Thursday, April 12, 2012

Foods to Fight Cancer


A dear family member, my Aunt Deb, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer.

I’m asking for your help. A search on what she should eat while undergoing chemotherapy reveals so much information it makes my head spin. With my aunt’s permission, I’m turning to you, my foodie community, to see if you have first hand experience with this diagnosis.

Nausea is a factor. She has been battling it with simple foods like yogurt, crackers and juice. We know eating whole foods, nothing processed, is important.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions. My aunt will be reading this post so feel free to leave some positive thoughts as well.

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36 Responses to “Foods to Fight Cancer”

  1. 1

    Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon — April 12, 2012 @ 12:10 PM

    Wendy and Deb, I wish I had an easy answer to this question for you. During my dad’s battle with Stage 4 lung cancer, I catered to what he liked and what he could tolerate. There were soups, stews, braises, shrimp salad, pudding, cupcakes, and quick breads during his treatments. When I wasn’t there cooking, I would overnight ship frozen foods that my parents could keep in the freezer. That way my dad and his wife would have something on hand that could quickly get a meal on the table.

    I am sending positive thoughts and hugs your way.

    • Wendy replied: — April 12th, 2012 @ 12:24 PM

      Many thanks for your feedback and for the positive thoughts and hugs. We can never have too many!

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    Natalie — April 12, 2012 @ 12:57 PM

    I know the feeling about there being so much contradicting info out there your head hurts! I was diagnosed with an agressive form of breast cancer aged 36 just over two years ago. I have been through all the treatment and owe my swift recovery & tumour shrinkage to a combination of traditional & alternative medicine. I think diet is THE most important factor. I gave up all animal products (I was vegetarian anyway) especially cow’s milk products, sugar (including all fruits) and processed food altogether. I know this sounds extreme but I really believe it worked. If you would like some reading material The China Study by T. Colin Campbell is an excellent place to start. Positive thinking is also key. I read everything by Donna Hay. You Can Heal Yourself is brilliant, it changed my life, seriously. eating through the chemo is difficult but I hate it when people (and doctors) say to eat what you feel like, Which is usually sugary rubbish

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    Natalie — April 12, 2012 @ 12:59 PM

    I just got cut off probably for waffling on too much, sorry! But it is something I feel really strongly about. You can contact me directly if you like via email or my blog. Keep positive xx

  4. 4

    Natalie — April 12, 2012 @ 1:00 PM

    It is Louise Hay, not Donna, she is an Australian cook! Food on the brain, as usual!!

    • Wendy replied: — April 12th, 2012 @ 1:26 PM

      Natalie thank you so much for sharing your personal experience. I do believe food can be healing even if it can’t necessarily treat the issue. I also truly believe in positive thoughts and positive energy. I’ll check out the reading material you suggested. Thanks again!

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    Liz — April 12, 2012 @ 1:08 PM

    I haven’t worked in oncology in decades, but Wendi’s response was perfect. She needs good calories to fight the fight…feed her what sounds good to her. Ginger helps with nausea, non cream soups might be better tolerated…but go for a milkshake with added protein powder if she’s up for it. Many small meals might work best. I wish her good luck with the battle…and hugs for you!

    • Wendy replied: — April 12th, 2012 @ 1:28 PM

      Thanks Liz! I think she’s been making fruit smoothies to get her daily dose of fruit. I’ll suggest the milkshake with protein. Thank you for best wishes!

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    Meg — April 12, 2012 @ 1:11 PM

    I am so, so, so sorry to hear that cancer has entered your personal vocabulary. Chemo is a lot like the first trimester of pregnancy, eat what can be tolerated. Drinking small amounts of water and eating small meals will help immensely. Make sure your aunt eats light, easily digested foods and takes the anti-naseau and anti-emetic meds on schedule. Broths, toast, simple foods that aren’t greasy or fatty are all good options. Make sure everything is pasteurized, and avoid anything undercooked because of possible bacteria. Also, acidic foods are generally off the menu because they can increase heartburn. It is really going to depend on what your aunt feels like eating. What appeals to her today, may turn her stomach tomorrow. Love and good thoughts to you all.

    • Wendy replied: — April 12th, 2012 @ 1:29 PM

      Thanks Meg. Sounds like great advice. Much appreciated!

