Surviving Cancer, Beautifully


Our guest post today is from the Founders of Surviving Beautifully (read more about their mission at the bottom of this article).


“Beauty” and “cancer” are not words one thinks of together; and in fact so many women are still told it’s enough to survive.  

Even though life seems to stop the moment you hear those words “you have cancer,” there are still family dinners, school functions, vacations, work and a myriad of other of life’s events. You face the world with a set of new and unfamiliar and frightening challenges. But you have to face the world, and yourself. And feeling good about yourself is a huge part of healing.

Actress Helen Mirren made a very powerful statement when she said, “The way we look is part of our human condition. It is tribal and social and personal. I don’t think it’s superficial; it’s quite profound.” This statement is never truer than when appearance is forced to change due to an illness.

surviving beautifully logo




Surviving Beautifully’s founder, Lana Koifman, now a 5-year breast cancer survivor, knows exactly how this feels. How to worry about whether you’ll emerge whole from surgeries. What to do when your hair thins but you don’t want people to know. But most of all how to maintain your sense of self as a beautiful, whole person.

During treatment, Lana wanted answers to her beauty questions. But it took many lonely hours on the internet and in the library to find the information she sought. Simple questions, such as, “Can I use a self-tanner to brighten my complexion during treatment? And there were more complex issues: “What will my breast look like after the expander is fully inflated?” Lana found information by doing her own research. Unfortunately, she learned by trial and error about reconstructive surgery: truly, by trial and error, because when she did not like the result of her nipple reconstruction, she had another surgery to get it to look more realistic. She says: “If I had had up-to-the-minute information, I might have spared myself that additional, painful procedure. And I’m not the only one.”

Since then, Lana has set on a journey to help other women. She counsels dozens of women to

Lana and Victoria

Victoria Tillotson, Ph. D. and Lana Koifman: Founders of Surviving Beautifully

give them the hope that they can emerge from their battle with cancer whole, feeling like themselves, and with a renewed outlook on life!

Surviving Beautifully was born of this struggle; not just against a cancer, but against fear and lack of information. Our website and forthcoming book aims to give solutions to aesthetic issues, and most of all, hope!

There is another important piece to concerns about aesthetic issues arising from cancer treatment. Sometimes choices are made to forgo surgeries out of fear that cancer treatments will leave them horribly scarred; that they will be less than what they were before.

As Lana notes: “The news of Angelina Jolie’s decision to have a preventative double mastectomy was front page news. At the same time, I learned that my childhood friend was losing her battle to Stage 4 bone cancer, which metastasized from an untreated breast cancer that was diagnosed five years ago. It is difficult to believe that in this day and age a diagnosed breast cancer would remain untreated, but it is painfully true. She chose not to have the mastectomy which [doctors told her would likely be life-saving] because of its physical effects. My friend realized she made a wrong choice when she broke her leg last winter and was told that the cancer had spread to her bones. Five years ago, my friend made a choice not to have a mastectomy because ‘she did not want to be deformed and be less of a woman at the age of 45.’ Now she is dying because of that choice.”

It is crucial that women and men know that they DO have options! There are opportunities for reconstruction, scar treatments and a lot of help with body and aesthetic issues. At Surviving Beautifully, we hope that the knowledge of possibilities will lessen fears and allow people to make better choices about health care. We bring you experts in all fields – from plastic surgeons to makeup gurus to dermatologists to radiologists to psychologists – who give up-to-the-moment information to help you make good decisions, have hope, and survive beautifully!

About Surviving Beautifully: Surviving Beautifully was founded by a breast cancer survivor to provide expert answers for women with beauty and body issues during cancer treatment.

Our aim is to give sophsticated, up-to-the-minute, compassionate and empowering advice from medical doctors and other experts.

Our team includes renowned oncologists, radiologists, general and plastic surgeons, oncology nurses, complementary and complementary medicine practitioners, aestheticians, hair stylists, makeup artists, fitness experts, counselors, dermatologists, dentists, nutritionists and celebrity survivors.

