Ask For Help
A cancer diagnosis is NOT a death sentence. You can and WILL get through this. As long as there is breath in your lungs, you have an opportunity to beat this disease and come out the other side, stronger both physically and emotionally than before. But you as the old saying goes, “No Man/Woman is an island” and during your battle and recovery, you are going to need some form of physical and emotional support from others. You need to start to “Build Your Village” your dream team of health professionals, friends and family members.
Below are some tips which have been gathered and compiled from our experience and the experience of many people who have been in the same situation and would have loved to have this information when they were planning their journey.
Once you have taken time to breathe and explore your options, it is important to ask for help and more importantly, be open to receiving it. Many of us go through life dedicating our time to doing things for others, but rarely accepting help when offered. Often people feel that accepting help is a sign of weakness, but this is certainly not true and a notion you should immediately drop and replace with thoughts of appreciation that people love you enough to care.
When my dear Mother was diagnosed with cancer, as a Son and a nutritionist, I desperately wanted to help her in any way I could. I travelled from Australia to New Zealand seven times in six months to visit her and offer support by cooking, cleaning, shopping, walking her dog and doing anything I could to reduce her stress and allow her time to focus on getting well. I vigorously researched for ways to care for her and help her heal but was disappointed at how much conflicting information there was; and how much misinformation there was from doctors, dieticians and Cancer Councils around the world. This frustration is what motivated me to create this website/resource to save other cancer patients the same frustration and provide an “all in one” resource so they can find the information they need to start healing without wasting precious time.
Loved ones will naturally feel helpless when they find out that someone they care about has been diagnosed with cancer. Allowing them to help you, will make them feel better that they are able to do something to offer you support. It’s a win/win situation. You can gain a lot of strength if you are open to letting others show their love for you through their actions. You might think that you don’t need help to do some of the things you are capable of doing yourself, however having support in doing some house cleaning, preparing meals or just walking your dog, can relieve some stress and allow you to spend more time on the things which can help you heal and get well. It’s not a matter of being lazy, it’s a matter of prioritizing where your precious energy is best spent.
You will find that when your friends and family find out you have cancer, they will rush around with home cooked meals, which is very kind, but most people do not understand that what you eat when you are combatting cancer, can have a very significant positive, or negative effect on the outcome. Caring family and friends often think that baking you a nice cake, full of refined processed carbohydrates and sugar will cheer you up and “hearty” dishes like lasagne will be a great way of helping you gain weight. Soon enough your fridge and freezer will be full of Tupperware containers which you can no longer remember which one belongs to who. Then, if you are polite like my Mother and don’t like to waste food, you will eat them, even though you know it’s probably killing you. Sounds harsh, but it’s true.
We know that consuming nutrient dense, low glycemic whole foods will provide our body and cells the building blocks they need to heal from within. We also know that foods such as pastas, breads, cakes and other refined, processed carbohydrates, along with processed meats can fuel cancer cells, speeding up their growth and should be avoided at all costs.
So do your friends and family a favour and let them know at the get go that you will NOT be eating cakes, pastas, anything with refined carbohydrates and nothing that has come from a packet until you have beaten the cancer and if they would like to bring you food, please make sure it is unprocessed and contains foods only from the Fit 50 list. You can print a copy or send a link to the Fit 50 to your friends and family HERE.
Every individual’s severity of cancer will vary and therefore, so will their ability to care for themselves and the level of care they may require. You might have a mild form of cancer which requires very little attention and may not have a significant affect your day to day life, or you might require a lot of assistance until you are well. Either way, having a plan and a surrounding yourself with a team of people who have your back, can help reduce stress and help clear a path for your recovery. You don’t have to walk that path alone.
Start thinking about the things which you may find difficult to maintain doing yourself while you are undergoing treatments/protocols or planning your recovery.
Start with the people you live with. What additional things can your spouse, children or parents do for you that you would normally do? For example, house cleaning/maintenance, grocery shopping, taking your children to after school activities etc. Compile a list, or we would recommend downloading our template on the “Make a Plan” page.
Then start delegating the other things can they do to help you with your at home treatment, such as preparing juices and smoothies and your healing meals from the FCWF Meal Plan etc. Many hands make light work and maintaining consistency with your nutrition is critical. Ensuring you are consuming foods which are designed to not only nourish your body but also create an inhospitable place for cancer to survive, is incredibly important. Making the juices, meals and shakes is not difficult but it will require some time on your feet and you don’t want to risk being tired and missing them as a result of not having the energy to prepare them.
Again, having a plan and having people help you execute it is imperative. More on this is covered in the next page “Make a Plan”.
Once you have visited the next page and made your plan, we recommend holding a meeting with your family and friends so that you can discuss who will support you and in what way. Write down what has been decided and ensure everyone knows their role and is 100% sure that they can commit to it. Download the template HERE or visit the “Make a Plan” page.
