Five Things You Can do for Someone with Cancer

So someone you care about just got diagnosed with Cancer. There are a LOT of emotions going on, most of them shitty ones. It’s a rough time. Really effing rough. Some people don’t know what to say or do, so they don’t do anything. Other folks, are there in an instant, offering ALL THE HELP. Others want to help, but just don’t know what to do. There is no “right” way to react. But you can be assured that if you act from the heart and it will mean something to your loved one.

  1. If they ask for help of some kind and you can be of assistance, do it. Folks going through Cancer treatment need rides, company, meals, distractions, and hope. Shortly after my diagnosis and meeting with my surgeon, my friend Kevin said, “What do you need from us?” My answer was that I didn’t want to feel alone. Cancer treatment is a very lonely thing because ultimately you have to endure this all by yourself. I wanted to avoid that feeling as much as possible, so I asked for walking buddies, visitors, and distractions. TeamKLB came through for me in a MILLION different ways.
  2. Calls, texts, cards, flowers, emails. The amount of people that were checking in on me really helped to pull me through emotionally. “Grief shared is halfed. Joy shared is doubled.” There is no truer quote for me. Because I shared my story so openly, a weight was lifted off of me. Check in on your loved one and allow them to share their feelings with you. This is not about how uncomfortable this may feel for you, this is about being there for your loved one.
  3. If your love language is Acts of Service (as mine is), here were my favorite acts of service: homemade healthy meals, helping me put Christmas away, cleaning my house, delivering food (usually Jamba Juice), and being a walking buddy.
  4. If your love language is Gifts, here are my favorite gifts: Whole Foods gift cards,  Nordstrom square silk scarves (for those that lose their hair), a lightweight sleeping cap (again for those that lose their hair), cozy blankets/socks/sweaters, breast cancer jewelry, book gift cards, iTunes gift cards, and boredom boxes with puzzles and the like. I got quite a few handmade gifts, which to me, fall under both Gifts and Acts of Service, and these were my most favorite: a watercolor of me, a cross stitch saying TeamKLB, and a hand carved wooden ribbon.
  5. Help your loved one get in contact with a Cancer support center. For me, Bay Area Cancer Connections was an integral component of my healing. They had tons of resources, as I’m sure other Cancer support centers do as well.

It saddens me that I need a post like this on my blog. My journey began in 2014 and I have been asked this question too many times already. I wish you the best, I wish your loved one the best, and I wish for a world without Cancer.

I’ll leave you with a quote.

“Having a complete meltdown IS handling your grief. Keeping it bottled up and deep inside you and not going into it is called avoiding your grief. It’s like standing in waves at the sea shore. In the beginning there are lots of rollers, they come very fast, they knock you all over the place. Down the road they come more slowly, but they never stop coming completely. And every so often there is just a killer wave that knocks you down, takes you under, flips you down and up and down, until all you can do is hope that very soon you will pop into the air and be able to catch a breath. YOU don’t handle the waves, the WAVES handle you. Give yourself as much time and space as you need. The less you fight the waves, the sooner you pop up into the air again.”

Hugs and Health <3,

Katie

Things Cancer has Taught Me

Hi friends!

Well it’s been a while since my last post. All is well. In going to my support groups, I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned since all of this began just three month ago. There are things that I’m grateful for and things that really piss me off. Today, I’ll post about the things cancer has taught me, and I’ll save my rants and raves for another post.

1. When someone you care about gets diagnosed with something (anything), it’s hard to know what to say. For me, I know I would probably cry if I talk with someone about their scary diagnosis, so I know I’ve avoided it in the past. BAD KATIE! I now know that whatever I do/say, I need to do/say something. Whether it is a call, a card, a text, an email, it doesn’t matter, just doing something to show that I care is what matters. Since my diagnosis, so many people have reached out to me (some that I’m close to, some that I’m not close to – even the checker at whole foods gave me a hug!!) and I have learned that people just want to know that others are rooting for them in their time of need. Obviously, I have the best team ever, because I am constantly reminded of this. This was lesson number one and a lesson I needed to learn.