We provide advice on skin care, hair care, dental care, breast reconstruction, hair loss (alopecia), eyelash and eyebrow loss, nail issues, makeup application, physical fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

We provide the information you need to survive your way. Every day.

Why You Shouldn’t Be “Vegan” or “Vegetarian” [Ditch the Diet Labels]


We sometimes get asked, are we vegetarian, vegan (or what)? Well, we are neither and Why You Shouldn't go Vegetarian or Vegan: Ditch the Diet Labelsboth and definitely the “what.” Confused? Let us explain: Honestly, we don’t like using labels very much (unless we’re reading the ingredients on a food product label, of course). Our walk and talk is more about focusing on real, whole food, more plant-based food and less about forcing ourselves to fit in a box or be part of a dietary trend. We’re not down with filling our plates with an ideology instead of health-boosting food that nourishes your body, mind and spirit.

And so we would also tell you not to necessarily become “vegan,” vegetarian” or anything else, unless of course you want to: If that is where your beliefs and passion lie and what makes you feel your best, that’s fabulous! Otherwise, we think labels are best left on boxes, and our food is best for enjoying and nourishing our bodies.

If you must label our approach, you could call it flexitarian with a focus on plant-based, whole foods. Flexitarianism is, in theory, a mainly vegetarian diet (or veggie-focused) but does allow for some animal protein. For us the meaning of this approach is broader, and we use it to refer to the practice of becoming aware of your body and its needs at every stage in your life and responding with personally appropriate dietary decisions. We are all unique and have different needs at different times in our lives, especially during cancer treatment. If a little quality animal protein gives you some needed energy during your cancer fight or otherwise, we aren’t going to scold you. In fact, we’ll even commend you for figuring out what your body needs.

We believe, and most other experts agree, that a whole-food, plant-based diet is the way to eat for optimal health. However, you can vary that quite a bit when experimenting with vegan, vegetarian, grain-free, nut-free, raw and every diet in between.

Allow yourself room to explore and alter your diet depending on your unique needs and situation. This is where bio-individuality comes into play. Bio-individuality means that we all have different bodies with unique genetic makeup, blood types, metabolism, genders and ages, so one diet is not going to be perfect for everyone. If we said that everyone should eat a vegan diet all of the time, we’d be wrong! One diet can’t possibly be the answer for every body, every day. Needs change from one person to another, based on age, makeup, location, climate, disease, treatment for disease and other changes throughout your life.

Many foodies and diet experts may tell you that their beloved diet is the right way to eat, that it’s THE answer. And it probably is – for them and for others. But not for everyone. In fact, it may be completely wrong for some. So don’t stress over figuring out the EXACT, perfect diet (there isn’t one), and then put yourself in a neat little box and label yourself (unless, as we said before, you believe passionately in a certain diet and want to give yourself that title). It’s entirely up to you! But if you’re just trying to eat well, and can’t seem to find your diet niche, just try to eat whole foods, get the processed and artificial stuff out, eat more/mostly plants and be flexible. Oh, and have FUN! :)

Why You Should Eat Sea Vegetables


Why You Should Eat Sea Veggies

Sea vegetables are a group of plants that grow in the ocean. You may hear them referred to as seaweed. Sea vegetables have been part of the diet of many native cultures in Asia and the Americas for thousands of years. These awesome veggies contain molecules that slow cancer growth, encourage cancer cell death and protect cells against radiation damage. They also stimulate the immune system, including the powerful natural killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell that is essential in rejecting tumors and virally infected cells.

Seaweed offers a broad range of minerals including all of the 56 essential and trace minerals so important for our health. It also is a good source of folic acid, iodine, magnesium, calcium and some of the B vitamins. Eating too many processed foods or foods grown in mineral-depleted soil can result in a lack of minerals in the body, leading to cravings for salty or sugary foods. Adding sea vegetables to your diet can help balance your energy levels and alleviate cravings.