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    Beeb Ashcroft — April 12, 2012 @ 1:29 PM

    Huge hugs to the both of you! I was going to suggest ginger for the nausea also, it’s worth a try to see if it helps any. You could try candied ginger, cook it into another dish, or if you don’t feel like eating it, a ginger tea. Non food related, but I have also heard of wristbands that are designed with the aim of relieving some nausea via acupressure. There have been multiple studies done on it and it’s interesting, from what I’ve read it seems that acupressure may have some effect on nausea and that it also works as a placebo. The bands are pretty cheap so it may be worth a try – I’m no doctor of course so definitely check with yours first. Here’s one of the studies:

    This is one place that sells them: I know there are others, this just happens to be the only one I’m familiar with.

    All the best to you – hugs!!

    • Wendy replied: — April 12th, 2012 @ 1:31 PM

      I’m sure she’ll be up for anything that might make her feel better. I’ll let her know about the wristbands. Thanks Beeb!

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    Keeley @ My Life on a Plate — April 12, 2012 @ 1:37 PM

    I’m not an expert in cancer, but my husband’s aunt has fought lung cancer twice and she’s a trooper. I do know from personal experience that ginger (or ginger candy or candied ginger) is good at keeping nausea at bay. You can buy candied ginger at Trader Joe’s or at a farmer’s market.

    • Wendy replied: — April 12th, 2012 @ 2:47 PM

      Several people have mentioned ginger. I’ll make sure she stocks up on it. This is a great reason to go to my favorite store, Trader Joe’s, and stock up on some healthy items. Thanks Keeley!

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    Jersey Girl Coooks — April 12, 2012 @ 6:23 PM

    Sorry to hear about your aunt. I have heard ginger is great for nausea too. I actually brought my friend(who is going thru breast cancer) some. You can make a spritzer with juice, fresh ginger and club soda.

    • Wendy replied: — April 12th, 2012 @ 6:38 PM

      The spritzer sounds very refreshing. Thanks for the rec Lisa!

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    Chef Dennis — April 12, 2012 @ 10:46 PM

    Wendy, I’m so sorry to hear about your Aunt, I wish I knew what to tell you for what she can eat, but it isn’t my area of expertise. I think you’re getting a lot of great advice from your friends. I do agree that both conventional and alternative methods should be used. Accpuncture has been used to lesson some of the side effects, but best to check with the Doctor first.
    If there is anything I can do to help don’t hesitate to ask.


    • Wendy replied: — April 13th, 2012 @ 9:45 AM

      Dennis thank you so much for your offer to help. I appreciate it:)

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    Priscilla - She's Cookin' — April 12, 2012 @ 11:16 PM

    So sorry to hear about your aunt, Wendy. Sending positive thoughts and hugs to both of you. I concur with the ginger recommendations, and am a believer in alternative methods to ease the pain and nausea. Wish I could be of more help.

    • Wendy replied: — April 13th, 2012 @ 9:46 AM

      Your comment of support is incredibly helpful. Thanks Priscilla.

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    Sara @OneTribeGourmet — April 13, 2012 @ 4:50 PM

    I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt. When I was a teenager I went through breast cancer with my mom..she was only 45. Thankfully that was back in 1988 and she is doing great! She did go through chemo & a mastectomy! At that time everyone told mom to eat foods which are good for the immune system and have anti-oxidants. Lots of green vegetables, fruits like blueberries and very low fat foods.

    • Wendy replied: — April 13th, 2012 @ 7:10 PM

      I’m sorry to hear that you went through this with your mother but I’m thrilled to hear that she is doing great. Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll make sure to pass them along.

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    Suzanne — April 14, 2012 @ 2:04 AM

    Sorry to here about your aunt’s cancer. I have heard that crystallized ginger helps with nausea.
    I just learned about this company that does alternative or homeopathic treatments for different things and I do believe I saw something about cancer. It’s very interesting and compelling to listen to some of the testimonials. I plan to order the products for my family for different ailments. Any here is a link

    • Wendy replied: — April 14th, 2012 @ 10:19 AM

      I’m not familiar with the site but I will definitely check it out. Thanks Suzanne!

