It’s Complicated: Our Relationship with Food

By Renee Pieroth, RD, CSO, LDN and Lauren Clanet, RD, LDN


As Valentine’s Day approaches, how is your relationship with food?


Try mindful eating. When eating slowly, we give our bodies time to recognize when we are full.  Try resting your fork/spoon on your plate between each bite or holding your utensil with your opposite hand.  These simple yet effective tips force us to focus on the meal itself, not the amount of food being consumed.

Busy Schedule

Consider planning and preparing a week’s worth of meals on one day.  By preparing your meals in advance, you save yourself additional time at the end of each workday. There is no need to stop at a fast food restaurant on the way home from work because you know your homemade, nutritious meal is already waiting for you at home.

Skipping Meals

Carry balanced, healthy snacks with you to overcome missing a meal. We tend to overeat later in the day if we skip a meal, which can also slow down our metabolism and lead to weight gain. Consider snacking on mixed nuts, an apple with peanut butter or a granola bar.

Fad Diets

Do what is best for you. Following an [organic/gluten-free/lactose-free/low-fat/insert-other-diet-name-here] is not appropriate for everyone. If you’re considering a change, contact your personal doctor or dietitian to discuss if a diet is necessary and which one may be best for you and your needs.


In general, try thinking about food in terms of nutritional benefits. Food is life, so choose food that soothes your mind, body and soul. Focus on moderation and balance, as opposed to what you “shouldn’t eat.”

Love your body.  Love yourself.  Love your relationship with food.

Personalized Medicine… The future is here for Judy!

We have all heard that personalized medicine is the future of cancer treatment. Fortunately for some, the future is here now! At the National Breast Cancer Coalition Project LEAD conference last summer, a staff member from the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition met Judy Anderson, a stage 4 breast cancer survivor from Florida. Judy’s incredible story of breast cancer diagnosis, recurrence, treatment, and her experience in a clinical trial is told below. We are amazed that the future of breast cancer treatment is here and Judy has experienced it! We wish her a cancer-free future filled with much happiness!


Pictured: Judy at the National Breast Cancer Coalition Project Lead conference in San Diego last July 2015.

While President Obama and Vice President Biden are beginning work on a new initiative in the fight against cancer, a Port St. Lucie woman has just returned from the front lines in the battle to cure cancer with some hopeful newsJudy Perkins Anderson has had Stage 4 breast cancer since August, 2013.  She was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and had a mastectomy.  Since she became metastatic, in the last 2-1/2 years, she has been through numerous treatments including several different hormonal therapies, chemotherapies and targeted therapies.  Last summer, with treatment options running out, she found out about a clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD.  The trial, “Immunotherapy Using Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes for Patients with Metastatic Cancer”, builds on existing immunotherapy that has already shown success with melanoma patients.  This trial expands the patient population to include people with other cancers with solid metastatic tumors.

The theory behind this treatment is that part of our immune system is still trying to fight the cancer.  However, most of our immune system no longer recognizes the cancer as an enemy and is no longer trying to attack it.  Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) are white blood cells (WBCs) that have penetrated the tumor and are trying to fight the cancer.  They are a small minority of the WBCs in our bodies and do not have sufficient numbers to effectively fight the cancer.

In Mrs. Anderson’s case, she had a tumor removed in August, 2015 to potentially develop her treatment.  Her tumor was cut into 24 pieces and the TIL were watched to see if any of them would attack the cancer.  In four of the 24 pieces, activity was seen.  Subsequently, the active TIL from these four tumor pieces were grown up into an army of about 80 billion T-cells focused only on killing her cancer.  This “selective TIL treatment” was ready for Mrs. Anderson just before Christmas in December, 2015.

Prior to receiving her “TIL army” as Mrs. Anderson calls it, she was given high dose chemotherapy that killed all the other WBCs in her system.  This way, when the selective TIL treatment was infused, the only target was the cancer cells.  With time, her bone marrow will regenerate the other WBCs which are an integral part of our normal immunity that fights infections and disease.

Mrs. Anderson returned home on New Year’s Day 2016 and has been recovering from the TIL treatment which can be, in her words, “a grueling affair”.  Amazingly, she reports that more than half a dozen tumors that she could feel in her chest have “melted away”.  She has stopped all pain medications that she had been taking to control the pain from the cancer.  Her doctors at NIH are already very optimistic saying that such a rapid response is unusual.  Mrs. Anderson will get scans in early February that will confirm what she already knows, that she is heading for a remission.  How long it will last, remains to be seen.  But, for other patients that have responded, sometimes the remissions have lasted a long time.  Until there is evidence to the contrary, Mrs. Anderson is resuming life without cancer and beginning once again to plan for the future.

project lead study group.jpg

Pictured: the Olive study group at Project Lead in July 2015. Judy is on the right, standing next to DBCC staff member, Beth Krallis.

What do you think after reading about Judy’s experience? What questions do you have about TIL treatment and cancer fighting of the future? What do you wish you knew earlier or want to know now about clinical trials?

If you would like to find out more about participating in a clinic trial or becoming involved with the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition’s Clinical Trials Mentoring Initiative, please contact Beth. Researchers and the medical community recognize the need for trained advocates and their support role to the clinical trials process. Without participants, research outcomes are limited.

If you want to learn more about the science of breast cancer and Project LEAD, please visit the National Breast Cancer Coalition website.


Progress Is Great But More Is Needed!!!!

We were happy to recently read a press release from the American Cancer Society that tells us the death rate from cancer in the US has declined steadily over the past 2 decades. The cancer death rate for men and women combined fell 23% from its peak in 1991 to 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, translating to more than 1.7 million deaths averted during this time period. Read the details here.

Still, we know a total of 1,685,210 new cancer cases and 595,690 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the US in 2016 and many of them will be due to breast cancer. During the most recent 4 years for which there are data (2009-2012), the rate of new cancer diagnoses decreased by 3.1% per year in men and stayed about the same in women.

We need to do more. Too many people (and especially women) we love are dying of cancer, and specifically breast cancer. If we continue to affect death rates this slowly (23% over 2 decades!) we will keep losing those we love to cancer.

For more information on this subject matter, please check out the National Breast Cancer Coalition‘s plan to know how to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020. Find out more about the deadline, which we support, by clicking here. We are committed. Are you with us?