In 2015 both of us have been diagnosed with different types of cancer. Ever since we were diagnosed with cancer until the end of our treatment we both were more than convinced our body could fight this and we eventually would win the battle. We were always pretty fanatic with sports and always had a focus on eating healthy. We immediately started to look for information on how to keep our body in the best shape during the chemo and radiation attack. During the first appointments we had at the hospital with a nurse specialized in cancer treatment, we received a lot of information on the treatment itself and its possible side effects. However, there was no information added on (healthy) food, which products to eat best during treatment or information on the possibility to continue exercising.
At home our search started at the internet and we looked up questions like: Is it healthy to sport during treatment? What is the best food to eat? Should we be adding supplements to our daily meals? Who can help to keep my body in the best shape?
Through the dietician working at the general practitioners office Carry got a first list of products, which could affect the treatment and also some products to prevent loosing too much weight. We did not know if we had to expect a weight loss, because that is what we all think chemo does to your bodies. What we forget is that you get a lot of medicines to fight the treatment side effects, which have again their own side effects, such as potentially gaining weight (take for example prednisone, one tends to store a lot of body liquids that could cause weight increase).
The information from the GPs dietician was not sufficient, therefore we asked for the advice of a dietician at the hospital. During the first appointment we asked all kinds of different questions, but we were shocked by the answers. Before we were ill, we ate very healthy, fresh/fair products, now we got the advice of the hospital dietician to buy ready meals in case we would did not feel well enough to cook. Or in case you would lose weight to eat artificially manufactured nutrition containing ingredients to increase weight.
Currently there are all kinds of ‘food fanatics’ and ‘health hypes’. We are convinced that healthy food should not be a trend. We don’t want to focus on trends or hypes; our focus lies at informing people about healthy food and “back to basic”. We want to reach the target group of cancer patients, to help them in finding good food to fight the battle of their life. As we experienced ourselves, medical specialists at the hospital don’t have enough time to guide a patient in the best way and many dieticians follow the ‘old’ rules and are promoting the medical food of the pharmaceutics industry.
We want to start a foundation, which will have a wide network of researchers, specialized food coaches, sport coaches and doctors to gather information and advice, on how to compose healthy menu’s for cancer patients and provide information on healthy ways of exercising during your illness. Not only in general, but also customized, for each individual. Our plan is to set up an overview listing healthy products to eat during your treatment, but also listing products, that are particularly unhealthy.
Next to that we want build up a network to reach out to people who cannot cook or are not able to exercise (or just walk) on their own. Look around to your own environment. If you were aware that there is a single man/woman, who lives a couple of streets away, which is not able to cook because he/she is too ill, would you not cook (needless to say that this needs to be in line with the advice of the foundation) for that person? This is called community care.Focusing on the hospital food will be the second target (long-term). Once we start informing patients and start working with researchers, food coaches, sport coaches and doctors, we will eventually be able to slowly change the hospital food.
Figuring out the healthiest ways to fight your battle by staying in direct contact with your target group is part of specialized care, which would be the future in health care. Not general, but focus on single patients with their own problems/questions and side effects.
(Customized) advice serving cancer patients during treatment (chemo, radiation,…) to ensure optimal nutrition and exercise.
- focusing on natural instead of artificially produced ingredients
- emphasizing the importance of regular and moderately intensive exercise.
Short-term: online (info and community)
Long-term: face to face (workshops on two main subjects)
- develop and maintain a blog/website/platform with menu proposals containing healthy ingredients, working together with food coaches and researchers on this. It will be an interactive platform, on which people can also share their own experiences etc.,
- contact points in the Netherlands on sports coaches to contact for guidance,
- set up sports projects and readings about healthy food and sports for cancer patients,
- create communities for healthy cooking, places where people can buy healthy food in case there are not able to cook themselves when they are very ill, or don’t have a partner.
Type of community involved
Community consists of cancer patients (no age restrictions or type of cancer)
Solution proposed; effect on users life?
Ensure optimal knowledge sharing to enable patients to continue the health-minded lifestyle of before their illness.
How is it open?
It is accessible to anybody online (could be perceived as restricting because the community is language specific and starting with the Netherlands!)
How does it ‘care’?
This platform contributes to care by offering a space where patients can share their knowledge and learn from each other concerning the subjects “healthy nutrition” and “exercise”. Also it allows easy access to expert knowledge. The platform is not supposed to replace or complement any scientific research sources. It is solely focusing on the easy access of exactly this information as well as the information shared amongst experts by experience.