Summery Citrus Spritzer (no sugar!)



This is a simple, refreshing and energizing beverage that can replace sugary drinks like soda. It’s packed with vitamin C and can help to

Summery Citrus Spritzer

Summery Citrus Spritzer

balance the blood’s pH, because lemons are alkalizing once digested in the body (disease prefers a more acidic environment in the body). The carbonation can help to ease nausea, but if you are dealing from mouth sores, be wary of the citrus!

Makes about 5 eight-ounce servings


5 cups sparkling water

1 small orange

1 small lemon

1 small lime

Mint sprigs

Optional: raw honey


Cut the orange, lemon and lime in half. Squeeze juice from one half of each fruit into a pitcher. Add the sparkling mineral water. Slice the remaining halves of orange, lemon and lime and add to pitcher. Optional: Add 1-3 tablespoons of honey for desired sweetness. Stir. Garnish each glass with a sprig of mint.

Tasty Tip: An easy way to flavor your water and keep it cool is to store sliced citrus in the freezer and add to your water or sparkling mineral water. Then you have flavored ice cubes!

This recipe is from our book Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen. For more recipes like this one, purchase your copy today!


Be Your Own Best Advocate


For some of us, receiving a cancer diagnosis was the first time, aside from routine doctors’ appointments, that we became intimate with the medical establishment. For others, the road to our diagnosis has been paved with weeks, months or sometimes years of not knowing, going from physician to physician, test after test, trying to figure out what is going on with our health and our bodies.

In either case Cancer World is a place in which most of us, as grateful as we are for our doctors and hospitals, spend too much time in waiting rooms, testing areas, chemo chairs, being poked and prodded by medical professionals.

We are cancer patients in their world and it sometimes feels as if a piece of our personal identity, and sometimes our humanity, is taken with that term.

Many of us were brought up to not question authority, or at least not too much. We were taught to smile, be agreeable and compliant and not cause a ruckus.

All of that translates into a cancer patient who shows up for her appointments, takes her medicine and follows doctor’s orders. This means we get the tests and treatments we need and have a better chance of kicking cancer.

It also might mean that we don’t speak up, don’t share our concerns, questions and frustrations as we should with those overseeing our medical care. We may have questions or concerns that are dismissed as unimportant or silly, or we might let ourselves be talked to by physicians and other medical staff in ways that aren’t appropriate – whether rude, condescending, impatient or patronizing. Kendall was once named “pukey girl” by a nurse because her pain medication after surgery was causing her to vomit. Annette had a doctor rudely argue with her that she hadn’t had a very painful procedure performed, twice – when she had – just because he saw it as unsuccessful. No, we’re not kidding!

In this Cancer World, which is so overwhelming and distressing, we learn, sooner or later, that we either speak up and speak back, or we take the hit and wait until we get to a private space and then punch a pillow or cry. We’ve both had instances where, rather than speaking up in the moment, we go home, consider what happened and wish we had stood up for ourselves.

Being our own best advocate becomes necessary if we are to persevere. We need to empower each other and ourselves to ask questions, demand fair and kind treatment and have our wishes and humanness respected. We must strengthen our voices and not be afraid to speak our truth and let doctors, nurses, and technicians know when they are lacking in respect and care.

Sometimes, though, we just don’t have the energy or spirit to do so. In these times it is invaluable to bring an advocate with us to appointments and tests. Someone who will listen, speak and act according to our wishes on our behalf when we need some support. A friend, neighbor or family member can be an advocate for us.

Cancer requires a lot from us. And this also includes strengthening our voice and being empowered around all aspects of our care and treatment.

As Billy Joel always says: “Don’t take any shit from anybody!”

Have you experienced this sort of treatment from a health care provider? How did you handle it?

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.

Adding Acupuncture to Your Integrative Toolbox

Catherine Allen, LicAc, MAOM, MSc

Today we have a guest post from Catherine Allen, acupuncurist and owner of White Peony in Brunswick, Maine (read her bio below). If you haven’t tried acupuncture, it may be a wonderful tool to add to your integrative cancer-kicking and/or health-boosting toolbox! 

Chinese medicine does not treat cancer!  Whenever I talk to patients or groups about acupuncture and cancer, I like to get that out of the way first.  However, acupuncture can be extremely helpful in treating side effects from Western medicine treatments or the cancer itself.

While I am also a practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine, I generally don’t recommend taking herbs in conjunction with chemotherapy.  There is research to support the use of certain herbs to increase the effect of some chemotherapy drugs, but most oncologists are not open to that idea yet–and I don’t recommend going against the advice of your oncologist.

The foundations of health in Chinese medicine are diet, exercise and sleep.  Unfortunately, cancer treatments commonly cause side effects that interfere with your ability to keep those foundations strong.  What can we do with acupuncture?  There is a lot of research to support its use for common side effects experienced by patients undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation, including:

  • nausea–acupuncture is particularly effective here
  • decreased immune system
  • dry mouth
  • pain–either due to the treatment or the cancer itself
  • neuropathy
  • constipation/diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • hair loss–acupuncture can’t prevent the loss, but the first re-growth will be healthier

Getting acupuncture before surgery can promote relaxation, prevent infection, prevent side effects and alleviate symptoms.  The optimal time to get acupuncture is two days before surgery.  Post-surgery benefits include reduced swelling, improved mental alertness, improved intestinal mobility, and promotion of healing.  Two days post-surgery an acupuncture treatment would focus on controlling pain and improving urinary and bowel function.  One week post-surgery we would continue to work on reducing swelling and pain control, as well as treat any symptoms from medications, such as constipation or nausea.

Additionally, acupuncture promotes healthy sleep and is extremely effective at alleviating anxiety, which is understandably common in patients with cancer due to the treatment and the disease itself.  Because no medication is involved and nothing is added to the bloodstream, acupuncture is an extremely safe and effective way to support your body–both the physical and emotional aspects–while still allowing your treatments to work. Click here for more information information on acupuncture and its use in cancer care.

Catherine Allen is a licensed acupuncturist and has a private practice, White Peony, PC, in Brunswick, Maine.  She earned her Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the New England School of Acupuncture in 2007, and her Masters in Pain Research, Education and Policy from Tufts University School of Medicine in 2009.  Catherine’s post-graduate education includes training at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in using acupuncture for patients with cancer.