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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Helping to Heal: A Resource Guide for Parents

Aug 02, 2017 11:49PM ● By Nancy Sirianni

A diagnosis of cancer or other lifethreatening illness in a child can be devastating for a parent. This new, unexpected and sometimes overwhelming challenge takes parenting to another level altogether. Gone are predictable routines and normalcy. Whole families are thrown into a schedule of doctor’s visits, treatments and hospitalizations. Priorities change, time shifts and life as they know it is transformed for child, parents and siblings alike. And more often than not in this situation, parents’ natural instinct to be in control—to protect their child from danger—is met with frustrating inertia.

Patti Wood, the executive director of Grassroots Environmental Education, wrote Helping to Heal as a practical guidebook to empower these parents with knowledge. Based on extensive research of peer-reviewed science, Helping to Heal focuses on the benefits of a nutrient-dense diet and the avoidance of common toxic environmental exposures—two especially important considerations in healing that parents are best qualified to address.

The information contained in Helping to Heal is available elsewhere, but this book is particularly easy to read and filled with simple suggestions to help parents become active partners in their child’s healing. Wood offers general guidelines and resources for finding and choosing the most nutritious foods and the safest personal care and household products. Keeping in mind that it’s never about what parents did not do, but what they can do, she emphasizes small changes that can truly make a difference.

Research has shown that providing nutritious, nutrient-dense foods during treatment and beyond provides a child with much-needed energy, reduces the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy, and can set a child on the right path to healthier eating for a lifetime. A home environment that’s free of toxic chemicals and other potentially harmful exposures also provides the best possible place for rest and recovery.

Since the introduction of its first edition in 2012, more than 20,000 copies of Helping to Heal have been distributed through hospitals, Ronald McDonald Houses and support groups across the country. The books are made available free of charge to parents through hospital pediatric oncology units, resource centers, social workers’ offices, child-life programs and hospital libraries. Special distributions are made to childhood cancer events and conferences for health professionals. A Spanish-language PDF is also available.

Visit for healthy recipes, regularly updated resources, Patti Wood’s blog and to follow H2H on social media. For a free copy of Helping to Heal, call 516.883.0887.