I'm guessing by now that you know I have had cancer. It was breast cancer in 2005 and nine weeks before my wedding. Talk about great timing! Well, the treatment was brutal. It seemed like a really cruel joke that I never felt sick until they started treating the cancer. And did that treatment make me sick? Oh yes it did!!!
To be really frank, nothing stayed down. That's if I could get anything in in the first place. I had a mouth full of ulcers, the bones in my face ached, everything tasted like I was eating my cutlery, I had chemo constipation, and I had no appetite in the first place. But it was the nausea that was the worst.
With nothing either going in or staying down, I lost weight. A LOT of weight. And quickly. In fact, I was malnourished. Malnourished - it's not a word you often here in Australia, the lucky country. My muscles were wasting and I was quite literally fading away.
This all meant that my health was a lot worse than it might have been. The chemotherapy was beating me and my white cell count up brutally. It was taking longer to recover.
After becoming well again, I discovered that I wasn't the only one struggling to eat because of treatment side-effects. It's REALLY common! In fact, at least 33% of people undergoing cancer treatment have some form of malnutrition. Who knew? Many studies put this figure much higher.
Time to step up to the plate. Life is miserable when you have cancer treatment side-effects and even more miserable when you lose your enjoyment of food. This was something I wanted to change for other people.
What if I could develop some basic foods that would agree with chemo side-effects and allow people to eat again and be properly nourished during their treatment?
I wanted to take all the guesswork away from people about what they could eat when they have a particular side-effect that has stopped them from eating. The food also had to be highly nutritious and made with clean ingredients. With the development of Kee-moh Snacks - it was job done.
But what if I could take everyday recipes and modify them so they would be side-effect friendly too? Whoa! Yep, that needed doing too. Festive Fare eCookbook was released last December so people could at least enjoy a little bit of Christmas food and share a meal with family and friends. Food is also about maintaining connection with your support network.
Cancer taught me a great many things about myself and other people - and in particular, how other people react when their friend has cancer. The amount of inappropriate things that were said to me during my cancer treatment made my blood boil. Again, it was the same story for most people with cancer. The solution was to write a book outlining the view from the cancer patient's side and the friend's side. When each is informed about what the other is experiencing, surely that would help save the relationship? Turns out this hunch was correct.
So there you have it - how I have come to do what I do. But the repertoire is continually growing. I haven't even tackled the issue of survivorship yet. I haven't even started on the other recipe books I have in m head. All I can say is, it is going to be a busy year.
Oh I nearly forgot, I am also a member of a breast cancer dragon boat team and this takes me all over the state, country, and the world. Ah, it turns out there is enough time for everything...