Teen with a Dream™ is a 501 (c) (3) charity founded specifically to enrich the lives of pediatric cancer patients and the lives of their families by combating the effects of social isolation and loneliness during chemotherapy through specialized social, educational, and financial programs.
Follow our blogs for daily tips, advice, tricks, stories, and information that will help you on your cancer journey!
Is your fridge still packed full of your Thanksgiving Day left overs? Well we have a great way to use the left over turkey with this Turkey Soup Recipe! Earlier this month we talked about eating and drinking warm foods as a way to keep warm during the height of cold and flu season-this is the perfect leftover recipe to use!
Here is what you will need:
Carcass of one turkey (about 1½ pounds) without skin
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups diced skinless turkey meat (white or dark meat)
½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
We hope that you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love, laughter and happiness. Just as one holiday has come to a close, we are now opening the door to another fabulous holiday season!
We wanted to take a few moments and share a little preview of what you can expect to see throughout the month of December on our blog! Through out December we will feature a variety of topics including:
Additional information about cold and flu season
Information regarding immunity
Holidays + Christmas Activities, crafts and programs
We hope to provide you with helpful resources to stay as healthy and happy as possible during the month of December. Are there any topics that you would like to see during the month of December? Let us know! E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello everyone! It’s Spencer Harrison the founder of Teen with a Dream, I hope you all had a great thanksgiving I know I did. When looking for topics for our post on Black Friday we first thought to focus on the normal and talk about the best sales. Then we got to thinking, not only is Black Friday shopping very stressful, but children with cancer can’t really be in crowds.
So while doing research we discovered that tips for surviving Black Friday Sale Shopping is freakishly similar to tips for surviving a day/trip to the hospital for treatment/chemotherapy. So today’s post is all about tips that may be for Black Friday but can really work for surviving a day at the hospital.
With all of the hustle and bustle of this holiday week, we thought a little inspiration could do us well. There is endless stories of the bravery that these patients embody, and every single one deserves a round of applause.
We found the uplifting story of Adalyn, who was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma at just 9 months old. The astounding, Children’s Cancer Research Fund wrote a feature about this brave little one.
Adalyn has known only a life filled with doctors, appointments, and pain but this has not stopped her from showing cancer who is in charge. She continually faced her diagnosis with immense courage, laughter and smiles.
Adalyn has now completed her treatment and is learning a wonderful life without cancer. Adalyn and her family are grateful for the opportunity to begin their lives again with Adalyn’s infectious smile and laughter.
Communication is hard! At least that is what is blasted in our faces online and on television. Maybe in a world is 24/7 TV content, ipads, and video games we do forget to communicate some. In our of spending time with your family this Thursday on thanksgiving here is a some advice we read about on Talk to an Expert Inc. They suggest 101 cards, we think you can make your own and only have enough for each person at the table to select and read aloud. Talk to an Expert Inc has some great questions like “If you won 10 million dollars, what gift would you give to each player?” and “Who would be called the party animal in your family? Tell a funny story about that person at a party.”
However here are some questions we think are great for cancer patients and their families. “What was the best and worst part of this year” “, "What is the most compassionate thing someone has done for you?”, and “If you could describe the perfect hospital what would it be?”.
Make sure everyone at the table reads aloud their questions and then go around and listen to everyones answers.
Everyone knows that Thanksgiving is a stressful time of year. It’s seems to be a holiday that lasts all day long and there is not a whole lot to occupy your time other than cooking or watching football. For many families its a time spent around your extended family. Meaning that there will be a lot of people are around as well- making it possible for heated discussion or argument. Teen with a Dream sat down to think of some tips help you get through Thanksgiving and with only a couple days to go you’ll have plenty of time to practice.
Tip 1: It is a holiday after all, and if your on treatment you may not feel like a celebration, but make sure you celebrate the small things on Thanksgiving, if your blood counts are holding steady celebrate, if you’ve gone 3 days without throwing up…celebrate it!!
