Thursday, November 17, 2011

Approaching Someone with Cancer

My mom asked me to write this entry, because it is a recurring issue for people fighting cancer.

It is an find out someone you know has cancer, and you want to express your support and ask them how they are doing.  Undoubtedly, your intentions are kind, thoughtful, and sympathetic.  It is important to remember, however, that cancer, like any issue with one's body, is a very private matter.

There are a number of people, such as close friends or family, that you would run right up to and ask how they are doing.  Many people who have just gotten this news about their health reach out to others immediately.  They send emails.  They blog.  They tell you all their ups and downs when you run into them at the farmer's market.

Others, however, don't want to talk about it one little bit.  And that is their right, their deserved privacy.

It is a good idea to find out if you can, from someone close to the person, whether they are open about it, or private.  If they are private, you can give them an extra big hug and say, "I have been thinking about you a lot and sending you a lot of love."  Or "I heard from your son what you are going through and I just wanted you to know that I am sending you lots of get-well-quickly vibes."  In this case, statements are better than questions.  If someone asks my mom a question about her health, she says "Fine" in a way that makes you wonder if you had actually said, "I'm going to torture you here for a little while, and there's nothing you can do about it."

If you want to reach out to this person, you can offer help through a letter, or through someone close to them.  You can arrange meals through this confidante, as well.  It will still be incredibly meaningful to the person dealing with the disease, but they will feel like their boundaries were kept intact.

For someone more open about their cancer, you can approach them with equal openness: "I have heard what you are going through and I would love to be helpful.  What can I do?  I hope you have felt alright through your treatments."  If they want to elaborate about their health, you have given them an opening.  If they don't, you haven't asked a question that puts them on the spot.  They may add you to their email list.  They may need an ear.  Chances are they will let you know how you can help.

I like the following recipe for this blog, because it is both bold and snuggled-in at the same time.  It is also delicious.  A perfect, tiny, nutrition-filled meal for someone with a tiny appetite, or a great appetizer for someone throwing a party.

Veggie Mushroom Cozy

24 white mushroom caps, with stems cut-out
1 celery stalk
1 carrot
1 fresh roma tomatoes
1/4 fennel bulb
1/2 cup white beans
olive oil for roasting


In a small jar place:
1 part balsamic vinegar
a squeeze of yellow mustard
a big squeeze of honey
a pinch of sea salt
1 clove or garlic, minced
-Put the lid on and SHAKE until combined.
-Then add:
2 parts good olive oil
-SHAKE again until well combined

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
2. Drizzle & rub olive oil over the mushroom caps (with stems cut out), sprinkle with salt, and roast them, open side up, in the oven for 12 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, very finely dice the celery, carrot, tomatoes, and fennel.
4. Mix in a large bowl with the white beans and vinaigrette.  Stir well.
5. Once the mushrooms are golden and cooked, stuff each one with the mixture and serve!

If you have leftover veggie mixture, either have it tomorrow for a salad at lunch, or make additional mushrooms!

***Did you know that mushrooms are one of the top-six cancer-fighting foods?  There is a great acronym in nutrition that refers to the best cancer-fighting diet: GOMBBS (Greens, Onions, Mushrooms,  Berries, Beans, and Seeds.)

Mushrooms are an important part of the human immune system.  They stop cancer from metastasizing.  If you ate mushrooms every day you would reduce your risk of breast cancer by 64%.  And that's any type of mushroom: button, oyster, shiitake, although a mix is best.  All mushrooms contain poly-saccharide and beta-glucan components which are anti-cancer properties.  They are also an excellent source of phytochemicals, B-vitamins, zinc, and many needed-minerals.

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