The main sea vegetables used in the kitchen are nori (laver), kombu (kelp), wakame (alleria), arame, hijiki, agar-agar and dulse. Sea veggies can be used in soups and salads, to make sushi, shaken onto grains and beans in granulated form, and turned into delicious side dishes. Add a piece of kombu to beans or grains when cooking to up the mineral content and aid in digestibility.

If you are interested in learning more about how to simply add sea vegetables to your diet, let us know in the comments below! We may offer a webinar with instruction on making veggie sushi, seaweed salad and more!


Diet, Genetics and Making a Difference

A gift for cancer survivors - Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen

We continue to hear that our book, Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen, makes a wonderful gift for women facing cancer (or even if cancer isn’t on the table). This is something we love to hear, because when we wrote it, our goal was to get this book into the hands of as many women as possible after a cancer diagnosis – because it’s exactly what we wanted when we first heard the words “you have cancer,” but couldn’t find anywhere. We felt like if we had been given this book, we may not have felt so alone, confused and lost. We also realized, as we wrote the book, that it was also fitting for any woman trying to prevent disease and be healthy and happy.

In light of all the buzz about Angelina Jolie’s surgery after discovering she carries the BRCA-1 gene mutation (making her a cancer previvor), it’s important to note that diet and lifestyle does affect genetics – crazy, right? And this is why The Kicking Kitchen’s, Annette Ramke, as a breast and ovarian cancer survivor and carrier of a mutation to the BRCA-1 gene, chooses to eat well and use food as a tool in her cancer-kicking toolbox. No matter what personal decisions are made around preventative surgery and other treatment options, what we put into our bodies either supports or hurts overall health.

In quoting David Katz, MD, the amazing voice behind the foreword for our book: “We can, in fact, nurture nature.” He refers to a study in which 30 men with prostate cancer had major lifestyle and diet intervention – they ate a plant-based, whole food diet, included moderate activity and addressed stress management. Katz says they found “roughly 50 cancer suppressor genes became more active, and nearly 500 cancer promoter genes became less so. This, and other studies like it, go so far as to indicate that the long-standing debate over the relative power of nature versus nurture is something of a boondoggle, for there is no true dichotomy.”

So while many factors contribute to cancer and our health, including genetic makeup, diet can indeed play a role, even if you carry a genetic mutation, such as one on the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes. As we always say, it may help a little, or it may help a lot, but food will make a difference.

The information and recipes in Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen are designed to help the person in cancer treatment, dealing with side effects like nausea, mouth sores, fatigue, healing from surgery, etc., but they also support the the immune system and offer cancer-fighting foods. The recipes are simple, healthy, so yummy, and an enjoyable way to take back a bit of control in your health.

If you are looking for a gift for a loved one, perhaps a gal pal or woman you know who is dealing with Cancer World, we hope you’ll consider Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen. Please help us spread the word and get this book into the hands of those women who need the support, information and recipes, from two gals who have been through it and want more than anything to make a difference for the next person. Cancer sucks, but we don’t need to sit back and just let the doctors do their (important!) jobs – what we do makes a difference. The food we eat, how we live every day, affects our health more than many of us realize.

7 Reasons to Drink Warm Water with Lemon


 7 Reasons to Drink Warm Water with Lemon, The Kicking Kitchen

Not only does adding some freshly squeezed lemon juice to your water add some tasty zing, but it also has some amazing health benefits! Starting your day by drinking 8 to 12 ounces of warm water and freshly squeezed juice from half a lemon will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to start your day. Read on to learn more reasons why this habit is so darn good for you!