Tip 2: Avoid eating food that you want to enjoy in the future. If you love pumpkin pie and eat it at the height of treatment, the chances of you wanting or liking pumpkin pie in the future are pretty low. A sad but very true side effect of chemo.
Tip 3: Enjoy the natural effect of Tryptophan, this is what is naturally found in Turkey that makes you sleepy so eat a lot and rest up- you need your strength.
Tip 4: Play small games, games help keep our minds occupied and also everyone else in the room as well.
Tip 5: Avoid heated debates, they take a lot out of you and can turn a dinner into a battle ground- one of the top suggested topics for this Thanksgiving is the new Hunger Games movie. There are so many of them that there is bound to be something everyone can talk about.
Tip 6: Get a organic or steroid and hormone free turkey. I know organic makes it seem like it is fancy but the truth is, during treatment you don’t need all the other stuff they normally use to make turkeys larger in your body. Natural is the way to go!
Since our blogs launch we have shared numerous recipes and information about the importance ofeating well when you have cancer. We have featured information and recipes aboutprotein+carbohydrates, well today lets take another nutrition component that tends to be overlooked:FATS.
Although it is common to be told to stay away from fats, they are actually an extremely important part of your diet, especially the diet’s of pediatric cancer patients. It is learning which fats are the HEALTHY fats and which are not. Healthy fats provide a source of energy for the body.
Lets take a moment to break down where different fats are found as provided by the American Cancer Society:
Choose these types of fat more often…
Monounsaturated fats are found mainly in vegetable oils such as olive, canola. They are liquid at room temperature.
Polyunsaturated fats are found mainly in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, corn, and flaxseed oils. They are also the main fats found in seafood. They are liquid or soft at room temperature.
Try to limit these types of fat…
Saturated fats (or saturated fatty acids) are mainly found in animal sources, such as meat and poultry, whole or reduced-fat milk, cheese, and butter. Some vegetable oils like coconut, palm kernel oil, and palm oil are saturated. Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature.
Trans-fatty acids are formed when vegetable oils are processed into margarine or shortening. Sources of trans fats include snack foods and baked goods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or vegetable shortening. Trans fats also are found naturally in some animal products, such as dairy products.
Here is a great recipe with healthy fats!
Here is what you will need:
1/3 cuptahini (sesame seed paste)
¼ cupchopped bottled roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained
Hello Everyone, It’s Spencer Harrison the founder of Teen with a Dream. I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving as it is coming up quickly. I hope that you all have a restful day and spend it with loved ones. Having been a cancer patient during Thanksgiving 11 years ago I can honestly say there is no better advice that I can give. I personally feel that because Thanksgiving is on a Thursday that it is destined to be one of the terrible holidays that you will experience during treatment. I had my very long chemotherapy days on Monday and Wednesday and it left me feeling very weak and sick. However when I sat down and started to write this post I found that after 11 years of treatment I do not recall my “chemotherapy Thanksgiving”. I don’t get nauseous thinking of the food I ate during it, which I should because to this day most of what I ate during my treatment still makes me want to gag. This means that there is hope! Hope you one day the memories that you have of important days won’t be filled with pain. It may take longer then 11 years or sooner, what i do know is it won’t happen overnight. I look forward to learning more about tips and advice on how to achieve this so that I can share with all of you. For this Thanksgiving I wanted everyone to know that there is hope.
Happy SPLURGE! Friday Dream Team! As the Thanksgiving holiday is almost here we have found a wonderful series of kid friendly Thanksgiving crafts! The best part? The supplies can most likely be found within the hospital!
One of our favorites is the Mod Mayflower-here is what you will need:
Coffee Stir Sticks
How to assemble:
Cut off the bottom of a cup. Cut two slits with the tip of your scissors at the center edge of the cup. Place the cup, bottom side up, into the center of a cup holder.
