Cooking to cure cancer

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January 17, 2017 12:00 AM

COOKBOOK TO FIGHT CANCER After eight-year-old Naomi Lendvay was diagnosed with cancer, her family found only three per cent of the money for research goes toward pediatric cancers. In response, the family created the cook book, Small But Mighty: Kids Get Cancer Too, as a way to raise awareness and money for child cancer research. The books can be found at various stores around the Border City. SUPPLIED PHOTO

When Jackie Thomas’s niece, Naomi Lendvay, was diagnosed with cancer a year and-a-half ago, the family came upon a frightening statistic.
Thomas said only three per cent of all cancer research funding goes toward pediatric cancer, and a quick look at the Childhood Cancer Canada Foundation’s website confirms the number.
“Nineteen months ago my youngest niece was diagnosed with stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and through this whole process of her being diagnosed, going through chemo and radiation, we’ve done our research; her mom—my sister—is a nurse, our mom is a pharmacist, and my other sister is a nurse, so we have a lot of background knowledge of the medical field,” Thomas said.
“So we’ve done a lot of research on this and we’ve found out that out of all the funds raised for cancer, only three cents of every dollar goes to pediatric cancer, the other 97 cents goes to adult cancer.”
Thomas added the family found the figures ridiculous, and not being the type of people to just sit back, thought right away about how to raise awareness and more funding for children’s cancer research.
Naomi’s mom, Vanessa Lendvay, finally came up with the idea of publishing a cook book and the results immediately blew their expectations out of the water.
The family started first by creating a foundation, Team Naomi Get Well Now, and kicked things off with a golf tournament last June, raising $40,000 that went straight to pediatric cancer research, specifically sarcomas, at the Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute.
“We came up with that name, it was from Naomi herself, because she was getting all these Get Well Soon cards and she didn’t like that; she wanted to get well now, she’d say,” said Thomas, of her eight-year-old niece.
“Then (after the golf tournament) we had a cultural night later on and raised some more money with that, and we weren’t quite satisfied, so we were talking about other ways to raise awareness for pediatric cancer and we came up with the idea for the cook book.”
After sending a mass email to friends and family asking for recipes, responses started flooding in and the book, Small but Mighty: Kids Get Cancer Too, was well on its way to a reality.
Thomas also said the collection of recipes is tried and true, coming in from grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, with easy to find ingredients one can find in any basic grocery store.
The family started with an order of 1,000 books, unsure of they could sell that many, but by the next day were completely sold out.
“We sold out in a day and had an order for 700 more,” Thomas said.
“We got them at the end of November, early December, just in 2016; we had an order for 700 more so we ordered 1,500 and we sold out of those, so we ordered another 1,000 and at least half of those are gone already and those only arrived shortly before Christmas.”
Naomi was diagnosed with cancer on June 25, 2015, and after extensive rounds of radiation and chemo therapies, Thomas said she’s better now and hanging in there.
She added it’s been a very long haul for the little girl, who was just six years-old when doctors found the tumour, but after a CT guided biopsy and some more chemo in November, the family found out the treatment is targeting the right specific cells, though Naomi has more rounds of chemo to go that’ll bring her into the summer.
In total, she has undergone 155 bags of chemo with more to come, 12 blood transfusions—because of which Thomas asks the public to please donate—28 rounds of radiation, two surgeries, with close to 200 needle pokes for all this to happen.
The other part of the family’s mission, aside from fundraising, is bringing awareness to pediatric cancer and the pittance of donations that go toward its research.
“So many people see the pink ribbon and they automatically know it’s for breast cancer, they see moustaches and they know that’s for prostate cancer in November, and so many people don’t realize when they see gold, that it’s for pediatric cancer and September is the month,” Thomas said.
“Our goal is to raise that awareness so when people hear of September and gold, they know that that’s for pediatric cancer.”
Anyone who wants a copy of Small but Mighty: Kids Get Cancer Too can pick one up for $20 at the following locations: Fit Body Boot Camp, 7-11, Sprucewood Pharmacy, Rolling Greens, Lullaby’s, Vivid Hair and Esthetics, Pure and Simple Market and Cafe, and Complexions Skin Therapy.
They can also be purchased through Thomas by emailing jackie.thomas@lpsd.ca or call her at 780-872-1176.

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