March is Nutrition month !

From Brian Goodman

When I was asked to write about Hope & Cope’s Nutrition activities I thought back to my time in treatment and how nutrition affected my progress.

Over fifteen years ago, the nutrition landscape was different than today. If there were any services offered in the hospital, they passed me by without notice. I suffered from some of the same side effects of treatment as so many do, Nausea, loss of appetite, and fatigue. For me, this meant days of eating only hard boiled eggs and Niagara peaches. The side effects did not last long and I was able to start eating properly soon enough, but I didn’t eat another peach for over ten years.

Meet Lindsay Fazekas

While speaking to Lindsay Fazekas, a Dietician, earlier this week, I learned that things have changed. “There has been a large amount of research on how nutrition can positively affect your treatment, helping you mitigate side effects of treatment, help prevent recurrences, and even prevent cancer in the first place.” When Lindsay told me that there are now eight Oncology Dietitians at the Montreal hospital she works at and that in Montreal every Oncology patient has a dietician assigned to them as part of their cancer care team I was amazed. Lindsay will be leading a webinar with a presentation on how an Oncology Dietitian can help you or someone you are caring for, with a Q&A period at the end. The webinar is Monday, March 25, 2024 from 13.30 to 15.00 and open to cancer survivors and caregivers (registration link).

Healthy cooking workshops

Hope & Cope offers two weekly activities to round out the services offered in the hospital setting. Andrée Vandal, Marianne Pham, and Susan Raymer alternatively facilitate a bilingual healthy cooking workshop at the Wellness Centre Monday’s at 10:30 (call registration desk at 514-340-3616 to register). Ros Shannan leads an English online healthy cooking workshop Wednesdays at 11:00 (resuming in May 2024, zoom registration link) . Both workshops focus on dishes that are quick, simple, and use easy to find ingredients. Soups, salads, pastas, and desserts. Take a look at the calendar on Hope & Cope’s website (link) for more information.

Healthy cooking workshop in person

I actually met Andrée a couple of weeks ago while I was at the Wellness Centre. There were some wonderful smells drifting down the stairs from the second floor. I followed my nose up the stairs and there was the workshop just finishing up a delicious looking pasta dish in front of the participants. When I spoke to Andrée before writing this, I reminded her of our 1st meeting, to which she politely laughed and offered her excuses if she did not remember me specifically. Apparently quite a few people wander into the kitchen nose first while she is there.

Healthy cooking workshop online

Ros has been leading her workshop for almost 15 years, weekly in person for the first 12 years, transitioned online since the Pandemic. The online workshop is a very friendly and social group, with participants sharing their treatment experiences and forming friendships with other participants that evolve past the confines of the Zoom session. For people who are not comfortable going out to share a meal with friends, to be able to connect over food like this definitely fills a void.

Speaking to and writing about such wonderful volunteers brought back more memories. Before my diagnosis I did not cook at all, not really. While recovering, I discovered the Food Network and it awoke something in me. I have developed a passion for preparing food and feeding others. My kitchen and dining room were designed as an open concept that allows everyone to connect and share around food. Sharing delicious food with friends has become one of life’s greatest pleasures and it all started with nothing but eggs and peaches.

I am honored to have the privilege of sharing Hope & Cope’s Nutrition activities. It feels like I am sharing a meal with everyone who reads this. I hope you attend some if not all of the activities and that they fill you up, literally and figuratively.

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