  1. Strengthens Your Immune System. Lemons are high in vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is great for fighting colds and other illnesses. Vitamin C shows anti-inflammatory effects, and is used as complementary support for asthma and other respiratory symptoms. It also enhances iron absorption in the body, and iron is important for optimal immune function.
  2. Supports Healing. The high amount of Vitamin C in lemons promotes wound healing. It has high anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s an essential nutrient in the maintenance of healthy bones, connective tissue, and cartilage.
  3. Balances pH Levels. Lemons help to support the body’s natural pH level, which is more alkaline. Even though we consider lemons to be acidic, the body processes them as alkaline (once metabolized). Helping to maintain the body’s slightly alkaline state is important for fending off disease, since a disease state in the body is far more likely to exist when the body is too acidic.
  4. Aids Digestion. Lemon juice encourages the liver to produce bile which is an acid that is required for digestion. Lemons are also help loosen ama (toxins) in the digestive tract. The digestive qualities of lemon juice help to relieve symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn, belching and bloating. The American Cancer Society even recommends drinking warm lemon water to cancer sufferers to help stimulate bowel movements during treatment.
  5. Cleanses and Detoxifies. Lemon juice flushes out unwanted materials and toxins from the body. This is in part because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. Therefore toxins are released at a faster rate which helps keep the urinary tract healthy. The citric acid in lemons also helps maximize enzyme function, which stimulates the liver and aids in detoxification.
  6. Boosts Energy. Lemon naturally energizes the body by hydrating and bringing oxygen to blood cells. It will leave you feeling more revitalized and rejuvenated!
  7. Improves Skin’s Appearance. Lemon water purifies the blood and purges toxins to help keep skin clear and glowing. The high antioxidant content helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes and counters free radical damage from pollution and sun exposure. Lemon also helps preserve collagen and elastin to keep your skin looking youthful.

Do you start your day with water and lemon juice? Have you noticed a difference in how you feel since beginning this healthy habit?



Green Juicing


Join Annette in her kitchen as she shares her favorite, go-to Green Juice with you. 






3 Health-Boosting Plant Oils to Add to Your Kitchen


Three incredible plants oils we love for a healthy, happy lifestyle are Coconut, Hemp, and Olive. 3 Plant Oils for Optimal HealthIf you don’t already include them in your diet, you may not have know what you’re missing….until now! Read on to learn more about these oils and their benefits. We hope you feel inspired to try them out, if you haven’t already.

Coconut Oil. This nutrient-dense oil is obtained from the coconut and is high in saturated fat. But don’t be alarmed! Because of its high lauric acid content, this saturated fat is good for the body and optimal health! Coconut oil has a reputation for being one of the healthiest oils on earth when it is not hydrogenated. Look for virgin coconut oil, which is good for baking, stir frying, and as a dairy replacement for butter. It is solid at room temperature like butter, but will liquefy around 86°F. It doesn’t break down in heat or light and become rancid like many oils.

  • Maintains healthy cholesterol
  • Good for your heart
  • Helps support thyroid
  • Strengthens Immune System
  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Helps stimulate metabolism
  • Can help prevent cancer
  • Helps brain function
  • Benefits your skin
  • Higher smoke point for cooking – can safely cook at high temperatures. Smoke point is 350°F.

Hempseed Oil. This oil has one of the healthiest ratios of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fats. Most experts agree that the best ratio of dietary omega-6 to omega-3 ranges from 2:1 to 4:1. Hempseed oil has a ratio of about 3:1, or maybe slightly less. Unrefined hempseed oil has a nutty taste and a grassy-green color. It works well in a salad dressing or add a tablespoon to your smoothie!

  • Lowers risk of heart attacks
  • Lowers Cholesterol
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Strengthens Immune System
  • May offer protection against colon, breast and prostate cancers.
  • Reduces the amount of side-effects of chemotherapy
  • Anti-aging
  • Counteracts Cardiovascular Disease
  • Fights Psoriasis
  • Helps with Hormonal Balance
  • Rejuvenates hair, skin and nails
  • Good for digestion
  • Low smoke point for cooking of 330°F – don’t cook at high temperatures

Olive Oil. Olive oil is a monounsaturated (MUFA), Omega-9 fatty acid. It’s high concentration of MUFAs, promotes  “good” cholesterol (HDL) while lowering “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Olive oil is also gentle on the digestive system, and the unrefined, good quality stuff is loaded with antioxidants and valuable nutrients.

