War as a metaphor for cancer can be relieved of duty

Betsy de Parry

Betsy de Parry

Call me a conscientious objector, but I’d like to demilitarize cancer.

Popular culture has long used war as a metaphor to describe the human experience of cancer. We are attacked by an enemy (cancer), unwillingly conscripted, and expected to fight with the help of generals (doctors) and allies (other medical personnel) who counterattack with an arsenal of weapons.

I don’t think so. Cancer begins with a single mistake within our bodies, so why would I want to think of my body as an enemy when, for the most part, it has served me well? I wasn’t about to go to war with myself even when my body made a mistake. Continue reading

Don’t let compassion fatigue rob you of the ability to care

compassion fatigueCompassion fatigue is a physical, mental and emotional drain suffered by those who care for others. Caregivers develop compassion fatigue by internalizing the suffering or trauma of those they care for. While the term compassion fatigue originated in the field of nursing in the early 90s, it applies broadly to anyone who is in a helping profession or is a caregiver.

Anyone can over use their compassion and empathy skills just as athletes can overuse their muscles and need to take a break from competition. Compassion fatigue isn’t the same as burnout, says the American Institute of Stress. Compassion fatigue can take months to years to develop and often the person affected does not immediately realize it. Co-workers or family members may notice some of these common symptoms: Continue reading

Stop leftover fatigue: cooking healthy for one or two

cooking healthyThere are many life events that may result in having to cook for fewer people than you are used to. If you do not adjust your recipes you could end up eating leftovers three or four times in a row. Others might find themselves eating out more often or choosing more convenience foods as an alternative. But these convenience foods tend to be high in fat, sodium and sugar and don’t typically include enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which have been proven to reduce cancer risk, as well as the risk of other chronic diseases.

Following are tips for easy meals that don’t leave you with days of leftovers or mountains of dishes to clean up.

Supplement with fruits, vegetables and whole grains

When using prepared foods, don’t take them as they are, but add the healthful ingredients that may be missing:

  • Canned soup: Add sautéed vegetables, frozen mixed vegetables, or canned, rinsed beans to increase the anti-cancer rich ingredients.
  • Boxed pasta or pasta sauce: Add sautéed or frozen vegetables to decrease the fat and calories per serving. Add canned beans, chicken or tuna, or frozen, thawed shrimp for added protein without additional effort.
  • Deli items: Add canned tuna and chopped vegetables to pasta salad or add vegetables or beans to other sides such as potato salad, coleslaw or rice dishes.
  • Baked chicken: complement with a salad and baked potato cooked quickly in the microwave. Top with low-fat cheese for a complete meal.
  • Frozen pizza: make it gourmet by adding several different sautéed or roasted vegetables, or canned pineapple.
  • Rice, barley, quinoa or other whole grains: After cooking, add pine nuts, dried fruit, grated or chopped vegetables, seeds or herbs to bring it from average to superb.
  • Canned beans: Just fill a tortilla with drained or fat-free refried beans, vegetables and salsa for an easy, no cook burrito.
  • Salad mix: top with nuts, seeds or hardboiled egg whites, dried or fresh fruit, and chopped or grated vegetables for a meal that packs a protein, nutrient and fiber-rich punch.

Enlist friends

Consider shopping and cooking with friends. A whole cabbage may be too much for you to eat in a week but perfect when split with a friend. Or you can take turns cooking or share leftovers for more variety and less effort.

Consider snacking

A few healthful snacks can substitute for a bigger meal. Focus on whole fruit or cut-up vegetables with nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese, low-fat cheese, or whole grain bread or crackers with hummus dip or peanut butter.

Lastly, don’t discount making bigger batches of foods that will freeze well such as soups, casseroles and breads. These can be frozen in single or double serving portions to use on busy or low-energy days, instead of resorting to takeout or pre-packaged food that is higher in sodium and fat.

Take the next step:

  • Spruce up your menus with these delicious, healthful recipes from our cancer nutritionists.

Continue reading about healthy eating and cancer prevention:


U-M CCC dietitians NEWRegistered dietitians who are specially trained in the field of oncology nutrition provide cancer nutrition services at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. They focus on assessing the individual dietary and nutrition needs of each patient and providing practical, scientifically sound assistance.

 

 

Cancer-center-informal-vertical-sig-150x150The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.

Sexual function after prostate cancer treatment: don’t be afraid to ask!

sexual function after prostate cancerWhether patients undergo surgery, hormonal therapy, or radiation therapy as active treatment of prostate cancer, all can have treatment-related sexual side effects. As many as 20% to 80% of men can expect to experience some disruptions to their usual sexual function after prostate cancer treatment, which can include changes in sex drive, erections or orgasms.

The good news is these changes to a man’s sex life, while common, can be managed with the appropriate education and resources. Men should expect that their sexual function will be affected. They will have to make some accommodations in their sexual experiences and relationships but no one has to give up their sex life as a condition of managing prostate cancer. Continue reading

Living with a urinary diversion or neobladder

urinary diversionA patient with bladder cancer called and told me that she was scheduled to have her bladder removed (cystectomy). Her daughter was getting married in another state and she wanted to know about traveling after the surgery. I was happy to tell her that people with a urinary diversion are usually able to return to the life, work, and hobbies they previously enjoyed, including travel.

When the bladder is removed, it is necessary to create a new method for the patient’s body to handle urine. Urinary reconstruction and diversion is a surgical method to create a new way for you to pass urine. There are three ways to do this, called urinary diversions: Continue reading

Pause and take a deep breath

For many the initial reaction of hearing “It’s cancer” is shock followed by “I need to get this out.” Michael Sabel, M.D., chief of surgical oncology at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, shares why it’s OK to take a deep breath, and consider all your options before starting treatment.

 

 

Take the next step:

  • Read one patient’s decision on pausing before deciding on her course of treatment
  • Find out why it’s OK to seek a second opinion

 

The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s 1,000 doctors, nurses, care givers and researchers are united by one thought: to deliver the highest quality, compassionate care while working to conquer cancer through innovation and collaboration. The center is among the top-ranked national cancer programs, and #1 in Michigan according to U.S. News & World Report. Our multidisciplinary clinics offer one-stop access to teams of specialists for personalized treatment plans, part of the ideal patient care experience. Patients also benefit through access to promising new cancer therapies.