Time to Talk: Young Adults Chat About Coping with Mom’s Cancer

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“I would like to share this story with you, maybe it will give you some hope.” began one of the participants in Tuesday’s Time to Chat: Coping with Mom’s Cancer – an intimate WhatsApp group chat session dedicated to young adults and led by Psychologist and PhD Researcher Jihane Ghorayeb.

The spirit of helping each other set the tone of the entire chat that also covered various topics, such as:

  • How the roles and responsibilities of siblings shift during mom’s treatment.
  • The need for a breather every now and then, which translates into a need to go out and be with friends.
  • That nagging feeling within that we’re not doing enough, no matter how much we try, and the subsequent guilt that remains even after mom has completed treatment.
  • Suggestions to help mom, such as recommending she write to express what she is going through and reading books to get distracted.

Jihane advised writing as a great coping technique for both child and parent, even if for just 10 minutes each day. It doesn’t even have to be about breast cancer, but anything going on in your life and what you may be feeling – especially if you don’t tend to talk much with others about what’s going on.

A common dilemma was the role reversal that often occurs when a parent is sick. The child starts to feel like the parent in this situation as they start taking on more of a caregiving role and added responsibilities. As Jihane further clarified, this role-reversal is referred to as “parentification” (in psychology) and can be very stressful – both emotionally and physically.

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Another main topic of discussion was the effect chemo had on mom’s emotions and the strain that added to their relationship, resulting in arguments or misunderstanding during an already sensitive period for both. “Understanding that it’s the treatment and not her is important” shared one of the chat participants and is vital advice for anyone going through a similar experience. It’s key to stay by her side and realize she’s going through a lot so emotions are bound to surface. And most importantly, you should remember not to take it personally.

While such an experience forces one to become more independent, you also don’t want to push mom away as she still needs to feel a part of your life and that you need her. Ask her for help if you’re trying to cook something for example and keep her involved in your day-to-day life as this will help you both regain a sense of normalcy and balance.

All-in-all, the chat was very beneficial and everyone got something out of it – which was great. We’d like to thank everyone who took part and especially Jihane for all her help in preparing for the chat (and for connecting all the way from London). We’re looking forward to planning the next one soon!

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Can you relate to the above? If you’ve been through a similar experience and have some tips that helped you cope, please share with us in the comments section below.

If you’re interested in signing up for the next session for teens and young adults coping with mom’s cancer, please fill in our online (confidential) registration form and we’ll be in touch as soon as the next session is scheduled. If you’d like to find out more, send us an email to: info@onewigstand.org or call us at +961 79 158 471.

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Let’s WhatsApp: Chatting About Nutrition

On March 4th, we held our first “Let’s WhatsApp” group chat for Breast Cancer patients and survivors. This was the first of an on-going support program we’ll be offering to help connect patients from across Lebanon and provide them an opportunity to benefit from specialists’ advice from the comfort of their own home. S1Nutrition_Feb2015_AR

For our first “Let’s WhatsApp”, clinical nutritionist Diane Nicolas, who has extensive experience working with cancer patients, was the featured specialist who volunteered her time and expertise for the session on Nutrition.

The group chat setting was intimate with five women (the majority of which had never met in person) taking part and asking their questions on topics of interest to each of them while also sharing their own tips amongst each other. Their enthusiasm and curiosity about the subject was evident from the onset!

Trigging the first discussion was the link between nutrition and cancer – and the majority agreed, that yes, it does play a role. One of the patients held a different perspective as despite having a very healthy lifestyle and diet, she still got diagnosed with cancer. So is there or isn’t there a link? Diane shed insight by explaining that although improper nutrition doesn’t necessarily lead to cancer, following the right diet and maintaining your health increases your chances of preventing it. Genetics and the environment are very important factors that also play a role, so it isn’t just nutrition that may affect your diagnosis.

Coffee was another hot topic among the women: How much was too much? What were the benefits and was there harm in adding coffee creamers, like Coffeemate, to ones cup? Another topic of much interest was meats, chickens and fish. Questions ranged from how best to cook it (Well-done? Over-cooked? Tip: Avoid burning it!) to whether eating local mezza specialties like raw meat (kebbe and kasbe naye) were harmful. Even sushi came up! LetsWhatsApp_ChatQuestion1 Topics that always often raise question marks, like the rumored link of soy to cancer, how much chocolate is good for you and even the role of ashta in helping one lost weight came up too and were discussed further. (PS: The answers to all the above are below) LetsWhatsApp_ChatQuestion2 Diane was very helpful and quickly answered all the questions brought up during the chat. She additionally helped break the ice at the start so that no one felt uncomfortable. Jokes, questions and even personal tips were being shared among the participants by the end of the chat – a very positive sign!