Cut 2 paper rectangles per boat to make sails. Cut 2 tiny slits at the center of each sail at the top and bottom. Push stirrersthrough the slits.
Add a paper flag to the top of each mast. Push the sticks into the slits in the cup.
As next Thursday is Thanksgiving, we found a perfect Thursday program resource to feature!
CURE Childhood Cancer serves Thanksgiving dinner to inpatient families. It is their mission to ensure every family staying in the hospital feels special. At last year’s Thanksgiving dinner the families who were now serving the food, were families who had been in the hospital the previous year.
Here is one families story:
“In 2007, Kevin Kennedy’s son, Joe, was a normal 18-year-old young man. His eyes were set on his Freshman year of college and the exciting journey ahead. However, Joe’s plans were derailed when he received the startling news of a diagnosis of aplastic anemia. The following months were difficult; there were two times during Joe’s treatment that the Kennedy family thought they were going to lose their son. But Joe fought hard, winning his battle and receiving his degree from The University of Alabama. Impacted by his son’s fight, Kevin Kennedy joined CURE’s Board of Directors, and this year his family spent their Thanksgiving at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. Together, they picked up a delicious meal donated by Whole Foods Briarcliff and served it to the children and their families who were too sick to go home.”
Beyond coping with a newly diagnosed child, it may seem impossible to begin to communicate with your child, their siblings, cousins or friends about the diagnosis. That is why today we are going to take a moment and share a few things that may ease this process. We have found an amazing resource, Cancer Council, to take us through it.
Why it important to communicate with children about cancer?
It will help guide children through the process, and initiate interaction.
It will provide a safe two way communication process, which will help create a safe environment in case they have questions. It will also help with any misunderstandings that a child may have.
It makes them feel as though they have a say in such a chaotic time, it provides them with a sense of guided control.
Finally, just like it provides a safe place for questions, it also becomes a place where they can express their concerns and feelings which will help so much throughout the process.
Quick Tips of Communication
Reassure the child by answering their questions as honestly and accurate as possible. Although it may seem as though they can’t handle certain things, kids are extremely intelligent and they have a greater understanding of what is going on then we may like to think. They especially tend to pick up on tensions within the home, friendship and so on.
Maintain a routine. By making sure that certain aspects of your daily routine are still going, provides a sense of stability in what is more or less an unstable period in your life.
Encourage feelings. Although it may be difficult at first, this will have a profound effect later on through out this process. It provides children, moreover, encourages children to cope with their feelings.
Be as honest, open and use basic wording to ensure that they understand what is happening
Tell them what they can expect. It is important not to instill fear, but also prepare them what could lie ahead and reassure them that they have a support system during these possibilities
Collaborate with your doctor. This will help with any misinformation being communicated and your doctor may have some other techniques that may be best for you, your child, family and friends.
We are still in the mist of flu season, and as we know being a pediatric cancer patient already takes a profound toll on the immune system. This is why it is so important to stay extra vigilant during flu season.
We have found some common trends when doing research for protecting yourself this flu season, with that here are our tips to stay as healthy and proactive as possible during this flu season:
We discussed in a previous post the significance of a sufficient intake of protein being crucial to a patient’s diet. Well, we have found a delicious way to incorporate healthy proteins into your Thanksgiving day meal! Sweet potatoes provide 2.1 grams of protein per 1 cup, this simple potato is not only nourishing but is also possess a sweet taste, which is great for kids!
We hope you are finding this weekend restful. Here at Teen with a Dream we are in the middle of a polar vortex and it has been snowing on and off and below 20 degrees for the past week. So on this Saturday we encourge everyone to take a snow day even if you are without snow. Stay warm, cozy, and enjoy some hot coco.
Chemotherapy and dealing with cancer is stressful, and it is nice to have a excuse given by nature to take some time for oursevles.
And don’t forget to check back tomorrow for our recipe of the week!