  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Decreases risk of heart disease
  • Helps in Cancer Prevention
  • Aids in Digestive Health
  • May help prevent gallstones soothe ulcers
  • Supports overall Bone Health
  • Improves Cognitive Function
  • The smoke point for cooking olive oil ranges from about 200 to 438°F, depending on the quality of the oils. The more refined it is, the higher the smoke point. Extra virgin oil, for instance, is best kept for uncooked uses, as it becomes carcinogenic when heated at even low temperatures.











Strawberry Mango Sorbet – for Your Kiddo and You!


[Kendall] As a mom to a 19 month old, I’m finding that I have to be a little tricky when it comes to getting good, whole foods into that little belly of his. He loves food, but there are certain things that he doesn’t want to eat as a toddler – like carrots, zucchini, beans and avocados! – he loved these as a baby. The only veggies I can get him to eat these days without hiding them in something else are peas, squash, sweet potato, and sometimes cherry tomatoes…and that’s about it. Of course, being a huge fanatic of leafy greens, I’m always finding ways to sneak those in. I also want to make sure he gets plenty of healthy fats (so important for adults too!), and of course, proteins.

And I’ve read about how if you start your kiddos on good whole foods, real veggies, etc., they’ll want to eat them. They won’t be picky eaters. While I’m sure that’s true to some extent, I think that when you’re dealing with a toddler who just wants to declare his independence, you may just be SOL (sh*t out of luck) sometimes. I’ve also heard that it often takes eight times of trying a certain food before your child will like it and want to eat it. I’ve found this to be true in some cases, but there are just some foods that he doesn’t like. At least, for now (or just on certain days).

I’m sure this will change in time. I don’t want mealtimes to create any pressure for my little guy or me, so I give him the healthy whole foods he will eat, try some others at different times (the majority of which get spit out and tossed on the floor), and then sneak in the rest.

I also don’t make a separate “special” meal for my kiddo. He eats what my husband and I eat with some modifications, mostly to make it easier for his little hands and fewer teeth. We aren’t a strict vegan or vegetarian household, but do eat a plant-based diet, so he is exposed to some quality animal food. Interestingly, he isn’t much of a meat-eater (but neither am I).

The result of all of this is a mama who has turned into quite the creative toddler food chef! Interestingly, many of these concoctions I’ve come up with are things I enjoy quite a bit myself. It’s also gotten me to make raw veggie juice every day. I used to juice maybe a few times a week. Now, its daily because it’s the easiest way to get some good veggie nutrients into my little guy – he gulps down my juices! I also make smoothies packed full of healthy stuff: avocado, hemp seeds, chia seeds, nuts and nut butters, kale, spinach, carrots, coconut, and a banana or some applesauce to make it more palatable for picky little taste buds. I hide pureed veggies in sauces or scrambled eggs, make chia pudding (he loves it!), and hide good stuff in pureed soups.

My latest concoction turned out to be super yummy, mucho easy to make and of course, Healthy 4 ingredient Strawberry Mango Sorbethealthy-healthy: Strawberry-Mango Sorbet! The little guy loved it! Only four ingredients in the food processor: avocado, strawberries, mango, and hemp seeds. I would say that next time, I would also add a little baby spinach or kale to get some greens in.

Avocado: Considered to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet because they contain in excess of 25 essential nutrients, including vitamin A, B, C, E, & K, copper, iron, phosporus, magnesium, and potassium. Contain fiber, protein, and several beneficial phytochemicals, which may protect against various disease and illness. Anti-aging properties, fight cancer, anti-inflammatory, regulate blood-sugar levels, help maintain a healthy heart and much more!