  14. 14

    Kim Bee — April 15, 2012 @ 11:57 PM

    Hi Wendy. I am so sympathetic to this. My dad had it years ago and I took care of him during his illness. I am shooting you an email before I head to bed tonight so I can get it all in. But wanted to mention here so others can benefit as well that there is a drink on the market that has to be prescribed called Resource. It’s a super high calorie substitute for people who can’t eat (my dad had a tumour at the base of his throat and had trouble swallowing) or aren’t tolerating food well. It blows ensure and all that other stuff out of the water. I will tell you I think it’s what kept my dad hanging on so long. I swear it worked miracles. Sending some info your way shortly.

    • Wendy replied: — April 16th, 2012 @ 1:27 PM

      I have never heard of the drink you mentioned. Not sure my aunt has either. I will mention it to her. Sounds like a great thing to have on hand when it is hard to eat. Received your email. Will respond now. Thanks so much for everything Kim!

  15. 15

    Jeanette — April 18, 2012 @ 9:00 AM

    Wendy, so sorry to hear about your aunt. I have cooked for many friends with cancer and nausea, loss of appetite, mouth sores, and change in taste buds were some of the side effects they experienced. I made lots of soups and smoothies for them. I actually started my blog to record the foods I was making so you want some ideas, you can find my recipes here:
    If your aunt is willing, I would try to stick to a vegan diet (no animal protein/fat, no dairy). Soy is also not good for certain cancers. I made lots of lentil soups with leafy green vegetables and whole grains like farro and barley, and smoothies using berries and fruits full of antioxidants. My friends also added some protein powder to their smoothies for added nutrition. If I can help, please let me know.

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    Jeanette — April 18, 2012 @ 9:21 AM

    Wendy, left out a few things that might be obvious – eliminate all processed foods and sugar (sugar is believed to feed cancer cells). Eat as cleanly as possible, so organic is best. I love these books: Rebecca Katz’s Cancer-Fighting Kitchen (explains what anti-cancer effects each fruit/vegetable has), David Schreiber’s Anticancer: A New Way of Life. The China Study is also a fascinating read – recommends no animal products or sugar. Going for walks outdoors to get fresh air daily if possible – my friend with breast cancer did this and had no side effects from chemo.

    • Wendy replied: — April 18th, 2012 @ 10:19 AM

      Jeanette you have offered so much great information. I did not know that sugar is believed to feed cancer cells. Learning so much in this process. I will definitely check out your recipes and refer them to my aunt. Thank you so much for everything.

  17. 17

    Denise @ Creative Kitchen — April 19, 2012 @ 12:39 PM

    So sorry to hear this!! My mom is a raw vegan & I don’t necessarily think we should eat this way forever it has been proven to kill off cancer. So like most are saying….lots of green veggies, green smoothies, fruits, etc. Hoping for a positive outcome. I too have an Aunt Deb!

    • Wendy replied: — April 19th, 2012 @ 1:33 PM

      Thanks for your kind words Denise!

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    Jeanette — April 19, 2012 @ 2:32 PM

    I started a thread on my fb page to get input from my readers:

    The popsicle kit from HopeFull Company is a really neat product; comes with popsicle molds, recipes for nutrient dense, high protein popsicles specifically designed for patients undergoing chemo who have mouth sore. This might be something you or your aunt’s friends could make for her.

    • Wendy replied: — April 19th, 2012 @ 3:58 PM

      Wow! Thank you so much Jeanette!

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    Jayne — April 22, 2012 @ 9:55 AM

    I’m so sorry to hear about your Aunt, may I direct you to a blog on the subject of eating when suffering with cancer its written by a great cook who happens to be an Oncologist. The address My very best wishes to you both.

    • Wendy replied: — April 22nd, 2012 @ 7:06 PM

      Heading over to check out the site now. Thanks Jayne!

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    Magic of Spice — April 22, 2012 @ 2:40 PM

    Wendy and Deb, I am so sorry to here about this. I also believe in the power of positive thought, and although I am sure it can be difficult, keeping in good spirit is so critical.

    As for foods, I am no expert on the disease, but I do know that diets high in protein and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetable are key. I also agree with the use of ginger to help with nausea, and cardamon is a good one as well.

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