As we had mentioned earlier in the month, the simple ways to keep warm during the winter’s chilly time. On this chilly day [for our Coloradan followers] occupy yourself with a little DIY creativity. We have found a wonderful tutorial for you to create your very own knit hat! This is an awesome way to occupy your time at the hospital and most importantly keep you warm!
We waned to take this Thursday’s Program Resource theme as an opportunity to share with you a signature Teen with a Dream program. Each year Teen with a Dream hand picks themes for the two holiday trees, which provides the many boys and girls undergoing treatment an opportunity to pick out a prize.
For the boy’s tree patients will go back in time and walk with Dinosaurs.. Girls will “Let it Go” and have a Disney inspired “Frozen” tree.
Pediatric cancer patients undergo an average of eight to ten hours of treatment around three to four times a week. Teen with a Dream recognizes how much time cancer steals from their youthful lives. The Giving Tree program is modeled around a core component of their mission and seeks to engage the mind and soul.
This Thanksgiving season we wanted to take some time out to talk about one of Teen with a Dream’s favorite things, books! It is one of our favorite things to put in our Signature Chemo Day Care Bags. Here is a reason why reading aloud to your child creates a soothing and safe environment and allows them to be transported wherever the pages take them. Reading aloud can also be a great distractor when waiting for tests or doctor appointments. Even for older children like teenagers reading to them while they are getting their tests can be a helpful tool. So in honor of thanksgiving we have a few books on thankfulness that would make perfect.
First Shel Silverstein’s classic The Giving Tree a book about a little boy and the kindness of a tree is heart warming and entertaining at the same time makes for great reading or reading aloud.
Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty shows thankfulness when Andy removes a thorn from his paw and wins his friendship and thankfulness for life all because he helped others.
An Awesome Book of Thanks by Dallas Clayton is a Seuess-esque book that will inspire readers to appreciate big and small things.
It is natural to become overwhelmed with the daily obstacles that life presents, especially if your family that is coping with cancer as one of those obstacles. As humans, we tend to forget the little things we are grateful for.
Today, we want to focus on embracing these little things. This “Gratitude Jar” is the perfect and simple opportunity to take note of everything you are grateful for.
Anytime that you have a moment of gratefulness, or just have a thankful thought pop in your head, write them on a little note and put them into the jar. Anytime you are having a hard day, take a moment to look into this jar and ease your emotions. Replacing negative thoughts with loving and positive thoughts will provide greater emotional health and coping skills in the future.
A common piece of advice related to stressful periods in life is to write down your thoughts as a way of coping. Today we would like to encourage you + your child to start a “Chemotherapy Diary”. Just as nutritionist have you write down everything you eat in order to analyze eating patterns, a Chemotherapy Diet provides you with a record of side effect patterns, feelings, obstacles and so on.
This concept introduced by the Cancer Council states:
“It can be useful to record information about your chemotherapy treatment in one place so you recall details about when you experienced side effects, how long they lasted and what helped to reduce them. Some people use a notebook or a diary, while others prefer technology such as a smartphone. You may want to make a note of the date, time, symptoms experienced.
Sharing the information you record with your doctors and nurses will help them give you suggestions for dealing with side effects or adjust your treatment, if appropriate”.
This simple record can keep track of seemingly insignificant events during treatment, that may provide profound insight for the future. Today, start your Chemotherapy Diary! Check out Cancer Council’s full article here
The Thanksgiving holiday seems to sneak up on us every year, today we are featuring a spin on a classic Thanksgiving side dish to spice up your dinner! Yams seem to make their way into our Thanksgiving meal every year-but after so many years we wanted to find a new way to change up the classic yam dish! We have found a delightful Yam with Ginger and Scallions recipe to do just that! As we have mentioned in our previous posts about Ginger, use this dish as a way to combat nausea!
Here is what you will need:
4 large yams (3 1⁄2–4 lbs.), peeled and cut into thick rounds
Kosher salt, to taste6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil