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Resources for Family Caregivers

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Nassif Community Cancer Center

Support for Caregivers of Cancer Patients

If you are helping your family member or friend through cancer treatment, you are a caregiver. This may mean helping with daily activities such as going to the doctor or making meals. It could also mean coordinating services and care. Or it may be giving emotional and spiritual support.

The tips below are for most cancer caregivers. But there are also more details available for caregivers dealing with advanced cancercaregiving after treatment ends, for parents with a child with cancer, and for teens with a family member with cancer.


Article from the National Cancer Institute

Recipes for the Top 5 Cancer-Fighting Fruits of summer

Blueberry Pancakes

Cooking Light January 2001

Yield 12 servings (serving size: 1 pancake) EmailPrint


  • 1 tablespoon and 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups low-fat or nonfat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • Cooking spray

How to Make It

  1. Take 1 tablespoon flour and toss with blueberries and set aside (prevents color from running). Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine buttermilk, egg substitute, and oil; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in blueberries.
  2. For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter onto a hot griddle or skillet coated with cooking spray. Turn pancakes when tops are bubbly and edges look cooked.
  3. Note: You can cut cholesterol and fat from your diet by using a commercial egg substitute instead of whole eggs. Egg whites are the main ingredient in most egg substitutes. Sodium, preservatives, and sometimes oil are added so that the product will taste and perform like whole eggs. When modifying your own recipes, use 1/4 cup egg substitute for each whole egg.

Nutrition Information calories 72 , fat 1.5 g, protein 2.9 g, carbohydrate 11.8 g, fiber 0.5 g, sodium 201 mg


Watermelon Granita

by Ree | The Pioneer Woman


  • 1/2 whole Seedless Watermelon, Cut Into Chunks (rind Discarded) (about 8 Cups Of Chunks)
  • 2 whole Limes, Juiced
  • 1/3 cup Sugar


Place half the watermelon, half the lime juice, and half the sugar in a blender. Process until smooth, then pour into a separate bowl.

Repeat with other half of ingredients. Pour into same bowl as other batch.

Transfer mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Freeze for two or three hours, then begin the process of lightly scraping the top, frozen layer. Return pan to freezer with the shaved ice on top; remove a couple of hours later and continue scraping. Repeat the occasional scraping process until the entire mixture is shaved. Store covered in plastic wrap until serving.

Serve in pretty glasses with a twist of lime.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition per serving:  78 calories, 1 gm protein, 0 gm fat, 20 gm carbohydrate, 2 mg sodium



Grilled Fruit Salad


  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into quarters
  • ½ medium seedless watermelon, peeled and cut into 3-inch or larger pieces
  • 15 grapes
  • 15 strawberries
  • 2 to 3 peaches or nectarines, halved
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Dressing
  • 1 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped basil (optional)


  1. Skewer strawberries and grapes onto wooden presoaked or metal skewers.
  2. Pat all cut fruit dry with paper towels.
  3. Preheat lightly greased grill to high.
  4. Lightly brush fruit with olive oil.
  5. Place fruit on a hot grill and cook until seared with grill marks.
  6. Remove, season with salt and pepper, and cool slightly before cutting into desired size.
  7. While fruit cools, prepare dressing.
  8. Place blackberries, honey, vinegar, and oil in a blender. Purée. Add water if needed to reach desired consistency.
  9. Drizzle over fruit or serve dressing on the side.


Makes 6 cups.

Nutrition per cup:  186 calories, 2 gm protein, 10 gm fat, 26 gm carbohydrate, 5 mg sodium

Recipe by SoFabFood at

Top 5 Cancer-Fighting Fruits of summer

Summer is the perfect season to enjoy colorful, cooling fruits, rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. But did you know the dark reds, bright oranges and deep purples that line the produce section this time of year are rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals? AICR’s  (American Institute For Cancer Research) expert report found that eating a variety of fruits can lower risk for oral, esophageal, lung and stomach cancers; and diets high in fiber can help protect against colorectal cancer.

We picked some cancer-fighting favorites that you can find fresh now.


