SEATTLE – A Seattle native caring for her dad while he undergoes cancer treatment is helping chemotherapy patients identify healthy, nutritious foods they can eat while fighting cancer.
Kirsten Rogers heard the worst news of her life in April: her dad had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“The floor fell out from underneath me,” she said. “Any stability I ever had in my life was gone. I had an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. This was not a problem that i could solve. I didn’t know what i was supposed to do.”
Rogers helped her dad the best way she knew how – she cooked. The 30-year-old moved from Seattle to southern California to care for her father and immediately started researching which foods would be best for him during treatment.
“My family is foodies,” Rogers said. “It’s what always brings us together. I choose to fight the sense of helplessness by turning to healthy food.”
After consulting with specialists at the Seattle Cancer care Alliance and pulling information from the American Cancer Society and the Mayo Clinic, Rogers got to work modifying her dad’s favorite recipes into healthier versions. She’s made him gluten-free zucchini muffins, sweet-potato crisps and green smoothies from her garden.
Providing healthy versions of her dad’s favorite foods has helped him keep his appetite up, Rogers said, and she decided to share her recipes in a blog called Chemo Bites.
“It’s been a therapeutic way for me to process and understand what my dad is going through and find other people in similar circumstanced who can share in that,” Rogers said.
While her parents loved the recipes, Rogers’ mom confessed they could be a lot of work in the midst of cancer treatment, and her dad couldn’t always eat an entire meal. She asked Rogers about healthy snack options.
“For some people there’s just not room to eat an entire meal,” Rogers said. “Breaking up the day into five to six smaller snacks is more feasible.”
So, Rogers set out to her local health-food store. Sitting on the floor of snack aisles, she read label after label, searching for items that were low in sugar and did not contain dairy, gluten or preservatives.
Rogers brought boxes of her healthy snack discoveries to her dad, and he couldn’t get enough of them. Now, the family wants other patients going through chemotherapy to enjoy them too; so Rogers is offering Chemo Bites care packages for sale online.
“I decided this idea could benefit a lot more people,” Rogers said. “It’s another alternative to gift giving. People don’t know how to support their loved ones when their sick. This is a gift that really says, ‘Here’s a tangible way to get well.’”
Rogers has sent out sample boxes to cancer survivors for feedback. Already, people are telling her they love the Simple Squares organic snack bars, Barnana chewy bites, Matt’s Munchies fruit snacks and Justin’s almond butter.
“I want to empower others to support their loved one’s journey to wellness. Gifts of healthy snacks and whole foods recipes helped my father; I know they will support others as well.” Chemo Bite boxes assembled by Kirsten Rogers and her dad, David.