Category: Newsletter

Cancer in the time of Covid: Get Ready for the Holidays!

This year the holidays will look and feel quite different for us.

As a result of the COVID-19 virus we are being compelled to not gather in numbers and to make an effort to reduce exposure to others.  What…no massive holiday dinners to prepare or parties to attend, no shopping ‘til we drop???  Might we really be able to follow through on our annual commitment to not become exhausted and overwhelmed?

Granted, we will be doing our best, despite our imposed limitations, to create an environment that allows us to celebrate and “connect” with the important people in our lives, so here are some tips to help us stay healthy and sane!

Connect, connect, connect – Just because we can’t hug and touch doesn’t mean we can’t “be with” those we love.  By now we have all probably figured out the wonders of the internet, Zoom, Facetime, etc.  MAKE A PLAN and set a date and time to “be with” family and friends over the holidays.  It is more important than ever this holiday season to combat isolation and loneliness.

Conserve your energy -Cancer and treatment are a HUGE energy drain.  PLAN your activities so that you have the energy to do what is most important to you.  Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot do.

Attend to your own self-care – You know what you need to do to take care of yourself and it is critical to not let those things slip off your plate.  Get in a walk each day or whatever form of exercise you have been doing, take that afternoon nap and keep eating a healthy diet. If you practice meditation or mindfulness, be sure to continue with your practice.  All of your efforts toward self-care will BOOST your energy level!

On-line shopping – Accomplish in a few hours what usually takes days to do!  You won’t be putting your health at risk, stressing out over lines at the register, traffic or parking.

Managing the Emotional Triggers

The holidays can be an emotional time under the best of circumstances and this year your “emotional buttons” may be even bigger and more accessible.  Maybe the COVID virus is preventing you from traveling or gathering to be with those you love.  Maybe this is your first holiday living with a cancer diagnosis and the future feels so uncertain right now.  Maybe you are feeling so emotionally and physically depleted you are dreading the upcoming holidays.  Feeling sad, anxious, and stressed are absolutely normal, BUT you don’t have to be consumed by these feelings.

 

Create a NEW tradition – While we may not be able to engage in the holiday traditions we have come to look forward to, think about creating a new tradition.

  • Choose family or friends that you want to join you and set a date and time to have a virtual “toast” to the holidays.
  • Have everyone create a holiday decoration, set a date and time to have a virtual “show” and vote on the winning decoration.
  • Choose a day during the holiday season and go for an early morning walk or hike.

 

Celebrate resilience & strength – This has been a year unlike any most of us have ever known before. Obviously, we have been living with a pandemic for most of the year all while living with a cancer diagnosis.  Stop for a moment and reflect on what you have been able to do! We are often quick to see our shortcomings or challenges but not our strengths.  Write yourself a letter of admiration, create a collage, write a song or a poem…CELEBRATE YOU!

Talk and share your feelings with others – Nothing good will come from hunkering down with “me, myself and I” for days on end.  We run the risk of getting caught in that crazy cycle of unwanted thoughts that only raise our stress, anxiety and fear.  Having the opportunity to talk about all that is running through our heads diminishes the power those unwanted thoughts have over us!

Set-up REGULAR on-line visits and/or telephone calls with family and friends. There is tremendous value and comfort to be gained from seeing the faces and hearing the voices of the important people in our lives.

Register to join on-line support groups. Nothing can compare to the feeling of being a part of a community of people who truly understand your experience and “get it.” Support groups (all cancers & cancer specific) meet regularly and welcome new members!  For dates and times go to the Cancer Lifeline website www.cancerlifeline.org/support-groups/

Call the Lifeline or use the Lifeline chat. Need someone to listen and help you sort out your feelings? Call the Lifeline at (800) 255-5505 or (206) 297-2500 (Monday – Friday 9am-5pm PST).  Lifeline chat (instant messaging service) is also available Monday – Friday 9am-5pm and can be accessed through the Cancer Lifeline website www.cancerlifeline.org simply by clicking the green “We are here to listen” button.

Access Cancer Lifeline’s Therapist Referral Program. Receive names of therapists in the local community who have experience working with people affected by cancer.  Referrals and support in choosing a therapist are available for patients, survivors, family members, friends, and oncology professionals. Find out more at https://cancerlifeline.org/therapist-referral-program/

 

Meet the Milliner: the artist behind a growing Cancer Lifeline Breakfast tradition!