2. Don’t take a single moment for granted. While I know that I am going to be cancer free very soon and I am going to live a long and healthy life, hearing “it’s cancer” makes you think about your mortality. After one of my first doctors appointments, I had dinner with friends and family because I wanted to spend as much time as I have with people that are important to me. I remembering telling Jim, “Life is for living” which to means that I’d like to spend as much time as I can doing the things I love and spending time with the people I love.

3. Everything is normal, until it’s not. That was on a billboard about strokes that I used to pass on my way to/from Bauman College. For the first few weeks after my diagnosis, that saying came back to me many times because it definitely suited the situation. I feel like, at times, I took my health for granted, and once I was no longer healthy I wished that I had been better to myself (eating, sleeping, exercise, etc.).

4. Get off my butt and exercise! I know that I am totally guilty of complaining about not wanting to workout or exercise after a long day of work or just because I’m feeling lazy. But now that my ability to exercise has been very limited, I wish so badly that I could go for a run, bike ride, hike, or swim. Looking into the future, when I feel like skipping out on my exercise, I’m going to remember this time and make myself do it. PLUS, exercise is super important in disease prevention/reduction of symptoms.

5. It’s okay to cry. Whenever. For whatever reason(s).

6. The people that are most important in my life are the people that have been supportive through my time of need. People that haven’t been supportive, aren’t people that I need in my life. True colors….

7. Dogs are awesome. Jax, Zoe, Izzi, and Pismo have been the BEST company to have with me each day. If you don’t have a dog, I highly recommend reconsidering that decision. 🙂

8. Being more grateful. I started my #100happydays project to help me with being more grateful for the good things in my life and the timing for the project couldn’t have been more appropriate. It has now become my #cancerbabeshappydays project and it has helped me to realize that being grateful and appreciating the good things is really valuable. (If you’re not on FB/IG, I try to post a picture of something that has made me happy each day and I include the hashtag #cancerbabeshappydays.)

9. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s also okay to be weak and vulnerable. It’s all a part of life. We’re in this together.

10. I have the best team. I know that I’ve said this before, but I really mean it, and it comes straight from the heart. You all are **AMAZING**. Thank you. I love you.

Well… that’s it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say that I’m grateful for cancer, because well, then I’d be a masochist. And I’m not a fan of the “everything happens for a reason” or the “it’s part of god’s plan” BS either (I’m agnostic). But I am grateful for the person that I’m becoming because of it. I have learned a lot and I know I will continue to do so.

XOXO

Katie

7/12/14

TeamKLB,

Second round of chemo is going a bit better than the first so far. Definitely tired, but maybe a bit less tired than before. Or maybe I’m just used to having less energy? Hair shaving party went well. It was a very emotional day for me, and considering that I’m quite the crier, I didn’t cry too much. 😉 I definitely had some second thoughts about whether to have the party. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to the party, but in the end, it was the right decision for me to be surrounded by #teamklb. I felt loved and supported and it was easier for me show my bald head to world after showing it to y’all first. Thanks to those of you who made it, and to those of you that were there in spirit. It trHair shaving partyuly means a lot. My hairstylist came and did my makeup first, which I think was a good decision for me. Thanks Laura! A good friend of mine took photos for me. Thanks Vanessa! Thanks for the food, the positive energy, and the gifts that I continue to receive – you are all too generous!  I appreciate you all more than you will ever know.

