A Remedy for Chemo Mouth

One problem for many cancer patients undergoing treatment is that chemotherapy can change the taste of food. Patients often complain that food loses its flavor or worse–tastes like metal. The condition, known variably as chemo mouth or metal mouth, causes many patients to lose their appetite at a time when they need it the most.

cancer-fighting-kitchenEnter Rebecca Katz, author of The Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery. Katz is a chef, speaker, and author who has worked with patients, physicians, and nurses to develop a flavorful and healthy dietary regimen aimed at keeping cancer patients at their best during treatment. One of her secrets to making food taste good for cancer patients is to use unfamiliar flavors and spices as well as unique combinations of ingredients, such as in this recipe for Poached Coconut Ginger Salmon.

Last week, Katz was featured in this informative segment on NPR. This week, she’ll be here at SCCA at the Shine store tomorrow, April 17, between 5 and 6:30 p.m. to speak and sign books. If you’re in the neighborhood tomorrow, stop by for a visit!

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    How to Talk to Your Doctor

    Seeing and talking with a new doctor for the first time–especially after a cancer diagnosis–can be a little intimidating. In addition to being a medical oncologist who specializes in treating gastrointestinal cancers, Dr. Tony Back is an expert in improving communication between physicians and their patients. Dr. Back believes cancer patients need doctors who understand what they’re going through and are not afraid to talk about it, so he acts as a mentor for many new physicians on how best to communicate with their patients.

    In the video below, Dr. Back offers three tips for patients on how to improve the conversations they have with their doctor: Find someone—a friend or a spouse—to go with you; don’t be shy about putting forward your agenda at the beginning of the visit; and don’t be afraid to interrupt your doctor. He also offers advice on how to prepare for your appointment as well as questions to ask when your doctor starts talking over your head.

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      16,808 Hours of Service

      It’s National Volunteer Week, and we at SCCA would be remiss not to extend a heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers who provide such tremendous support to the SCCA community. Last year our volunteers contributed 16,808 hours of service, performing a variety of tasks: from picking up patients and their families at the airport, to working at our gift shop Rain or Shine, to providing massages, haircuts, wig fittings, and support for the more than 6,000 patients who came through the clinic in 2013. Some highlights:

      • Ginger-BeuglessWe averaged 214 active volunteers last year—an increase of 29 from the previous year. Of these volunteers, 54 were male and 160 were female.
      • 28% of our volunteers served in multiple roles.
      • The average age of our volunteers was 54.
      • 28% of our volunteers were 65 years old or older, and 15% were 22-years old or younger.

      Wondering about what volunteers do here at SCCA? Check out the stories we’ve posted about Ginger Beugless (transportation volunteer), Miggie Olsson (guest services), John Croffut (Rain or Shine), Shirley and Dean Hobson (guest services), and Nicole Smith (Shine).

      Becoming a volunteer is easy. If you or someone you know might be interested in helping out at SCCA, please check out the “Become a Volunteer” section of the SCCA website. Applications for the next round of orientation/training sessions are due on Monday, April 28, 2014.  For more information, contact volunteer coordinator Susan Greenwood at (206) 288-1072 or by email at sgreenwo@seattlecca.org.

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        Volunteer Spotlight: Nicole Smith

        nicole-smithNicole Smith started volunteering for SCCA in 2010 and has volunteered at the Shine store for the last 2½ years. Last year, Nicole and 17 other Shine volunteers contributed over 1,000 hours of service. Shine is located on the ground floor of the SCCA House and offers a variety of cancer specialty merchandise, including compression garments, skin care products, wigs, and hats. These products and the atmosphere at Shine provide a unique and meaningful shopping experience, something that’s often reflected in the interactions that volunteers see when helping customers.

        Nicole remembers one patient who came to try on some hats and fell in love with one. The patient explained that her cancer treatment was causing her to not only lose her hair, but her spirit as well–unfortunately, the cost of her treatment made it difficult to afford the hat. Another customer, overhearing the conversation, purchased the hat for her. “Once the patient realized that she would in fact be able to take the hat home, it took on a whole new meaning,” Nicole said. “It now represented the compassion and care that exists all around even when you don’t realize it. We saw her a few weeks later and she was still sporting her hat along with the biggest smile you have ever seen.”

        Shine is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The store serves both SCCA patients and the public. Shine is continually recruiting volunteers for weekday shifts—experience in retail operations is a plus, but not required.

        For more information about working as a Shine volunteer, contact Susan at sgreenwo@seattlecca.org.

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          Walk for Bladder Cancer on May 3

          bladder-cancer-walkThe region’s first Walk for Bladder Cancer will take place in Bellevue on Saturday, May 3. SCCA’s Dr. Jonathan Wright and the UW/SCCA Urologic Oncology group are helping organize the event. The walk will take place in Bellevue Downtown Park at 10 a.m. on May 3, and participants can choose from a half-mile or one-mile course.

          Bladder cancer is the sixth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and an estimated 73,000 people  will be diagnosed with bladder cancer this year. The SCCA Team members participating in the Walk for Bladder Cancer hope to help change the lives of the 500,000 people living with this disease.

          Proceeds from the Walk for Bladder Cancer will go to the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN), a nonprofit organization devoted to advancing bladder cancer research and supporting those impacted by the disease. To participate in the Walk for Bladder Cancer, join the SCCA Team. Online registration closes April 23, and registration by mail must be sent by April 18.

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