Monday, December 10, 2012

Being a Cancer Companion from Afar

Recently a good friend came to me with news that her friend who lives across the country was battling cancer.  What could she do from afar to help?  This situation plagues many of us at periods in our lives.  We want to be there by our loved-one's side to help, but we can't always be.

There is, however, a lot we can do from afar.  Here would be my recommendations:

1. Buy your friend, or their cancer companion one of Rebecca Katz's books.  My favorite is One Bite at a Time.  Also wonderful is The Cancer Fighting Kitchen.  Both have healthy, exciting recipes, and both will also teach you so much about nutrition and cancer.  They are must-haves.

2. Find a local restaurant near them that is healthy and delivers.  Maybe it is a vegan place, or a vegetarian joint, or perhaps they even make green juice.  Get them a gift certificate there since you can't bring them dinner.  This will encourage them to eat healthily, while also getting a break from cooking, which can be both exhausting and nauseating if you are getting cancer treatments.

3. Send them a healthy care package. You could pick a theme--say: soup.  Find a great recipe, copy it for them, and then include what ingredients you can.  For a black bean soup you could include the dried black beans, the spices, and even an onion.  If you'd rather do a snacking care package, you could include raw almonds, cans or jars of olives, raw and sprouted sunflower seeds.  Or you could do a tea care package and include green, ginger, stomach soothing, and red teas, all which would be high in antioxidants and could help fight cancer, plus having very soothing effects! You could also include a tea strainer and a pretty mug or teapot in the care package.

4. Do they need help setting up dinners and help? Meal train is great and can be set up from afar.   So is  Sign Up Genius.

5. Tell them about inspiring videos and books that can fill those lull periods for them with great information.  Crazy, Sexy Cancer by Kris Carr is a great one to help boost the attitude of someone going through cancer.  Her cookbooks (Crazy Sexy Diet, etc.) are also fun and uplifting. Another very informative volume is by cancer expert Neal Barnard, who founded The Cancer Project and runs the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).  He is one of the greatest experts in the field and wrote The Cancer Survivor's Guide, complete with recipes and lots of knowledge.

6. Nobody can get too many love notes or upbeat stories & letters.  Keep the mail and the love flowing.

This recipe comes from The Cancer Survivor's Guide.  I chose it because many of the ingredients you could pack in a care package.  It's easy to make and delicious!

Lentil and Brown Rice Soup

12 cups water or vegetable broth (could pack Rapunzel bouillon cubes in care package)
1 cup dried brown or green lentils (care package)
1 cup short-grain brown rice (care package)
1 cup diced onion (care package)
1 cup minced fresh parsley
6 garlic cloves, minced (care package)
1 tsp. dried oregano (care package)
1 tsp. dried thyme (care package)
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. whole celery seeds (care package)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (care package)
1/4 tsp. salt

  • Bring the water to a boil in a large soup pot. (Add and stir in bouillon cubes, if using.) Add the lentils, rice, onion, parsley, garlic, oregano, thyme, pepper, celery seeds, and cinnamon.  Lower the heat, cover loosely, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils and rice are tender.
  • Season with salt to taste.
  • Store in a covered container in the refrigerator, leftover soup will keep for up to 3 days.

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