  • They are an excellent source of vitamins C and K and the mineral manganese. These berries are also considered to be antioxidant powerhouses because of their phytochemical content.
  • Anthocyanins, catechins, quercetin, kaempferol and other flavonoids give these berries their blue color and help decrease free radical damage to DNA that can lead to cancer.
  • In cell studies these compounds helped decrease growth and stimulate self-destruction of mouth, breast, colon and prostate cancer cells.
  • Try it like this: Blueberry Pancakes


  • This staple of summertime contains vitamins C, A and potassium.
  • It’s also rich in lycopene, a potent antioxidant that research shows may help protect against prostate cancer.
  • Watermelon is a great food for weight control. A single one-cup serving can satisfy a sweet tooth with just 49 calories, making it one of the fruits least concentrated in sugar and calories.
  • Try it like this: Watermelon Granita


  • Peaches contain potassium and vitamin C.
  • A medium peach has only 58 calories, but packs 2g of fiber, making it ideal for weight control.
  • The bright orange color comes from beta-carotene, which may help reduce inflammation, improve immune function, protect DNA and help control cell growth in ways that may reduce cancer risk.


  • A good source of fiber, vitamin C and manganese these berries weigh in at just over 40 calories a serving so they won’t break the belt.
  • Strawberries contain ellagic acid, a phytochemical that has shown the ability to decrease growth and stimulate soft-destruction of mouth, breast, cervical, colon and prostate cancer cells.
  • Research suggests that ellagic acid seems to utilize several different cancer-fighting methods at once: it acts as an antioxidant, it helps the body deactivate specific carcinogens and it helps slow the reproduction of cancer cells.


  • Both red and green grape skins are rich in resveratrol, a phytochemical that has shown antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Laboratory research points to resveratrol’s ability to slow the growth of cancer cells and inhibit the formation of tumors in skin, liver, colon, prostate, lung and breast cells.
  • Red wine also contains significant amounts of resveratrol, however alcohol consumption has been linked to cancer of the breast, esophagus, mouth, pharynx and larynx.
  • Try it like this: Grilled Fruit Salad that has grapes, watermelon, pineapple, peaches and strawberries.

Variety Is Key

It’s important to remember that no single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself. But strong evidence does show that a diet filled with a variety of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans helps lower risk for many cancers.

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Taking Care of Yourself

Most of us are not prepared to be caregivers. We take on the role with love and good intentions, but we may experience feelings we never expected. Caregivers may encounter a range of feelings and concerns as they move along the path of caregiving.

There can be some surprisingly good feelings:
• Feeling closer and connected to your loved one
• Feeling good about what you are doing
• Feeling satisfied that you can help
• Confidence and feeling more competent than you thought you were
• Feeling some inspiration from the strength of your loved one Some feelings are intense. Caregivers may be surprised that they feel overwhelmed, guilty, sad, tearful, or even perplexed. But these feelings are normal.
• Stress. Stress can build up without our realizing it, when we worry a lot, become fatigued, or feel overwhelmed by responsibilities.
• Worry. It’s common to worry about a diagnosis, weigh treatment decisions, or even wonder if treatment is working.
• Frustration. You may have too much to do and no downtime, be unsure about what you’re doing, or feel unappreciated. It helps to talk
about these situations – even if talking about personal experience isn’t your style.
• Feeling overwhelmed. You may wonder if you’re living up to your own expectations of doing a good job.
• Feeling alone. Sometimes, the special connection you had with your loved one may seem lost.
• Sadness. Taking care of someone you love can cause deep sadness: for what is happening to your loved one and yourself, and for the changes in both of your lives.
• Grief. Grief happens whenever there is loss, including seemingly small losses, such as the loss of your normal routine. We also grieve when a loved one has changes that affect his or her functioning.
• Anger. You may feel anger about the unfairness of the cancer diagnosis, difficulties caused by treatment, or isolation you may feel as a caregiver
• Guilt. Guilt may come from feelings you didn’t anticipate, such as wanting this stressful experience to end or being the one who is not ill.

Click here for the rest of the article.

6 Smoothie Tips For Cancer Patients & Survivors

Juicing vs. Blending – What’s the Difference?

Posted on March 11, 2015 by Melissa Montalto, MS, RD, CD. This entry was posted in Eating Well.

It’s well-established that increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables is good for you. A review of studies has shown that eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day can decrease the risk of stroke by 26%, as well as reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. One study done in King County suggests that the antioxidants in fruit and vegetable juices may play an important role in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The more fruits and vegetables you consume, the greater the benefits! But it can be difficult for some people to consume the recommended five or more servings in one day. Juicing or blending fruits and vegetables into smoothies can be one easy way to get your daily servings in.

