Dishing Up Healing Foods

My friend Tamara has a close friend who was recently going through chemo. Tamara had looked up some cancer fighting recipes and took these meals to her friend. After the treatments were over her friend told her that everyone's support had been appreciated but as she looked back the most significant thing she received were the homemade meals Tamara had made.

Last week I was working with a patient and her family in the hospital. The patient was diagnosed with something called Pyoderma Gangrenosum which basically means she has some wounds on her legs that are not healing well (it's a lot grosser than that but I swear do not google it unless you want to see some really stomach turning pics). In addition, her albumin was very low indicating malnourishment. After discussing various topics with them I finally turned the conversation to nutrition. What was our patient eating? Now, I'm not a nutritionist or dietitian but I do know that wounds need protein and nutrients to heal. Our patient's son lives with her and bless his heart he works and it turns out that picking up a pizza or McDonald's is what he can do. Obviously that is not going to cure anyone of anything. Our new plan was for the family to talk with the patient and make a list of things she likes to eat concentrating on fruits and vegetables. And who in this family can pitch in and cook? Well, as it turns out the patient's niece who looked to be about 15 is a great cook! She was sitting on the floor beside the patient's bed and grinned as the family doted on her abilities. Now our little cook has a mission and would be part of this patient's healing.

I have also discussed nutrition with my cancer patients. I remember recently working with two different newly diagnosed cancer patients, both of them were in their early thirties. If there is a single diagnosis that can knock the wind out of you and make you feel completely powerless, it's cancer. As we talked chemotherapy and radiation treatments eating and appetite came up. When I mentioned that there are actually cookbooks out there to help them find immune supportive recipes they were surprised. Here was something the family could actually DO. One of the books I use and have cooked many of the recipes from is One Bite at a Time by Rebecca Katz.

Many of us are touched by cancer, either our own bodies or someone we know. I encourage you to bring them a meal or two. The healing power of food and the thoughtfulness of your gift will be appreciated more than you can imagine.

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