Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

March 22, 2014

Cooking for cancer prevention

TRAVERSE CITY — Linda Melvin came from “meat and potatoes,” she said. Her kids were committed carnivores.

But when Jake, her youngest, found out he had cancer around his 13th birthday, “what’s cooking?” in the kitchen changed configuration.

“My daughter will say, ‘please don’t hide tofu in there,’” Melvin said. “But they’ll order salads at Wendy’s and pick organic over processed foods.”

These little victories are the byproducts of several raw, rough years. A rare cancer called “histiocytic sarcoma” attacked Jake’s 13-year old bones, leaving him with a bread-slice sized tumor in his right hip, and other cancerous sites in his spine and right leg. He was diagnosed in 2012.

Doctors ordered aggressive chemotherapy, and Melvin, a second-grade teacher at Long Lake Elementary School, watched helplessly as toxins dripped into her son with little effect, she said.

“I just thought ‘this is horrible, just sitting here, feeling like I can’t do anything to help him,” Melvin recalled. “What can I do? There has to be something.”

A happenstance ad for Sherry Davis’ “Cooking for Cancer Prevention and Survival” was the something she needed, Melvin said.

“At that point, what did I have to lose?”

Sherry Davis works a day job facilitating group sales for Traverse City Tourism. She is also a certified Food for Life instructor and hosts classes in her Traverse City condo that use a “plant-based” or “plant-strong” philosophy. Courses are tailored to prevent and survive diseases like cancer and diabetes and she also has a “kickstart” class geared for weight loss. It’s vegan cooking, but that term can frighten people off before they begin, Davis said.

“I don’t even use the ‘v’ word anymore,” Davis said. “People hear ‘vegan’ and it scares the heck out of them. Either that or they think it means bland food.”

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