Taking Nutrition Seriously in the face of Illness

Introduction

Nutrition plays an important role in our overall well being and is many times overlooked when a person is feeling unwell or is facing illness.I know that I personally found a huge difference in my level of energy and my overall health when I changed my eating habits and learned to be in tuned with my body when feeding it. Thank God being healthy and well I can only imagine what the benefits of proper nutrition can be for someone suffering from a life altering illness such as cancer.

Jillian Mckee

Which is why I was so pleased to receive an email from Jillian Mckee one day out of the blue. Jillian, a Complementary Medicine Advocate, blogger, and outreach coordinator at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009 spends most of her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine in  conjunction with traditional cancer treatment. Jillian really touched me deeply with her openness and generous nature so when she asked me to guest author a post on my blog, I of course said yes!

She wrote:

I stumbled across your blog…I am wondering if you allow guest posts because I recently have been researching and writing about how beneficial eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle is for someone going through the battle of cancer… This is an important message to get out there….Thank you for all you do in making a difference.

I was so happy to see that my personal story was reaching out to people and giving them strength. Once we had worked out how we would go about this, I eagerly awaited Jillian’s response until yesterday when I saw her name in bold my inbox:

…The article attached, which I recently completed, is about the benefits of eating healthy during and after a diagnosis of any kind of cancer. Each different cancer has its limitations, but if one can keep a healthy body, they can have a better chance to overcome this awful disease.

Jillian, your work is inspiring and I am honored to have your post here on my blog.

Nutrition Plays an Important Role in Cancer Treatment

By Jillian Mckee

Being diagnosed with cancer is probably one of the most difficult moments in a person’s life. Unfortunately, millions of people hear this horrible news each year. Thankfully, there are successful ways to improve your quality of life besides simply going for regular treatments or surgeries for mesothelioma cancer or any other types of cancer. While a healthy diet is not a cure for your cancer, it can definitely help your body heal faster and gain more energy to get you through those difficult treatment sessions. How can a healthy and nutritious diet can aid you in the healing process and how does one incorporate this into his/her own life?

Food can successfully act as a medicine, a healer of sorts, when dealing with chronic illnesses.  As stated before, a healthy diet will not cure your cancer, but it does have a number of benefits that your body will enjoy.  The first benefit of eating a healthier diet is the amount of energy you can gain.  Fresh fruits and vegetables all have a variety of vitamins within them.  When eaten, especially during treatment, these vitamins can replenish energy that you may otherwise be lacking.  You will find that it is a little easier to get through your day when you have enough energy to make it through.

Another benefit of having a healthier diet is your body’s increased ability to heal itself.  During cancer treatment, you may find that you are tired and in pain all of the time.  Your body needs to heal itself between treatments so that you can feel better and face the net treatment.  With a poor diet, you are not introducing any of those much needed vitamins into the body, which is definitely not good when it comes to regular living, let alone healing.  A healthy diet will help you to heal faster so that you can feel good between treatments and get on with your life instead of focusing solely on your cancer.

For those who are seeking treatment for mesothelioma or another form of cancer, it is imperative that you speak with your doctor before doing anything to your diet.  Your doctor may have already put you on a very strict diet that is high in calories.  Before making any changes, you need to speak to your doctor and let them know what you want from your daily nutrition.  Your doctor will tell you whether or not to make these changes in your life.

Living with cancer can be incredibly difficult, but you can improve your well-being with the right diet.  Living on junk and processed foods does nothing for your confidence, energy, and health. You need a healthy diet in order for the body to heal itself and be provided with sufficient vitamins each day. Only your doctor will be able to tell you whether a diet change is within your best interest or not.  If you do go through with a change, you will begin reaping the benefits within a few short days.

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Salsa dancing in Jerusalem

Before I talk about Salsa dancing, let me just thank Dudu Almodi for letting me use his photographs for this post. He is very generous with his art.

Ok now back to me and Salsa….this is me:

Me and Dudu Nahari a Salsa instructor

I happened to discover Salsa by chance and it was at the Candela Salsa club that I started to dance regularly. I wont tell the story here because it’s too long.

