The Margie Petersen Breast Center at Saint John’s Health Center has introduced an innovative, complimentary Nutrition Program as an integral part of breast cancer treatment. The program also is offered to the center’s patients deemed at high-risk.
“Our goal is to provide our patients with advanced body composition analysis and individualized nutritional assessment to help reduce side effects of breast cancer treatment, and to encourage long-term risk reduction and overall wellness,” said Maggie L. DiNome, M.D., acting director of the breast center, one of the John Wayne Cancer Clinics, and director of the Cancer Prevention Program at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
“The importance of diet and nutrition are well-documented, but for most breast cancer patients and those at high-risk, seeing a nutritionist, even if they have insurance, is often unaffordable or inaccessible.”
The nutrition program is part of the center’s Willow Sage Wellness Program, which also provides other services to its patients such as yoga and stress reduction techniques as integral components of overall care. These complimentary services are made possible by The Power of Pink, a fundraising event featuring singer-songwriter P!nk and friends, with all proceeds going directly to the Cancer Prevention Program at the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Saint John’s.
“Healthy eating is an important aspect of quality of life, but it’s really a vital component during breast cancer treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation,” said Svetlana Akoyeva, cancer nutritionist at the breast center. “Well-balanced, nutrient-dense foods and appropriate hydration keep the immune system strong enough to manage the side effects of treatment. Comforting and colorful meals help to reduce fatigue and maintain a healthy weight during this time.”
The nutrition program centers around an immune-boosting diet filled with a variety of plant foods such as whole grains, legumes, vegetable and fruits.
“We work with each client to develop a personalized meal plan that focuses on a predominately plant-based diet, yet also takes into account their food preferences and cultural background,” Akoyeva said. “In addition to keeping the immune system strong, evidence shows that a diet filled with a variety of plant-based proteins, cruciferous vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes has numerous other health benefits such as weight management, longevity, reduced risk of some types of cancers, such as breast cancer, and some chronic diseases such as heart disease and digestive disorders.”