Nutrition is important for everyone, especially those who are currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer. A healthy diet that consists of fruit, vegetables, and regular protein will help to provide the amount of nutrients breast cancer patients need to keep up their strength and energy during treatment. But it's not always easy for those patients to shop and cook for themselves. Meal Trains for breast cancer patients aims to facilitate mealtime for families by providing a free, online shared calendar that simplifies the process of giving and receiving meals to households going through a difficult time throughout the U.S.
"I felt relieved with the first meals that I received," Michelle Davis, a breast cancer patient and meal Trains user from Hamilton, Ohio told Medical Daily.
Davis learned about meal Trains through the help of one of her dance students. The Ohio resident is the director of a community ballet company who was asked by a parent if she would be interested in setting up a meal Train for her family while she underwent chemotherapy. She knew undergoing treatment would take a significant toll on her and likely cause her to have to give up some of her normal “mom” duties to those who were willing and wanting to support her through this time.
"Knowing that the meal preparation and delivery was all organized took a burden off of my husband and I during a time already heavily burdened," said Davis.
Meal Trains has historically provided support for meal services of all kinds. According to their website, "mealTrain.com is a free solution that simplifies the organization of giving and receiving meals. By allowing the giving party to take into account the recipient’s preferred meal times, food preferences, and available days, the site helps ensure that the recipient gets the meals they enjoy on the days that are most helpful." Eisai Inc., along with collaborators CancerCare and Cancer Support Community launched a special Magnolia-sponsored meal Trains during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month as a way to provide an opportunity to focus on the day-to-day issues facing families coping with a breast cancer diagnosis. Magnolia is Eisai's Women's Oncology Program.
“We aim to provide an infrastructure for communities to deliver this much needed support to households coping with the stress of a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment,” said Christine Verini, Vice President, Corporate Communications and Advocacy, Eisai Inc. to Medical Daily.
The program allows family and friends to schedule and organize the delivery of home-cooked meals to those affected by breast cancer, providing needed support without being asked.
Kathy Nugent, director of social services at CancerCare told Medical Daily, "People living with breast cancer may find it difficulty or don't want to ask for help when undergoing cancer treatments. Also, many want help but don’t know how to access it.”
The shared online calendar can be accessed by a breast cancer patient who is undergoing treatment, their caregivers, friends, or family by visiting the website. The online user will have to enter the code "Magnolia C" to view the breast cancer-specific page. This is followed by a simple process that includes identifying dates when support will be needed, as well as food likes, dislikes and allergies. An e-mail is then sent to friends and neighbors inviting them to sign-up to prepare and deliver a meal.
Davis has structured her online shared calendar based on her specific needs. She only gets meals every other week during the weeks she receives treatment. “It’s all automated, I don’t have to constantly ask people for help or feel pressure to know how to respond when people ask me what I need," Davis said. "It’s all set up and the meals are delivered when I need them by the people in my life who want to lend a hand.”
Meal Trains has also allowed Davis to eat well together with her family without the stress of figuring out who was going to fix food on the weeks she wasn’t feeling her best. The program even allowed her to spend more time with her kids and husband. Davis’s 14-year-old daughter has well-received the program and is even going to miss it. "She's happy that my treatments are going to end, but that she's really going to miss the great food that we've had delivered," Davis told Medical Daily.
She admits it may be difficult to let go of that sense of control over your family but the support the program provides lets patients know how much they are cared for. “Take care of yourself during treatments," Davis said, "And let others take care of you because you should do just that!”
To learn how you or someone you know can start a Magnolia sponsored meal Train, visit www.mealTrain.com/mmt and enter the code “MagnoliaC.”