Eti Amzaleg a sexy & talented Salsa instructor

Eti Amzaleg a sexy and talented Salsa instructor

Suffice it to say that over the last 4 months I have persevered with level 1, 2 and 3.  This week my instructor, Eti Amzaleg, who is a patient, talented and amazing person all around (as are all the instructors in the Candela club) basically said to me, “Devora motek (you always have to say motek or mami to be taken seriously), the time has come for you to move on to the Masters level!” Woo hoo!

Of course, my usual hesitation when moving up a level is that I will be the worst in that level as opposed to being the best at the current one and then it will annoy people who have to dance with me. It’s always tough to have to dance with someone who is too slow for you….even if people pretend otherwise. It’s a fact. I console myself with the fact that dancing with someone a bit below your level is nothing compared to having to dance with someone who just applied half a bottle of Brut cologne or who hasn’t used any personal hygiene products at all that week, so it cant be that bad!

One of the experienced dancers, Elinor, told me that she doesn’t dance with someone if she doesn’t feel like it and yet she always looks like she is having a good time. She just says no! She’s my Salsa hero! The amazing thing about so many experienced dancers is that they enter the club looking like regular people out on the town, and then when they get on the dance floor it is just a miracle to behold.

Eddy is always a great dance partner

I myself find that there are some dancers who I love to dance with regularly. For example, this bachurchik Eddy, a sweet  guy who is a great dancer and is never pushy but always quick on his feet. Whenever I would make a mistake while we are dancing I would see him make a sort of discreet face sort of like “whoops” in face language. I would call him on it by saying, “Eddy, you are doing it again!” and he would laugh. Some of the instructors make me laugh over and over again. For example, Moran the DJ and a master dancer always yells at me when I start leading, “Where do you think you are going Devora??? In Salsa the man leads, leave your life at the door!”. Tomer would tell me that he is losing circulation in his fingers from me holding on so tight, hee hee. (I am sure there is a lesson in here somewhere if I just look hard enough.) Dudu and Yonat are able to have fun at all times.

Moran DJ/instructor and Yonat Instructor

Moran and Yonat twisted up an smiling

The Salsa club offers levels from beginner, never danced before in my life level classes, to masters “I really didn’t know our bodies were made for that position” classes. Thursday and Saturday nights start off with line dancing at 9:15 and then at 9:45 they divide up into groups for your lesson. Afterwards is some practice time and then the floor opens up for the rest of the night. Married couples come, singles, people of all ages and even couples who have met at salsa and are married now not to mention my favorite: the pregnant women.

Things I usually worry about are non issues like theft since there are 14 closed circuit cameras in the club, the bathrooms are actually clean, the wood floors are nice overall, and there is always fans and fresh air with no smoking allowed inside the club. There is a bar but since I am almost always driving I stick to my diet coke and water.

I think there are some events coming up soon as well like the Salsa winter ball mid January and and at the beginning of February there will be a Salsa event at the Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem, can’t wait!

Eti and Dudu instructors

Yonat and Tomer Salsa instructors

Being Considerate Only Takes A Second

A divorced male friend of mine mentioned to me that another male divorcee explained
to him that as a single man he is “shaveh” of great value and that he should
keep this in mind when looking to date. He needs to be aware that he is a greater
commodity than the women he is dating. I was appalled by this blatant disrespect that
one person could have towards another. I quickly interjected that there is no
one person who is more valuable than another. If he wants to assess that a
match is not suitable for him then that is legitimate but he must always have
respect for another individual and behave appropriately.

Of course, while I am writing this I realize that maybe someone out there is thinking
poorly about me or my behavior and wondering how I have the gall to write about
this topic in a critical manner. I guess from recent experience, both in my
personal and professional life, I have come to the conclusion that it really
only takes a moment to show the proper courtesy and respect towards another
human being so why don’t we?

Just as an example of professional disrespect: Someone mentioned to me how they spent time
travelling and attending a job interview and couldn’t understand why the
interviewing side didn’t take the time to show them the courtesy of an email letting them know either way.

As an example of personal disrespect: A close friend of mine was in touch with another person for dating
purposes and couldn’t understand why all of a sudden there was silence on the other end. One side, it
seems, decided that it was not suitable for them but didn’t even do as much as send
an email or SMS to inform the other side. Ignoring is not an acceptable form of
rejection. It exists, but it is cowardly and rude at best.

