Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Healthy Foods Helped Fight Cancer

After reading about Michael, a 30-year cancer survivor who had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as a child, and Eva, the Girl of the Year, at seven years old is now a three-year leukemia survivor, I was inspired by their courage and intrigued about their diets before, during and after treatment. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) encourages people to create fundraisers to raise money in support for LLS programs. I couldn’t turn away, so on Sunday afternoon I “Spaaad for a cure” and was able to talk to a few survivors among the donors enjoying the day and I was lucky enough to visit with a couple of them.

The first one was Michael. Michael, a humble and healthy man, was diagnosed at a very young age with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with less than a 5 percent chance of survival and, at that time, all medications and treatments were experimental. Michael was very fortunate because he had a mother who was taught about the importance of health and nutrition. Because all treatments were experimental, she found that keeping Michael at his best was extremely important. She made every meal count because that’s what she could control. He ate a healthy and varied diet of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Determined to persevere Michael as he underwent treatment.

A 30 year cancer survivor, Michael cherishes those early years of heightened awareness and encourages families to teach their children early about the importance of eating a well-balanced diet of whole foods that are grown from the ground whether you’re sick or not. He believes that eating healthy during childhood gave him a good foundation that helped him to overcome cancer.

Next, I met Eva. Healthy and vibrant, like any normal seven year old, but she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphblastic Leukemia at age four. Eva, beginning from infancy, was given an outstanding diet of homemade baby foods – vegetables like carrots, broccoli and peas. The baby food she made was from whole foods with no additives and steamed to a consistency that would puree easily. Eva's mother, Katie, took the time to plan and prepare her daughters meals on a regular basis so she wouldn’t be eating unnecessary sugars found in most baby foods today. She loaded Eva’s diet not only with vegetables but also fruits and good proteins.

After Eva was diagnosed, her mother turned to the doctor’s for help and treatment. During chemotherapy, she continued with her healthy diet but also included many comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, bacon and even clams.

“Busy families should plan ahead,” said Katie. “It’s the best way to go when it comes to feeding your kids what you hope they will eat. I do the worst job when I’m chasing the day. I stock the house with the things that are better for our family to be eating. If it isn’t available, then we tend to grab and go with whatever else is available.”

Now, Eva is in recovery and Michael is considered cured, they’re both very aware of their bodies. They know what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly they both love good foods that keep them strong. Katie insists that her daughter is willing to eat anything, where as other children her age are afraid of foods they are unfamiliar with. Michael continues eating all of the same things he was raised on. Healthy foods at an early age are not a cure for cancer but they definitely helped these two get through treatment and move on with their lives.

Though I never wish to face lymphoma or leukemia after meeting Eva and Michael, I now know it’s a beatable disease. They both had a strong foundation of healthy fruits, vegetables and lean proteins early on in their lives and it helped to create a balanced diet, which helped them fight their disease.

Eating and Treatment-

Many who undergo chemotherapy and radiation suffer from loss of appetite, nausea, changes in sense of taste or smell, lactose intolerance and several other eating problems. These issues can seem troublesome and frustrating but they eventually go away after treatment.

During Treatment-

  1. Try to smell the foods before you buy them. If they won’t work in your system they will probably smell bad.
  2. Wash all of your foods very carefully, including proteins. They can come with bacteria in the liquids found in the packaging.
  3. Proteins are key to staying healthy.
  4. When you find something you like, try adding different ingredients to give you new vitamins and minerals in your diet.
  5. Salty foods, like bacon, can be delicious when you can’t taste anything else.

Foods Michael and Eva liked during treatment-

  1. Bananas
  2. Apples
  3. Bacon
  4. Eggs
  5. Pancakes
  6. Green onions
  7. Mushrooms
  8. All Soups (Ramen noodles)
  9. Asparagus
  10. Green beans
  11. Ramen noodles
  12. Tofu
  13. Chicken

Foods Michael and Eva didn’t like during treatment-

  1. Tomato sauce
  2. Broccoli
  3. Chocolate

Michael’s Super foods-

  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Grape juice
  4. Salmon, fresh
  5. Broccoli
  6. Asparagus
  7. Squash

Please support Michael at

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