Kelly Christy has created hats for clients across the globe. Since 2015 she has graciously shared her one-of-a-kind works of arts with “Breakfast with Friends” at the Writing for the Moment tables. Facilitator Peggy Sturdivant was already a Christy Kelly admirer and longtime Table Captain when inspiration struck, how better to encourage potential guests than with cocktail hats? She also knew that Kelly had recently lost a sister, Kari Anne, to cancer, and that the event would be healing for her.
In a family of seven siblings, Kari Anne was the baby sister to all. She had lived with metastasized melanoma for nearly 15 years. The family had all gathered in Chicago for her 50th birthday. At the first Cancer Lifeline appearance of her amazing millinery line, the loss was still quite raw. However being among friends, and using her magic to match the ideal hat to the person was uplifting then, and in subsequent years, for Kelly, and for those lucky enough to be coiffed by her.
Kelly Christy brings mainly her cocktail hats (such as Purple Extravaganza, Frenchie in Cognac, Fluff & Dagger) for the event but has been working on a new line of soft pattern hats for winter and bigger straw hats for the summer. At the 2018 Breakfast, one woman bought the hat off her head. She had not seen herself in it but could see the sheer delight in the eyes of those at her table. Peggy Sturdivant, Barbara Chilcote, and fellow writer and Board Member Tracy Peltier never have any trouble filling their tables: their secret sauce is the generosity of Kelly Christy, sharing her creations for the event. For those who want to be so lucky year-round, the handcrafted collection is available at kellychristyhats.net.
For more information about Breakfast with Friends, click here.

Love Your Heart: Heart Healthy Foods

Heart disease is the #1 disease in the United States, killing more women than every type of cancer combined! As well, cardiotoxicity is a side effect of many chemotherapies. While genetics play a large role in health, it isn’t the complete picture. Diet and lifestyle help determine whether or not genes will be expressed in the first place. The American Heart Association states that as many as 80% of heart attacks could have been prevented through healthier lifestyle alone.

Foods that are important to include for cardiovascular health include:

  • Beans/Legumes (in place of animal proteins or alongside)
  • Cocoa (dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa)
  • Grape Juice/Red Wine (4-6 ounces per day only, more than this increases disease)
  • Nuts/Seeds (look for raw nuts and stores in the refrigerator or freezer ideally)
  • Oats/Oatmeal (but not the sugary instant kind)
  • Berries (look for organic and mostly only in season – spring/summer ideally)
  • Dark leafy greens (includes broccoli for essential minerals)

Our bodies need cholesterol, which is I a type of lipid, to make cell membranes, hormones, Vitamin D, and bile acids needed to digest and absorb fats. What is “bad” about cholesterol isn’t the substance itself but whether or not it will harden into plaques.

Our bodies need some fat, but you need the right kind. You should eliminate or reduce saturated fat found in animal products like beef, pork, and dairy foods while increasing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in avocados, chia seeds, hempseed oils, natural peanut butter, nuts and seeds, and other unrefined plant oils.

To keep your heart healthy you should also try to do these daily:

1 – Move your body. Research shows that daily activity, such as brisk walking, swimming, and cycling, can reduce blood pressure. Start slowly and aim for 15 minutes increasing to 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.

2 – Stay calm. Stress can raise blood pressure, while relaxation techniques appear to lower it. Learn and practice a mind-body approach such as breath work, yoga or medication and take advantages of its benefits regularly. So BREATHE!

3 – Eat a healthy diet. Adequate intake of nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamins, is essential to maintain blood vessels and healthy circulation.

Avoid Trans-fats. Found in most margarine, candies, snack foods, processed foods, and some cooking oils, (often listed on food labels as “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oil), reduce HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and raise :D: (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Also,  avoid overheated fats, such as oil used for deep-frying. These fats are oxidized or damaged, therefore regular consumption is likely to have a variety of negative health effects.

Reduce Animal protein. Excessive animal foods have been shown to raise levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that may contribute to heart disease. Substitute some animal protein with any legume – aim for 1-2 servings such as lentils,  split peas, pinto beans, tofu, edamame, or black beans per day.

Reduce refined carbohydrates. Sugar (cookie, cakes, crackers, soft breads, chips, and sodas) can increase triglyceride levels, harden plaques, and lower HDL.

Reduce Sodium. Excessive sodium has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. The main sources are store-bought bread, boxed and canned foods, and restaurant food. Adding a dash of sea salt to homemade meals is not seen to be a problem, it is negligible in comparison to the amounts in pre-made foods.

 

Presented by Ami Karnosh, MS, Nutritionist. Ami regularly presents classes for Cancer Lifeline as part of PCC Cooks at the Green Lake PCC.  To learn more about upcoming classes, check out our class listings.

Newsletter Winter 2018

Dear Friends of Cancer Lifeline,
Three years ago, Cancer Lifeline’s Board of Directors appointed a group of key stakeholders to create a strategic plan for our 45 year old non-profit. That plan had the primary objective of creating a clear path toward firm financial footing for the organization. First and foremost was the development of a plan to expand revenue by creating opportunities for us to reach more people in new locations. To do this we had to look at our business model and acknowledge that as the need for our services has grown, our programs have expanded through our hospital partnerships and the use of the Dorothy O’Brien
Center, our home since 2000, had changed – we were no longer location specific…
Read more