There’s a lot of talk these days about the health benefits of juicing and blending. But what’s the difference? And what kind of equipment do you need for each one?

Juicing is a process where the liquid part of the fruit or vegetable is separated from the pulp, or fiber. You get a thin and concentrated liquid product that contains vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients, which are bioactive plant-derived compounds associated with positive health effects. You specifically need a juicer to do this.

With blending, the whole fruit or vegetable is used: what you put in the blender is what you consume. The volume of the drink, which is often called a smoothie, will be much greater than that of a juice made from the same amount of fruits or vegetables. You can use anything from a standard blender to higher-end products like a Vitamix.

There are pros and cons to both juicing and blending. Juicing provides a very nutrient-dense beverage in a smaller amount of liquid. For those who need a low-fiber diet, juicing may be a better option. It’s important to note that the portion size of juice should be smaller than a blended beverage. Otherwise, you can get many calories from sugar in that cup of juice. Juicing can also be more expensive, as you have to use a greater volume of produce (for example, about 2 oranges, 1 stem of kale, ½ red pepper, 1 cup berries, and 1 stalk broccoli will make about one cup of juice but about 3 cups of smoothie).

With smoothies you retain the fiber, which can help you feel fuller and improve your digestive health. In addition, you can add other types of foods to smoothies like nuts, seeds, and yogurts to increase your intake of healthy protein and fats. This drink will be thicker and may take some time to get used to.

Either process can help you to increase your fruit and vegetable intake and create less waste in the kitchen. How many of us have seen our beautiful produce go bad because we didn’t have time to cook a meal or prepare the salad we were planning?

Some tips for juicing and/or blending:

  • To prevent excess sugars, limit the fruit in both juices and smoothies to 1-2 servings per drink (i.e. ½ cup to 1 cup fruit)
  • Green veggies like kale, spinach, parsley, and cabbage surprisingly do not taste very intense in smoothies or juice, so load up on those!
  • Citrus, lime juice in particular, can help to cut out any bitter taste from vegetables (remember to remove the peels)
  • When juicing, high water content vegetables like cucumbers and celery will help to add volume and nutrients
  • When blending smoothies, add regular or coconut water to make it less pulpy
  • You get what you pay for when buying a juicer or a blender: the current products claiming to have benefits over other standard blenders tend to have higher horsepower

Happy blending and juicing!

Please note: consult with your medical provider first if you have any medical condition.

Melissa Montalto is a registered dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator (TM) with a master’s degree from Bastyr University. In addition to working at the University of Washington Medical Center as an ICU dietitian and as a diabetes nutrition educator throughout the hospital, she also teaches weekly yoga classes the UW IMA.  

Take me out to the ball game – for families facing cancer

Here are some photos! Thank you Aiming for a Cure Foundation for all of your support for our patients and their families. 


Your Role as a Caregiver

The ripples of a cancer diagnosis extend to spouses, partners, siblings, children and friends. Many of these family members will find they now need to take on the role of caregiver—something they have never done before.

Your main job will be to support and encourage your loved one as they learn about their cancer and make decisions about and then start their cancer treatments. What will this involve? Not all caregivers do all of the same things, but a survey of 66 caregivers who are part of our Cancer Experience Registry® found:

  • 91% provided emotional support
  • 80% went with their loved one to medical appointments
  • 68% helped with decision-making
  • 55% coordinated medical care
  • 53% provided transportation
  • 45% helped manage finances

Becoming a caregiver may seem scary or overwhelming. Know that you are not alone: The Caregiver Action Network estimates that during any given year more than 65 million people in the U.S. spend about 20 hours each week caring for an ill, disabled or aged family member or friend.

There is a growing realization that caregivers need support, and there are programs and services that can help you as you care for your loved one. In fact, many caregivers decide to meet regularly with a social worker or join a family or caregiver support group to make sure they will have the time to talk about their own fears or worries. Support groups are also a good place to get information and advice about caregiving and cancer.

Remember: Sometimes the best thing you can do for your loved one is to just sit quietly together — be present, in the moment, sharing time

For the complete article and resources, click here.


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