For those who missed the chat or were curious about the topics covered, we’ve compiled a short summary for you below of the top nutrition tips shared by Diane Nicolas:

  • Coffeemate is not bad, but it should preferably be replaced with a more nutritious food such as milk (liquid or powdered are both good). Skimmed milk? Even better!
  • Chocolate in moderation is not harmful for the health, but we must be careful not to gain weight because weight gain is closely linked to cancer.
  • Chicken is not harmful if you trust the source as some chicken is injected with hormones so be careful where you get or eat it from (the size of the chicken is a helpful indication)
  • A myth that was challenged? Kachta and avocado don’t help you lose weight. It’s all about reducing calories. One avocado is actually equivalent to 8 spoons of oil so avoid eating too much of it.

 The Dos:

  • Eat Fresh
  • Eat fruits, vegetables and legumes more often.
  • Eat only fresh Frish…
  • Consume meat 2 times per week, try to avoid raw meats
  • Eat preferably chicken breast.
  • Consume more whole grain Lebanese bread (“2am7a kemle”)
  • Limit your coffee intake to 2 cups per day.

The Donts:

  • Don’t eat caned or smoked tuna and salmon.
  • Don’t eat over-cooked meat (ma7rou2).
  • Avoid raw meat (kassbeh and kebbe Nayye)
  • Avoid soybeans as they are genetically modified.
  • If your treatment includes cortisone, do not abuse sugar and deserts.
  • Our Mediterranean diet is very healthy and complete, so don’t search for exotic foods in order to be healthier or to prevent diseases.

“Don’t eat less, but EAT RIGHT; this is the response to all illness and diseases linked to nutrition. Flash news: We are lucky to be Lebanese since our diet is known to be the best among hundred of diets all over the world. We have the healthiest mix and match: 3adas b7amod, taboule, fatouch, ma7aché, sbenikh, mloukhieh, bemye, makhlouta, labne, jebne bayda, kebbe… ” – Diane Nicolas

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“I’d like to thank every person that took part in the group chat and encourage One Wig Stand for this amazing project. We are lucky to have such a support that offers knowledge and care at the same time. Thank you!” – Diane Nicolas

All the feedback we received from those who took part was very encouraging and we’re looking forward to hosting more of these group chats on different topics to benefit patients and survivors in the future. Thank you to all the ladies who took part and to the lovely Diane Nicolas for lending her time and expertise for these sessions!

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Do you have a subject in mind that you’d like us to discuss in the next WhatsApp session? Is there a certain specialist you’d like to recommend who’d be interested in sharing their knowledge with others? Please feel free to suggest a topic or specialist you’d like to chat with us in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to make it happen!

If you’re a breast cancer patient, survivor or caregiver that would be interested in signing up for the next session, please send us an email to: info@onewigstand.org or call us at +961 79 158 471 so we keep you posted.

7 Gift Ideas for a Loved One Fighting Cancer

With the holidays less than a week away, it is easy to freak out if you haven’t finished all your gift shopping. It’s tricky and perhaps a tad stressful when you don’t know where to begin, especially if its for a family member or friend fighting cancer. What can you get that will make her feel better yet at the same time be of benefit during her treatment period?

We’ve spent the past few days online window shopping for some ideas for you – all of which can be found in Lebanon and vary in price to suit any budget:

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1. For Laughs: Add a little laughter with a funny movie or DVD box set of her favorite series. Laughter is the best medicine after all, right? // We recommend: Two and a Half Men DVD Box Set, or something similar to take her mind of what she’s going through.

2. For Passing the Time: Download some of her favorite tunes into an iPod that she can take with her to treatment or while in the waiting room. If she’s more into app games, splurge on an iPad and install a few of them to get her started. // We recommend: iPod Shuffle, or something similar that’s small and easy to carry around in a purse.

3. For Comfort: Help her cozy up in a warm robe this winter season with a soft fleece robe. The best part is it can be thrown over anything she is wearing when she feels cold. // We recommend: The featured robe available at Oysho, or something similar as longer lengths tend to provide more blanket-like warmth.

4. For Cold Feet: Grab a pair of funny socks or fuzzy slippers for her to wear around the house or slip into while getting treatment at the hospital. Select a design she’ll be comfortable wearing when friends or family come over and she doesn’t feel like dressing up. // We recommend: The featured slippers also available at Oysho, or something similar she can easily slip in and out of.

5. For Soft Skin: Makeup can go a long way when you’re not feeling particularly “hot” about yourself, but be sure to avoid anything that contains parabens, which are harmful chemicals used in cosmetics linked to cancer. She may feel an aversion to smells if she’s undergoing chemotherapy so avoid overly-fragant or floral creams. // We recommend: The featured “Joy to the World” gift box at LUSH that contains “Dream Cream” – a hydrating cream recommended by other patients, or something similar that is made organically.

