St. Rose program cooks up comfort for cancer patients

These patients and their families now will have access to some meal-preparation guidance during Cancer Center Kitchen Therapy, a Midwest Cancer Alliance (MCA) series of free interactive televideo (ITV) events at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center.

The first in the 2014 series is set for noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16 in the basement-level St. Dominic Room at St. Rose. The rest are scheduled for the same time and place on the third Thursday of the month through October.

St. Rose is a member of MCA, the outreach arm of The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

The ITV events are open to the public.

Brooke Groneman, director of outreach for MCA, noted that when we tested the Kitchen Therapy program a few times in the Kansas City area last year, it was a hit with cancer patients. Word began to spread and by the time of the final program in 2013, the event was standing room only.

Thanks to ITV, now cancer patients in areas such as Great Bend can participate too, Groneman added.

Leigh Wagner and Randy Evans, both dietitians in Integrative Medicine at The University of Kansas Medical Center, will demonstrate cooking methods while educating participants about nutrition.

We want to help families plan a strategy to find foods that sound good to the patient, Wagner said. Food is our medicine, and we give it to our bodies three or more times a day.

In addition to taking doctor-prescribed medications, we also want people to get all the nutrients they need, she added. We realize cancer patients face big changes in their appetites and we want to help them cope with those changes.

During the Jan. 16 event, the dietitians plan to prepare healing and warming soups and stews, Wagner noted. There will always be an emphasis on cleansing foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale.

Questions from the audience are encouraged because thats where the real learning begins, Groneman added.

The dietitians noted that participants shouldnt feel intimidated if they dont know much about cooking or if they believe they dont have time to cook.

We are realistic, Wagner said. We want to help them find simple strategies to include whole foods, real foods in their diets. But we know people may want to take baby steps by just adding a vegetable to a dinner they would normally eat. Maybe it will become a habit.

Evans echoed Wagners comments about whole foods and added that in some cases a proper diet can prevent some health concerns.

The hook here is prevention, Evans commented. We want to encourage healthy eating in general. While our focus is on cancer patients, the information we share is helpful to anyone who wants to find simple ways to eat healthy.

Recipes will be supplied at the event but participants are encouraged to bring a pen and paper if they want to make a few notes.

St. Rose is part of Centura Health, which connects individuals and families across western Kansas and Colorado with more than 6,000 physicians, 15 hospitals, seven senior-living communities, physician practices and clinics, and home-care and hospice services.