Summer is around the corner and BBQs go hand in hand with summertime. It can be helpful for cancer survivors and those wanting to prevent cancer to brush up on healthy grilling practices. So before you fire up the grill, here are some tips on creating a healthy BBQ.
1. Choose healthy proteins.
Skip the hamburgers, hot dogs and red meats since red and processed meats might increase cancer risk. Instead, choose healthier proteins such as:
These options are lower in fat and can help you maintain a healthy body weight. If you must keep hamburgers and hot dogs on the menu, choose low-fat and preservative-free meats.
2. Be aware of HOW you are cooking meat.
Cooking meats at a high temperature (such as grilling) can possibly lead to HCA and PAH formation. Marinating meat or microwaving for two minutes before grilling can cut down on the formation of carcinogenic compounds. Be sure to also trim any fat and avoid charring or burning meat.
3. Make room for more fruits & veggies.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to add more fruits and veggies to any plate, but did you know that grilling intensifies the flavors, too? You can marinate and grill fruits and veggies whole, slice in long strips or make kebabs with skewers. It is best to cook over medium heat. You can cook veggies like asparagus, onions, mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant directly on the grill grate or in a grill basket. Place fruits on the outer edges of the grill grate for indirect heat cooking. Examples of fruits that are fabulous when grilled include apples, mango, melon, pineapple and peaches. Like veggies, fruits need to be marinated or brushed with olive oil before cooking to keep them from sticking.
4. Have fun!
Barbecuing is a perfect way to socialize, relax and spend quality time with family and friends. Lowering stress levels is key to overall health, so have fun and laugh lots!
5. Don’t hesitate to complement your grilled meal with a delicious summer salad.
My name’s Dustin. December 3, 2016 was the date that I was supposed to get married to KT. It was a Saturday. We had that date set for over a year, but there was no wedding—we canceled it the Tuesday before. KT informed most of our guests with an explanatory text: “So, I have some unfortunate news. We’re going to have to call off the wedding this weekend. Dust got cold feet…and leukemia.”
I was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). This disease was a mutation caused by the mutual translocation of chromosomes 15 and 17, resulting in a fusion gene called PML/RARA—look, I don’t know what that means either. I’m not a doctor. (I recently told an aunt and uncle that the doctors gave me a bone marrow biopsy by drilling into my cervix. It was nice to see them laugh that hard.) What I do know is that it is difficult to know the difference between a tragedy and a blessing when a trauma occurs. KT and I spent 33 days in our initial stay in the hospital. I’m glad we never wasted our time with premarital counseling. Premarital cancer answers all the questions a couple could possibly have.
“Do we both know where our important medical and financial documents are located?”
Through hours on the LLS Community forums, health insurance phone calls, and our hospital's patient portal, we're up to speed. Nothing prepares one for disaster like going through a disaster.
“Should we talk about what we will and won’t do with sex?”
When your body is going to be a vat of odd chemicals for the foreseeable future, almost everything falls into the “won’t do” category, but there’s no way to not talk about it.
“Do you believe that we should do everything together?”
One time in the ICU, KT had to direct my sudden urination into a bucket. Now that we’ve literally done everything together, we both know the value of personal space.
“What are your political beliefs?”
KT and I never talked all that much about political topics like universal healthcare while we were dating. Personally, I just made sure me and mine were taken care of. However, over eight months, KT and I sat through 80 infusions of chemotherapy. For those who don't know, sitting for these infusions means sitting next to people from every walk of life with every type of cancer. None of us are the same, but we're all united because we're all experiencing the worst event of our lives. Spend enough time around people whose bodies are killing them (I've come to think of cancer as genetic injustice), and you start to better understand the government as a tool for helping the downtrodden.
“Can we talk about money?”
We started our time in the hospital not caring about money. I was dying, so all we cared about was me getting better. A couple weeks in, though, once we felt stable, we decided to look at our bills. They weren’t pretty. The six hours at REX hospital alone cost $18,000. By time we finished our initial stay in the hospital, our bill was more than a half-million dollars. Thank God for health insurance – which I now believe everyone should have – and the kindness of others.
Even ten years ago, APL was a devastating disease, but because of the kindness of others to fund cancer research through organizations like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, well, my doctors tell me that I got "the good cancer." KT and I have reevaluated our entire budget, and we've dedicated ourselves to giving back to cancer research. It is a thank you to all those people we didn't know who gave money years ago and helped save my life. We'll most likely never meet, and wouldn't know it if we did, but I can't think of a better way to spend that money, hoping for a better future.
KT and I were married on May 7, 2017. When we sent out our "Save The Date, Again" letters, I wrote this: You pick a wedding date and it gets stuck in your head as this monumental day in your life. My groomsmen's gifts actually have 12-3-16 engraved on them (sorry fellas, but that's not getting corrected). Now that date is different, and we couldn't be happier. 'Come what may' means 'no matter what happens.' And come May 7, the joy of marriage is going to mean so much to us. Getting through a little bit of the worse together means appreciating the better even more.
Dustin will be celebrating 9 months of being cancer free in June, 2018. He released a book on his and KT's one year anniversary, their paper anniversary. To read more about their story go to http://dustinriedesel.com/.
Learn how The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) played a key role in restoring research for all blood cancers as a priority funding area for 2018.
When we think of the federal government’s investments in medical research, we almost always think of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), our nation’s medical research agency. For more than a century, NIH has paved the way for scientific breakthroughs that are helping people live longer, healthier lives.
Federal investments in the NIH have been crucial to helping us understand, prevent and treat cancer. Thanks to more than 2,400 LLS advocates speaking out, Congress allocated nearly $6 billion to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) this year, the principle institute at the NIH for cancer research and training.
NIH has the largest federal footprint for cancer research, but another program at the Department of Defense (DoD) is also doing innovative work to combat cancer. In 1992, Congress established the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) at DoD to fill research gaps by funding high-impact, high-risk and high-gain projects. These investments complement the work of the NIH and focus on initiatives to support Service members, their families and the American public.
Since 2009, the CDMRP’s Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) has been the primary program supporting service-connected blood cancer research at the Department of Defense. The PRCRP strives to advance mission readiness of military members affected by cancer by funding innovative basic, applied and translational cancer research.
Because the PRCRP can fund research in all types of cancer, Congress sets priority research topic areas for the program through the annual federal appropriations process. From 2010-2014, “blood cancers” was a prioritized cancer type within the program, providing grants to advance research in leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Unfortunately, funding devoted to “blood cancers” was removed from the program in 2015, but “lymphoma” was added back to the PRCRP as a priority cancer type in 2016 and 2017.
Recognizing the importance of the PRCRP and its history of supporting innovative blood cancer research, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) took the lead in asking Congress to restore all “blood cancers” as a funding priority for the PRCRP. Congress listened to our request. In fact, we were thrilled to see Congress increase funding for cancer research by $20 million—a 33 percent increase over last year—while also restoring “blood cancers” as a priority cancer type for 2018.
LLS now has the opportunity to work on preserving the “blood cancers” priority area for next year. To join our efforts to support strong federal investments in blood cancer research, become an advocate today by visiting lls.org/be-an-advocate.