Hempseed: According to Nutiva, hempseed “is considered by leading researchers and Strawberry Mango Sorbet ingredientsmedical doctors to be one of the most nutritious food sources on the planet. Shelled hempseed ispacked with 33 percent pure digestible protein and is rich in iron and vitamin E as well as omega-3 and GLA.”

Strawberry: Rich in vitamins C, B5, B6, K and have been found to increase anti-cancer agents in the body. Adds some sweetness for Mr. Picky Eater.

Mango: Aids in digestion, helps improve concentration and memory, high in antioxidants, iron, fiber. Also sweet.


1/2 cup frozen mangoes

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1 avocado, peeled, pit removed strawberry mango sorbet in food processor

2 tablespoons hemp seeds

Allow strawberries and mango to soften and thaw a bit by setting out at room temperature for 30 minutes. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Add water, a teaspoon at a time to help ingredients blend, if necessary. Serve sprinkled with hempseeds on top if desired.

Note: Best served immediately to maintain sorbet-like consistency. Can store in freezer and let thaw, then stir a bit before serving. Also, can store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, but be aware that the color will change as the avocado loses its greenness due to exposure to the air. Still tastes great!

Healthy 4 ingredient Strawberry Mango Sorbet


Meet Diane and Try Her Tasty Collard Wraps!

Diane PicOur guest blog post today is by Diane Giuliani, one of our two fabulous health coaches. Diane is a breast cancer sur-THRIVER and offers so much in the world of healthy living and eating, especially when it comes to food and cancer. She knows from personal experience what it’s like to cope with cancer and try to eat well to heal from the disease and feel your best in the middle of chemo and other traditional treatment. Welcome to our team, Diane!


I was bustling around preparing for my son’s 14th birthday when I got the news from the imaging center that my biopsy results were positive. I had breast cancer.

Needless to say that wasn’t the news I wanted to hear or was prepared to hear. In those first few moments of disbelief I was gripped by fear, concern and uncertainty. Little did I know in that moment how significantly my life would transform. I was being called to action.

A few years prior to my diagnosis I had been questioning my life’s purpose. Having had a number of wonderful and satisfying “mini-careers,” as I like to call them, I still hadn’t landed on the career that was going to allow me to serve for the greater good, yet remain personally fulfilled. Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was the news I received on that beautiful June day that would soon seal the deal on my life’s purpose.

Fast forward nearly three years. Today I am a certified health coach and nutrition and wellness educator and I am thrilled to have made the connection with Kendall and Annette here at The Kicking Kitchen. A cancer diagnosis can throw you a curve ball leaving you spinning and uncertain about what to do next. Being naturally inquisitive by nature, it was that cancer curve ball that set me on a path, searching for what I needed to do to empower myself and strengthen my immune system through diet and lifestyle. After countless hours of book reading and internet research, along with trials, errors and successes in the kitchen, I feel blessed with my current state of health and pleased with where I am physically, mentally and spiritually.

I recently taught a class that I titled pH 101 and I thought you might enjoy the kitchen tip I demonstrated. I shared with the group how important it is to strive for a diet that is abundantly rich with alkaline-forming foods, and that some of the best cancer kicking, alkaline foods are the bold and sassy leafy greens. I’m always looking for more ways to include them in my diet and in fact, I challenge myself daily to eat something green and leafy with every meal. One of my favorite lunch time meals uses collard greens as a replacement for a sprouted wrap or tortilla.

Collard Wrap

Start with a leftover you might have in your fridge that has some substance or body to it. It might be a quinoa or potato salad, a veggie, bean and rice chili, or a mock tuna salad made with either tempeh or garbanzo beans. Sometimes I choose to warm the leftovers just to take the chill off.

Next, in a 10-12 inch skillet, bring about ½ inch of water to a simmer. While you wait for your water to heat, take a medium sized collard green and turn it so that you’re looking at the underside of the leaf with the raised part of the center rib. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the center rib a few times so that the rib is almost flush with the leafy part. Save the peelings and put them in the wrap. Once the water has come to a simmer, hold onto the end of the stem and swish it around in the water until it starts to turn a deeper green. Turn it over and repeat on the flip side. This process only takes a few seconds on each side.

