kids.

Studies also show that having a variety of social relationships is also important. Be active in volunteer activities, go to a happy hour event after work, chat with your neighbors, socialize after church, join an activity group, whatever. Just do it!

If the information above doesn’t make a tragic case for making friends and improving your social support network, then I don’t know what will.  If you have the means and opportunity to make friends or be social, then do it.

Your health – and that of your children – may depend on it.

Women of a Certain Age…


OK, so I’m not quite a “woman of a certain age” in the traditional sense of the phrase. Although I suspect that the women the term refers to are getting older and older as those who used to throw around that phrase age themselves, the new “Men of a Certain Age” TV show brought the idea to my attention.

I would argue, however, that the “certain age” can be pretty young! When you aren’t using the term to refer to declining physical or mental abilities, maybe it could be interpreted as something else…

Closing Social Circles for Women

 

 

 

Something like that certain age when:

1. Getting trashed every night isn’t your idea of a good time

2. All of your friends are either working, married, or living out-of-town

3. Your social circle is smaller than you’d like, be it a hectic lifestyle or a changing personality to blame

4. Priorities change from doing homework to paying bills, from hanging with roommates to earning a promotion

Adults everywhere have fewer friends nowadays than they did even just a couple of decades ago. Our options for discussions, confiding, stress relief and relaxation, and enjoyment are more limited, and our time with friends is infrequent.

This phenomenon may only accelerate with future generations, who get much of their social interaction online. Although chatting with friends on Facebook can have its rewards, studies show face-time is more beneficial for us, and personally, I agree. Although it may be easier to write on someone’s “wall” I would much prefer to go shopping or chat on the phone (even for just a few minutes!).

So in closing, instead of women of a certain age getting older and older, I’m afraid that they might be getting younger and younger! I feel like closing social networks and isolation may render us old before our time. That social disconnect is increasingly becoming a problem of young people as much as it can be for those further along in years.

And I know I want to make sure that I delay truly becoming a “woman of a certain age” as long as possible, particularly if it means I have fewer friends and less social time! I’m sure potential Forever Friends everywhere would say “ditto!”

Coffee is Good for You


And your friends! And you when you’re with friends!

I am happy to report that I have gone out for coffee with two awesome ladies recently. I knew one from college and the other from high school, and we are all in the same city now, so I figured it was time to reconnect!

Not only did we have a great time catching up, but I am happy to report that in addition to social time being good for women, so is coffee.

Coffee has health benefits

Not only do the antioxidants, natural chemicals, and caffeine provide certain heart-healthy benefits, but there are studies that also indicate that moderate coffee drinkers also have lower rates of depression and even diabetes. Women may also be able to reduce their risk of heart disease by sipping up to four cups per day, and some research demonstrates a small decrease in the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer in regular coffee drinkers.

For those of you who are nervous about the caffeine, decaf and other caffeinated drinks will confer the desired health benefits for certain conditions, but not for all. To minimize the negative effects of caffeine, try drinking most of your coffee by early afternoon to give your body plenty of time to process it before you go to sleep.

For the rest of us, this is good news to drink up, and an excellent excuse to grab a coffee with the girls.

In terms of progress on the Friendship Meter, things are going well – two invites and two events down. I’m getting over some of the awkward things by just sucking it up and talking or inviting anyway. It’s working! I’m happy to report my confidence is building and I am enjoying myself A TON in the process. Hooray!

The Friendship of Women


I saw a post on the book the Friendship of Womenand thought it looked like an inspiring and fitting piece of literature.  Gonna check it out!

The Friendship of Women

Check out the book!

The science behind friendships and why they matter


As promised, I did some research into the evidence supporting the importance of friendship, and there was no shortage.  Studies have been done showing how vital strong friendships are to things like mental health, maintaining a healthy weight, staying happy, keeping an aging brain sharp, and much more.

Of course, we didn’t need research to tell us how valuable friends are.  What was interesting to read was that despite how big some people’s online social networks are, they don’t necessarily have any more close friends than others with smaller networks.

Studies show Americans have fewer close friends today – in the age of Facebook, Twitter, email, and smart phones! – than a decade or two ago.  They socialize less, discuss important life events less, engage in their community less.  Sites exist to help find old friends, make new ones, chat with random people, etc, and yet, it doesn’t seem to be working!

Research tells us that people with close friends live longer, happier lives than their lonely counterparts, but it ain’t easy to make and keep close friends.

Especially for adults, making new friends and maintaining or developing older friendships takes work (and time!).  It takes effort, putting ourselves out there, taking a personal emotional risk with the hopes of achieving a happiness and fulfillment we couldn’t have without friends.

Despite the work this is going to take, I think it’s worth it.  And I’m going to make a plan to get my own Forever Friends.

I hope you’ll join me!

I’m not the only one worried about making friends!


How many friends does it take…?.  Meet my attempt at linking to a site that is also concerned about making friends, keeping them, and reaching a level of friendly intimacy with them.  I will also add this to the blogroll.

 

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