Lexie’s Gift – A Tribute to Kids Living with Cancer
Megan Monday (or Thursday!) articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.
Last month, my husband and three of his friends swam 14 miles across Sebago Lake in Maine to raise funds and awareness for a non-profit organization that hosts and caters to families of children with terminal and life-threatening illnesses. The particular fundraiser my husband was part of was raising money to sponsor military families with terminally-ill children for a week at Camp Sunshine. Their initial goal was to raise only $8,000.00 – which would be enough to send 4 families total to Camp Sunshine for a week, as this was something they were not sure of how it would go and they didn’t want to promise an amount that they could not follow-through with. The fundraising response was incredible, as they actually wound up raising around $217,433 – which will allow about 108 families to be sponsored to attend Camp Sunshine – a goal that blew everyone away and will offer such an incredible experience to an incredible group of individuals.
The week my husband did the race, Camp Sunshine was sponsoring children suffering from brain tumors – something that hits close to home for me, as my father passed away two years ago from stage 4 brain cancer (glialblastoma) and it was an experience that will vividly live in my memory forever. I could only imagine what these children and families have went through and will continue to go through as their children “fight the fight”. While I was not able to attend the event that week, my husband was humbled and amazed at the willpower, strength, and inspiration each child exuded. Despite going through their health hardships and all of the ups-and-downs that come along with battling any major illness, he was so impressed with the positive attitude and happiness each child shared. In particular, he met a young lady, Lexie Williams, who is 15 years old and battled a brain tumor when she was a baby. By the time she was 9 years old, she had two brain surgeries and two chemotherapy protocols. While she is still living with cancer, she is not letting that slow her own or stop her from achieving her dreams. In fact, the reason why I am writing this article is to highlight the beautifully impressive 240-page cookbook that she wrote in dedication to kids fighting cancer and how they can eat healthy. The book is dedicated to her friend Kyle who passed away from the same type of brain cancer that Lexie has been battling her entire life. As Lexie states in her dedication, “Kyle loved his cookbooks and he loved to cook. It made him happy and brought him peace.” Lexie also explained to my husband that when she was going through her cancer treatments, she wanted more guidance as to what to eat, and there was not much out there in regards to ideas and cookbooks, especially geared towards to kids. I know first-hand from my dad that when you go through the rounds of chemo, radiation, surgery, and daily medication, your appetite and tastes for many things change, in addition to what your nutritional needs are. Many times, there are cross-reactions with foods (even healthy foods can have a negative impact on some treatments). Cancer is so overwhelming to begin with; trying to implement a healthy diet, no or less eating plan seems like even more of a major hurdle for those individuals going through it.
When my husband came home from the trip and gave me the signed-copy cookbook, I was beyond impressed at the feat this young, ambitious woman accomplished – all while battling brain cancer since she was a baby. It really puts things in perspective for you when you are holding a professionally done cookbook by a 15-year-old who has gone through more in her life already than most people ever will by the time they reach 90 years old. On days when I feel like I had a bunch to do (or still need to do), I think to this remarkable young lady and all that she has succeeded in….and that’s real motivation and inspiration.
From a nutrition standpoint, I really like this cookbook and highly recommend it – for anyone – not just individuals battling cancer, for the layout and content are impressive. One may ask, “Well, I don’t have cancer or know someone who does, so why would this cookbook benefit me?” After carefully reviewing this cookbook, I LOVED how it was designed and the content it had – for healthy eating in general. While some people may feel like they cannot relate to some of the section titles if they do not have cancer, give it a second thought of being able to apply a generalized healthy-eating approach. I like how in the beginning, there is a section that gives a whole run-down of key health points to consider regarding the healthiest approaches to eating and ways to affordably stocking your healthy pantry – something we can all benefit from. The lists are super easy to read, organized, and very do-able. Here are some other thumbs-up components to the book:
- Lexie clearly explains why it’s important to eat the colors of the rainbow
- The importance of avoiding artificial food dyes is highlighted
- There are over 120 recipes spread out and organized in color-coded categories ranging from:
- Breads & Basics
- Eating During Chemotherapy or After Surgery
- Gluten-Free Is For Me
- Healthy Equals Tasty
- Pasta! (Lexie’s Favorite)
- For Our Siblings
- Seasonal Goodies
- Angels’ Answers
- I think one of my favorite parts of the cookbook are the endearing stories of Lexie’s friends who are also battling cancer. Their stories are encouraging and remarkable and I know if my dad were around to read them, he would be moved beyond tears to see how these kids battle like true warriors each day.
I don’t want to give too much away, for I really feel that my description does not do this cookbook justice on so many levels. Rather, I really encourage you to check the cookbook out for yourself and treat your family to a new realm of healthy eating ideas and recipes to try from a fresh perspective. I really love and admire what Lexie has done to encourage not only healthy eating in general, but for those facing one of the most gruesome illnesses there is. I want to thank Lexie for sharing her courage, strength, gift, and aptitude to create this book to benefit others. I know my husband took away so many memories and humbling lessons that week to the point where he said the 14 mile swim was nothing in comparison to what these kids and families demonstrated to him.
Please check out Lexie’s cookbook and more about her mission:
Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Megan on Twitter (@MPowerNutrition) and like her on Facebook: Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC.