FOCUS ON CANCER: Fighting disease by eating right


We all know eating well and exercising is good for us, but what you eat when you're battling cancer can make a big difference.

Health experts say food can help you fight the disease and help prevent it from returning.

Patricia Ruane is a 7-year breast cancer survivor, now 30 pounds lighter and still getting the all-clear.

What she didn't know before cancer was how food could prevent it or help fight it.

"I think you have to take charge, not just let something happen," said Ruane. I look at food differently than I did before."

"There have been a lot of studies showing that a plant-based diet is a great way to try to reduce your risk of cancer and cancer recurrence," said Heather Borsa, a certified specialist in oncology nutrition.

Her passion is teaching what a lot of people may not know about food. She takes survivors to the South Bend farmer's market.

"I help them pick out fruits and vegetables that are in season," Borsa described. "I tell them the nutritional benefits of them, how they can cook them, how they can prepare them, how to store them."

Also talk about their antioxidant and phytochemicals that are good anti-cancer fighting properties, and Borsa has some favorite weapons, especially for patients battle nausea.

"Ginger is one that I use a lot," she said. "I recommend patients cook with ginger or try ginger tea or ginger ales or ginger drops."

Maybe it's proof the old advice - eating well and exercising more - really is important.

"Your body needs extra fuel," Borsa added. "It needs that energy to heal and recover."

Ruane noted, "It gives you a little control because with cancer, you have no control."

Another problem cancer patients face is that treatments and medications can sometimes make foods taste different. So, finding and trying new foods can keep patients eating, which can also help relieve nausea.