 

I recently read Anticancer, by David Servan-Schreiber. Highly recommended by the way! He helps to bridge the gap between what your doctors are telling you and what they aren’t telling you – like what you can do to help yourself. This is what people diagnosed with a disease want to hear – give me some control and power when I feel like I have no control and no power over this situation.  He is an MD and a PHD and a two time brain cancer survivor- so this isn’t quackery here! Main recommendations: 1) eat a diet similar to what we already eat – lots of plants, quality meats, low sugar, low refined carbs, low poor fats, 2) meditation 3) support groups, 4) exercise. This brings me to my “favors”. One, there are two support groups that I’d like to attend, but they’re on Tuesday nights in Palo Alto and I’m not driving much these days. If you’re interested and free on the first and third Tuesdays, let me know and we can talk details. Two, I’m interested in trying to go for a walk everyday -30 minutes is recommended, and I’d like a buddy to help me get motivated to get out when I’m feeling tired and to be there on the walks with me just in case I’m not feeling good and I don’t want to be far from home and alone. I’m thinking evenings to avoid the heat and sun (chemo drugs and sun don’t mix well). Again, hit me up if you like to be a regular walking buddy or an occasional buddy. I’m open to whatever.

Again, #teamklb, I’m eternally grateful.

Xoxoxo,

Katie

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Basil

While working at the Campbell Farmer’s Market, basil was always a top seller for Tomatero. Tomatoes, strawberries, and basil always brought folks to the booth. In fact, one of my coworkers would often wave some basil through the air to release the scent to help lure them in like Yogi Bear. I love basil. I like making traditional caprese salads, basil pesto, and my awesome sister-in-law Amy, makes a watermelon caprese salad (watermelon subs nicely for tomatoes for those avoiding nightshades). Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests trying a nut free pesto – using sunflower seeds or adding fresh peaches and basil to ice cream! YUMMMY! What’s your favorite use for basil?

Food Facts:

  • Sweet basil is the variety that we typically eat, however Holy basil or tulsi is a variety that is coveted for its medicinal purposes and is native to India.
  • Excellent source of vitamins A, K, and C and maganese.
  • It is rich in antioxidants, especially carotenoids.
  • Basil’s essential oils are antifungal and antimicrobial and have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi.
  • It is also an anti-inflammatory and can be used to support conditions where inflammation is a factor.
  • Basil should be stored with stems in a glass of water on the counter. Putting basil in the fridge turns it black.
  • There are more than 60 varieties of basil.
  • It belongs to the mint family.
  • Some of the major medicinal uses include: digestive support, a mild sedative, headache relief, kidney support, poor circulation, and intestinal spasms.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard.

July 2014 Book of the Month – AntiCancer

July’s Clean Eating book of the the month: Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PHD. In the wake of my Breast Cancer diagnosis in 2014, I read as many books on cancer as I could get my hands on. I’m sure I’m not alone here. Anticancer was by far my favorite.  In this *five strawberry* book, Servan-SchreibScreen Shot 2016-06-24 at 5.28.40 PMer tells readers what they can do to help keep cancer at bay, keep it from coming back, or to surpass a not-so-optimistic prognosis.

Dr. Servan-Schreiber helps to bridge the gap between what the oncologists are telling patients and what they aren’t telling patients – like what cancer patients can do to help themselves. This is what people diagnosed with a disease want desperately to hear – give them some control and power when they feel like they have no control and no power over this situation. He is an MD and a PHD and a two-time brain cancer survivor– so this isn’t quackery here!

In Anticancer, Dr. Servan-Schreiber details his cancer story (or stories, I should say), studies about patients, and several main recommendations. Those recommendations are: 1) eat a diet that includes lots of plants, high-quality meats, low in sugar, low in refined carbs, and low in poor-quality fats, 2) supporting a healthy state of mind through meditation, 3) avoiding the fear hamster wheel by attending support groups, and lastly 4) getting enough exercise.
Servan-Schreiber tells readers that “[c]ancer lies dormant in all of us. Like all living organisms, our bodies are making defective cells all the time. That’s how tumors are born. But our bodies are also equipped with a number of mechanisms that detect and keep such cells in check.” This quote instills a bit a fear in me, knowing that cancer can be happening to all of us, all the time, BUT it also inspires hope because it empowers each of us to know that we have the power to make changes in our bodies and our futures.

A great read for anyone working to avoid cancer in their lifetime, anyone with cancer, cancer survivors, or caregivers. Anticancer gives readers the feeling of some control and power in battling this disease. Highly recommended for everyone!