Israelis have a tendency to look down on manners and polite behavior. It is a high tension
life here in Israel with the political and social situation always contributing
to a life of constant rushing around, yelling and even pushing. Israelis are good
at heart and if you trip and fall a million people will rush over to look after
you, and if your kid wanders off in the mall he/she will have ten mothers taking
care of him in a second, but respect for one another goes far beyond our instinctive
responsive behavior, it is introspective, well thought out and calculated.

And don’t try to slap me with, “well, would you rather someone act politely on the surface and then
ignore you and be distant afterwards???” I don’t understand why that is a
legitimate argument. Don’t people  already know that two wrongs don’t make a
right?? Listen, I love to live in Israel but can’t we all just try to show each other the
respect that we as humans should for one another? Be conscious of our actions and I
am sure that with the changes we nurture within ourselves we will also be able
to influence others in kind.

Gone with the wind friendships

Dog and cat friends

Friends through it all

When getting divorced, especially in a family oriented community, I have found that many of the people who I thought were friends and couples who I enjoyed many wonderful times with became distant memories. If I may be so bold as to create a comparison: Life is like an outfit; sometimes it flatters you and sometimes it fits, it sometimes needs changing, and sometimes it just makes you fat. Life has accessories too such as friends, homes, cars and a partner. When you change your life “outfit” many tmes your “accessories” need adjusting too. (Please don’t take this literally…it is purely for the sake of literary license).

In some ways the separation comes with a twinge of remorse: the couple who always served the best food, had the greatest views, the most engaging conversations and the best toys for the kids to play with. Other times it comes with an overwhelming feeling of relief. You no longer have to put up with that annoying wife of your husband’s friend who you never have anything to say to or made annoying jokes at someone’s expense.

Let’s just look at our work friends for a minute, our colleagues. When you switch jobs and forlornly say goodbye, you know that these people who you spent every day with for the past few years will most likely drop off the end of your life, never be seen again. It doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on them or on you for that matter even if you both keep saying, “Let’s keep in touch, ok”? For obvious reasons, in people’s fast paced lifestyles proximity does make for an easier friendship and since you never had to make an effort to see each other before what makes you think you would start now?

Are there any specific traits or behaviors that lead to long term friendships?

It reminds me of a book I once read about ordinary everyday people who became heroes due to a heroic act that they did spontaneously. They couldn’t explain what motivated them to act on the spur of the moment. There really was no defining trait for heroic behaviour.  All that they could be sure of was that they were presented with a situation where they just knew that they had to act. What the author wrote in the forward to this book was that we are always so fascinated with what motivates the serial killer or someone who stands on a tower and shoots tens of people or who kidnaps someone and mutilates them and yet we are never fascinated by the reverse scenario: What motivates an ordinary person to act altruistically or heroically?

During my divorce proceedings many of the couples whom I thought to be close seem to have just become part of the unwritten divorce settlement. The reverse is true as well. I have been pleasantly surprised to find myself spending time with people and couples who I never would have in my previous coupled life. I enjoy their company and that’s all there is too it. They are kind and giving and we love to laugh together.

If you are looking for answers as to which friends will move to the other side and which will just fall through the cracks never to be seen or heard from again, I don’t have any. But let me just say that when you are single for the second time around you learn very quickly who your real friends are. You are wearing a new outfit and only you and you alone will decide which accessories look best on you.

And just remember darling: You look fabulous!

A Guest Above The Rest

What type of guest are you?

I grew up in a home where I don’t remember EVER eating a meal without having someone extra at our table.  My parents are great hosts and I know that being a good host/hostess is a challenge. I have seen countless articles and books dealing with the complexities of this role.  Who doesn’t already know this since we are bombarded with Martha Stewart lessons in hors d’oeuvres, napkin folding tips, table settings and beautiful flower arrangements? Hyper-hosting has turned the simple act of having parties and getting together with friends into three course events that usually include a theme and a party planner.

Napkins and flower arrangeements

Hyper-hosting

The other side to this hosting equation receives much less publicity, the forgotten link that can make or break your role as a host:

The guest.