Pull out your now soft and supple collard and set aside. Repeat this step with as many collards as you need for your meal. Cut off the very end of the stem so that it’s flush with the bottom of the leaf. Put a few large spoonfuls of your filling at the stem end of the collard. Roll the end over the filling slightly then fold in the sides. Continue rolling and folding until the wrap looks like a sweet little green bed roll. This meal is super transportable and boosts your daily dose of super nutritious greens. As an interesting side note, cooked collards have four times the amount of available calcium than collards in the raw!

Bon Appetite!



Have Yourself A Kicking-Cancer Party

Suzanne pic sm

Our blog post today was written by one of our brand new, amazing Health Coaches, Suzanne Foglio! Welcome, Suzanne!

Suzanne has such a kind, positive energy and loads of experience around cancer-kicking food and finding simple, fun and effective ways to make your food work for you. We are thrilled to have her on our team!

In 1999, Suzanne’s husband was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Feeling desperate and powerless, Suzanne decided to immerse herself in the world of healthy living so she could be a support to her husband and those traveling the cancer path. Find out more about Suzanne and how you can work with her here.



Cancer is not, by any means, fun, but how about making fun of cancer by throwing a Kicking Cancer Party?! No matter where you are in your journey, a cancer diagnosis has certainly knocked you and your loved ones for a loop, and what better way to help take your mind off of it all than by planning a party?

A Kicking Cancer Party celebrates your most meaningful relationships and is part of your journey to reclaim your life with more clarity, conviction and purpose than ever before.

The great news is that parties don’t have to be expensive and a lot of work. Following are 6 tips for a stress free, super healthy and super fun party plan without breaking the bank!

1. Make it a Potluck Party! Remember when you were diagnosed, the most commonly asked question from your friends was “Is there anything I can do?” Now is their chance! Asking them to bring a dish will prevent you from having to do all of the shopping and preparation, and it gives your invitees a chance to show off their culinary skills. Even better, you get to focus on the fun stuff – decorating and finding a fabulous outfit!

2. Decide on the number of guests, the date and time. Is it going to be a brunch, barbeque, dinner party, cocktails or a dessert party? Will it be a casual come as you are or a more glamorous event? How about hosting a white party with all of your guests dressed in white? This is your celebration, get creative and make it as magnificent as you are!

3. Set up your party on, a free service! It’s completely customizable and it cuts down on the number of calls you would ordinarily make to coordinate your party. Each guest can see what the other is bringing so you won’t end up with all side dishes or duplicates. You can indicate gluten-free, vegan, etc. so you have something for everyone. If you prefer, you can enter specific dishes and send delicious recipes to be prepared by your guests from the Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen Cookbook. It’s always nice to have non-food items like fresh flowers, candles or paper goods for friends to bring who don’t like to cook.

4. Three weeks before the date of your celebration, mail or email your invitations with the link to your Perfect Potluck menu. You could write something like: “One of my greatest pleasures in life is spending time with friends and family, and creating special memories. I/We would love for you to join me/us so we could share an evening of laughs, great conversation, delicious food and drinks! Please take a look at and bring your favorite dish and/or drink.”

5. To make it really fun, ask your guests to bring their recipes to share and have prizes for the best tasting dish in each category. The prize could be your favorite book, meditation CD, kitchen utensil, soy candle, bath salts, a bottle of organic olive oil or homemade gift. Think of your favorite healthy lifestyle items that you would like to share with loved ones.

6. You want your party to have a great vibe. Candlelight, fresh flowers, balloons and a great playlist on your IPod are inexpensive ways to set the mood. Don’t forget to have your camera handy so you can capture the beauty and joy of the evening.

Maybe this will start an anticipated tradition!

Author: Suzanne Foglio, Holistic Health Coach and founder of Vibrant Life After Cancer.