Some tasks such as walking your dog, you might really enjoy and the exercise and sun exposure (We recommend 15-20 mins of sun exposure per day) might actually be beneficial for you and you might want to retain. Some people find housework therapeutic and a good source of gentle exercise. We are not saying you should become lazy or become disconnected to your normal day to day life, however delegating tasks which may be physically or mentally draining can allow you to reserve your energy for activities which can help you heal and get well sooner.
We can’t express how important it is for you to find a GP and oncologist who is on your team and not only makes you feel comfortable to ask questions but is also supportive and accepting of you wanting to explore other options and seek second opinions. You might naturally think that your GP and oncologist would have your back, but too often medical practitioners who regularly deal with cancer patients, become complacent and instead of seeing you as an individual who may require an individual approach, they prescribe the same course of treatment as the last patient.
As we discussed in “Take a Deep Breath”, oncologists really only have three tools in their toolkit. Cutting, poisoning or burning cancer. (Operate, Chemotherapy or Radiation) And if that doesn’t work, then palm you off to alternative therapies as a “last resort”. However, if you tell your oncologist you wish to try natural therapies first, they will tell you you are wasting time and continue to use scare tactics to convince you to start traditional therapies immediately.
Most doctors and oncologists will tell you that your getting cancer was just bad luck, something that was just random, something you had no control over. However, we now know that 85% of cancers are caused by dietary or lifestyle factors, yet you will not find one GP or oncologist that will tell you that your cancer could have been caused by your diet, internal and environmental toxins or unresolved emotional issues, including poorly managed stress. A lot of people take their advice, have surgery, go through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, maybe even a few bouts of radiation and then due to no fault of their own, resume the same habits that caused the cancer in the first place and get a reoccurrence and wonder why. I say “at no fault of their own” because no one actually tells cancer patients how to prevent reoccurrences.
It is important that when you ask for help from a medical or alternative health practitioner, you dissect the advice they provide you and firstly see how it sits with you and secondly, assess whether the information makes logical sense. Don’t just do something just because someone in a white coat told you to. For example, clinical dieticians you will meet at the hospital will prescribe you products to maintain your weight or even “fatten you up” during and post treatment. Products such as a premixed drink called Ensure, contains 1.5 times more sugar than cola. If you read the resources in this website, you will come to understand that cancer cells and tumours thrive on the glucose/sugar and therefore should be avoided. There are much better ways to increase weight and energy without stimulating cancer growth by using whole foods or homemade smoothies which do not contain sugars.
By the same token, while we have researched the science, write from personal experience and have interviewed actual cancer patients, we don’t expect you to believe everything we say. That is why we will always try and explain the logic behind our advice, and we encourage you to further investigate our principals and recommendations so you can confirm that our advice sits well with you. It is important that you understand the “why” and “how” so you can have faith you are walking the path to a healthier you.
If you are unable to work due to your illness, depending where you live, you may be entitled to sick leave to a certain extent from your employer and then fortnightly payments from the government to help with your living costs. Speak to your employer and accountant to see what options are available to you.
Depending on how you feel, you might decide you wish to continue to work, however, if your job causes you any significant amount of stress, we highly recommend taking a break to focus your energy on your health.
If you require home care, your spouse, parent or children may be entitled to taking “Carers Leave”. They need to speak with their employer to see if they qualify, however in Australia, unused sick leave can be taken as carers leave to assist with a close relative.
Speak with your GP about what kind of assistance you can receive in the form of housecleaners, counselling, Occupational Therapy sessions, dog walkers, massage/lymphatic drainage sessions, home aids such as commodes, seats for showers, walking aids, bed modifications, circulation pads for seats etc, transport to and from medical appointments (Cancer Council and other volunteer associations). Your GP might not be able to arrange everything for you but they should be able to give you the contact details for the organisations who can. You might be surprised at just how much assistance is available if you just ask.
Seeing someone you love go through such a difficult time in their life, can leave carers feeling helpless as well as emotionally and physically drained. Naturally their focus becomes directed towards helping the person dealing with cancer get well and without any intention, their own health and emotional wellness can take second place.
For the benefit of the person dealing with cancer, carers often try to hide this strain, however, they too need to look after their health and emotional wellbeing or run the risk of also becoming unwell.
This advice is more directed at situations where the cancer patient is house bound for a period of time or stationed at a hospital, but it is important that the primary carers take time to themselves every now and then, that they continue to eat well, get some fresh air and exercise and maintain connections with people other than the cancer patient.
Loved ones will naturally drop everything to offer you assistance if you have been diagnosed with cancer, however it is important that you encourage your carer/s to also look after themselves and ask for help if they need it.