You want your hostess with the mostess to see you as a guestess with the bestess? Here’s my breakdown of the good and bad guests. Plain and simple:

The Bad Guest:

  • The Shmoozer– It is totally irrelevant whether anyone is listening or not. They are totally oblivious as to whether people are interested in what they have to say and they can stay for countless hours after all others have left to continue their “fascinating “ conversation with whoever is not yet nodding off to sleep.
  • The Cruiser– this is the guest who just stopped by long enough to eat the last danish, make a promise about that they will be back again real soon, to use the bathroom and to make a grand exit.
  • The Loser– they never seem to have plans and for a good reason. Whether it’s their lack of social etiquette or their inability to make eye contact. They are the ones who bring their leftover bread slices and pineapple juice to “share” so that it doesn’t go bad and they generally aren’t able to connect with anyone inparticular despite repeated attempts on everyone’s part to make conversation.
  • The User– These are guests of convenience. Their convenience, not yours. Once they don’t need you anymore you will never hear from them again.
  • The Abuser- They make sure to let you know in advance that they only eat japanese vegetarian food, that the music is too loud, the soup too salty, and they apologize profusely while asking you to wrap up the leftovers for them to take home. 
  • The Muser- They don’t comment, compliment or join in the conversation and they tend to spend most of their time staring into space. You wonder if they are philosophers and if there is MORE to them than meets the eye when really there is LESS…much, much less. You wonder if your meal will be the contributing factor to their suicide attempt when, miraculously, on their way out they somehow manage to mumble: “Thanks, I had a great time.”

The Good Guest:

Gratitude goes a long way…
  • Give- Just bring something, damn it, even when your host insists otherwise.
  • Gauge- Don’t be oblivious to everyone around you. Yes, Spanish Inquisition Era manuscripts may be fascinating to YOU but if everyone else is staring into space then zip-it!
  • Good Nights- Overnight guests should not overuse any one household item without confirming that it is ok with their hosts first. Don’t take overly long showers, don’t leave a mess in the bathroom, don’t leave wet towels on the floor and make sure to keep your room neat when you are going out.
  • Grace- you walk into a room and see people talking, recognize when it’s a conversation that requires privacy and don’t get involved.
  • Gratitude- Make sure to thank your host at different moments during your stay as a guest. It’s all about gratitude. Thank them for thinking of you when you arrive. Thank them again when you leave and make sure to compliment. Compliment their home, their cooking, their efforts and their kindness. And please try to sound sincere.
  • Gregarious- Smile and the world smiles with you. Meal time is not the time to burden everyone with your hardships and woes unless you are very close with your hosts. Smile, shmooze and enjoy.
  • Guess- Ask questions, show interest in others around you.
  • Giddy-Up! HAVE FUN! Nothing more fun than a guest who knows how to enjoy themselves.

Where the sidewalk ends

Where the sidewalk ends

Picture of where the sidewalk ends

Our community has a long and dangerous stretch of road that the kids need to walk on to get to school. After years of letter writing and pleading, our regional government decided to build the sidewalk. Much to our disappointment, they left a huge gap in the sidewalk so that the kids still have to walk on the road next to the cars and trucks driving by. This situation reminded me of one of my favorite poems by Shel Silverstein. The poem is imagination, our sidewalk is real. Does art imitate life? Or vice versa?

A poem by Shel Silverstein
Words in brackets written by Devora Mason

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins, (Zeit Shemen)
And there the grass grows soft and white, (not really)
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight (or the pigeons who poop on our heads)
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black (cheftzibah construction site?)
And the dark street winds and bends. (Pitum Haktoret)
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow (definitely our new traffic circle)
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow (much to the chagrin of meuchedet)
And watch where the chalk white arrows go (probably to nowhere)
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes, we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk white arrows go,
For the children they mark, and the children they know (crossing guards?)
The place where the sidewalk ends.

):

Enjoying Food

I was thinking about all of the things I would eat if I didn’t care about what tomorrow brings.

I always think back to one of my favorite movies called “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray. In that movie he plays a cynical  egocentric news reporter who continuously wakes up on the same day, groundhog day, in a little town called Punxsutawney. Repeatedly he goes through that same day until he realizes that no matter what he does or says or who he meets the next day will be a blank to everyone except him. He goes through all different levels of personal change and development.

One scene I love is right after he realizes that no matter what he does he will be the same the next day he decides to live for today! He sits in the cafe and with a cigarette dangling from his lips. While drinking coffee straight out of the coffee pot he stuffs an entire éclair into his mouth and leaves a huge glob of cream on his cheeks. Gluttony at it’s best!

In the meanwhile, I think I will go have another rice cake. Enjoy!

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day Poster

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_5GpBgsang&feature=related

(The scene is at 4:30 of this clip)