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Civil War re-enactors entertain and educate breast cancer survivors

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Annual reunion held at Apple Hill Medical Center

Forty six breast cancer survivors enjoyed a low-fat luncheon
Forty-six breast cancer survivors enjoyed a low-fat luncheon that included three kinds of tea, ginger butternut squash soup, sandwiches, pumpkin mousse and other items.

Forty-six women sipped tea and enjoyed a low-fat menu while Karen Benn, dressed in Civil War-era clothing, explained women’s apparel and women’s lifestyle in the 1860s.

Benn wore a hooped skirt, a fitted bodice, a broach necklace, a white blouse with billowing sleeves, fingerless gloves and a lace day cap.

After Benn spoke, Jennifer Owens, also dressed in period clothing, played various songs from the era on her violin. The songs included “Shenandoah” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”

Benn and Owens, Civil War re-enactors, recently entertained members of the breast cancer survivors class at their annual reunion held at the Apple Hill Medical Center.

“The women loved it,” said Jean Gabsewics, oncology dietitian. “Our goal was to have a fun and educational session that reinforced many of the things we taught in our breast cancer survivor classes.

“The fact that this year is the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, gave us the idea for the theme.”

Oncology dietitians Gabsewics and Mary Ann Gano along with Sue Bowman, nurse navigator, planned the event, selected foods for the low-fat menu, which was catered, and served tea.

Women at the breast cancer survivor annual reunion had completed chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.

During classes, instructors focused on reviewing the process for getting better, reducing stress, lifestyle changes and eating healthier.

They discussed the value of plant-based food as part of a healthier diet and how to season foods without oils or unnecessary fats.

Jennifer Owens, foreground right, Karen Ben, background, left
Jennifer Owens plays Civil War-era songs on her violin while dressed in apparel of the period while Karen Benn, another Civil War re-enactor, stands in the background during the breast cancer survivors annual reunion.

“During our reunion, we reinforced the health value of tea, which is rich in antioxidants, by serving it as part of our menu,” said Gano. “Tea was a very popular drink during the Civil War, and our re-enactors discussed that.”

According to WebMD, green tea contains antioxidants that fight cancer and may even prevent cell damage.

Green tea has been shown to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol. A 2013 review of many participants found green tea helped prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure.

Studies on green tea’s impact on cancer have been mixed. But green tea is known to aid healthy cells in all stages. There are some indications green tea may help destroy cancer cells, according to WebMD.

“The ladies liked being catered to,” offered Bowman. “They enjoyed the socialization and learning about the Civil War era. We received a lot of positive feedback.”

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