6. For Support: Although she may not openly admit it, she may be in need of support from time to time during her treatment and a reminder that she’s not alone in her battle. Boost her morale with small gifts of support, whether it’s a inspirational book or by connecting her with other patients to let it out. Make a difference on her behalf by donating to a cause close to her heart. // We recommend: The featured “Pink Pulse” bracelet designed exclusively by One Wig Stand, the full proceeds of which is directed to our patient-support programs, or a similar gesture or donation to an NGO of her choice.

7. For Pampering: Who would ever say no to a massage, right? Patients undergo tremendous stress and aches along their journey so give her some TLC in the form of a pampering massage to rejuvenate her. // We recommend: the “Sensitive Body Skin Honey Treatment” at Elixir Spa in Habtoor Hotel, or something similar that is gentle and soothing for her.

Or Get Creative! A lot of the times it pays to be creative and prepare a unique gift (or gift basket) to match her personality. Make her something special, like a scarf or a hand-painted mug with words of support, or do little things for her, like taking her shopping or even baby-sitting her kids for the afternoon.

Truly, the best gift you can give to any patient is your love and time. Try to really be there for her during this time, especially if she’s feeling a bit more sensitive or stressed during the holiday period. And be sure to give her plenty of hugs – 100% free but priceless.

We hope these recommendations help you as you finish your holiday shopping your weekend. We’d love to hear any additional ideas or tips you may have too!

References:

Disclaimer: All of the above suggestions are based on the personal preference of the author and do not reflect any influence or affiliation with any of the brands mentioned to the organization itself.

What to Eat (and Not Eat) During the Holidays

Don’t let your cancer treatment stop you from enjoying the upcoming holiday season and all the tasty foods that come along with it. Food is a big part of our culture and the last thing you want to be worrying about is missing out on quality time with your friends and family during this special time of the year. 449459 True, eating may not be a priority if you’re feeling particularly nauseous, but you do need to stay nourished to fight your cancer. Prepare for the holiday with the following recommendations:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid uncooked, unpeeled foods.
  • Eat small portions to see how you handle the food first. Don’t overdo it.
  • Keep out of the kitchen while food is being prepared. The cooking smell can make you nauseous.
  • Let friends and family know what foods you can tolerate in advance.
  • Keep some plastic forks in your purse to eat with at guests’ houses in case you find yourself with a metallic taste in your mouth.
  • Have a little snack before you leave the house, especially if you’re not sure if there may be appropriate options for you where you are going.
  • Don’t skip meals and instead go for 5-6 smaller meals to avoid making poor eating choices.
  • Go for baked or steamed items
  • Make sure all fruits are washed properly and peeled before eating them.
  • At a buffet lunch or dinner, choose foods from the inside of the table that little hands (and their germs) are less likely to have reached.
  • Place leftover foods immediately in the fridge and discard all leftover foods that have been out for more than two hours at room temperature.
  • Check with your doctor if it is ok to have some alcohol.
  • Swap out sugar in tea for honey instead.

Good Stuff to Munch On: salmon dishes

  • Fatty Fish, like salmon, pollock and yellowtail.
  • Protein-Rich, like lentils, beans and legumes.
  • Cruciferous & Dark Leaf Veggies, like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach and kale.
  • Orange Fruits & Veggies, like carrots, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe.
  • Citrus Fruits, like oranges and lemons.
  • Strawberries and dark chocolate.
  • Brown Rice.
  • Turkey.
  • Quinoa.
  • Berries.
  • Yogurt.
  • Almonds.
  • Ginger.

Ginger-Root Don’t Add to Your Plate:

  • Red Meat, like steak and burgers.
  • Processed or Cured Meats, like bacon, ham, hot dogs and deli meats.
  • Sauces, like cream, gravy or mayonnaise base.
  • Fried or fatty foods.
  • Sweets and sugar.
  • Carbonated beverages.
  • Raw eggs.
  • Spicy foods.
  • Caffeine.

With a little extra care and attention to what goes in your plate, you should be absolutely fine and enjoy your meals during this festive season. If ever in doubt, please check with your doctor. Happy holidays from One Wig Stand! References:

Would you add any other tips to this list? Please share with us in the comments section to include here! 

Little BIG Things You Can Do This October

As of October 1st, we’ve introduced a new daily post series of awareness tips that we’ll be sharing via our facebook page for the entire month. They’re all small things that won’t require much time or effort but will help you learn in small doses more about breast health, early detection signs and other activities you can do to show your support for the cause.

Try to put them to practice whenever possible this month:

Thanks to the help of our team of wonderful volunteers, we’ll also be sharing the daily posts in Arabic so more women from the region can benefit from them too:

Arabic Translation: Samira El-Ghoul

Arabic Translation: Nesrine Chami

Arabic Translation: Soha Menassa

Be sure to check our page daily this month and share the ones you find particularly valuable with others to spread the awareness. If you have any recommendations for other “Little Big Things” someone can do during October, let us know by email to info@onewigstand.org.