When a good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, a group of women jumped into action to schedule regular dinners for her family. I have seen this happen over and over again when a family member, someone at my church, or a family at my children’s school received the life-changing diagnosis of cancer. Friends and family reach out to ease the family’s burden by delivering meals right to their door.
Why do people respond this way? When a friend or family member is hurting, people want to DO something. Making and delivering meals is a direct, tangible way to provide support.
Nutritious meals help patients withstand treatments like chemotherapy and aid in the healing process. Susan G. Komen recommends that people undergoing treatment for breast cancer eat a diet containing a variety of proteins, vegetables, fruit, and grains. The Cleveland Clinic’s tips for those undergoing cancer treatment include getting enough calories and getting the most nutrients per calorie. The American Cancer Society’s guidelines for nutrition during cancer treatment focuses on promoting healthful individual choices. These guidelines are challenging for some cancer patients to follow on their own. Therefore, these organizations also encourage cancer patients to connect with a registered dietitian to provide support and individually tailored food plans to help with side effects such as nausea and lack of appetite.
Here at Moveable Feast, we serve people who rely on us to ease their burden and provide nutritious food as they receive treatment for breast and other types of cancers. They may not have the financial resources, or a network of family and friends who can provide sustainable nutritional support that leads to better health outcomes during cancer treatment. They also may not be able to obtain guidance and coaching from a registered dietitian.
For the people we serve, Moveable Feast becomes the network needed to help a person and family through one of the most difficult times in their lives. Moveable Feast delivers food right to the patient’s door and connects them with a registered dietitian who works with each patient to develop nutritional goals during and after treatment.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Part of awareness is knowing that some people, particularly people of color, do not have access to adequate healthcare and supportive services that they need after being diagnosed with cancer. Public hospitals, community clinics and health centers, and local providers that serve economically disadvantaged communities provide a health care safety net for uninsured people. However, safety net providers have limited resources and capacity, and not all uninsured people have access to one of these providers. For most people, there’s a considerable financial burden associated with a cancer diagnosis.
Cancer is scary and even more so when someone is also dealing with food insecurity. Parents or grandparents will feed their children or grandchildren before themselves even if they have cancer. Lack of food forces some cancer patients to forgo treatment or medicine to feed themselves and their families. The American Cancer Society has found that there is a high prevalence of food insecurity among cancer patients.
When a friend or family member is sick, we all want to DO something to help make things better. Moveable Feast is doing something very important for people with cancer in Maryland – providing healthy, home-delivered meals with individualized nutrition counseling, at no cost, to improve their health and quality of life.
When my friend completed her treatments for breast cancer and then received the all-clear from her doctors, the group that supported her was there to celebrate along with her. The compassionate community at Moveable Feast is a part of every celebration for a cancer survivor who needs us to be in their network of support.
Sue Elias is the Executive Director of Moveable Feast
To help support our clients living with breast cancer, or to learn more about our services, please visit www.mfeast.org.