Chef launches healthy food delivery service for cancer patients

June 18, 2013 5:38:53 PM PDT
Eating healthy is important for all of us, but when you're battling cancer, it can be the difference between life and death. One Houston chef is trying to make it easier for cancer patients to have access to healthy foods.

When 56-year-old Brian Camidge was diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma, he was devastated.

"You don't know what to do or what's gonna happen, what the treatment's gonna be like, he said.

Almost immediately, he started aggressive chemotherapy and steroids.

"I had a lot of difficulties with energy levels, a lot of difficulties with my digestive tract," Camidge said.

"The food that we are making is to help combat those side effects," said Houston-based chef and Hippo Kitchen founder Angela Anderson.

How food interacts with the body, especially a body with cancer, has long been Anderson's passion. This month, she launched a food delivery service called Hippo Kitchen for people with cancer, like Camidge.

"Fruits, vegetables, herbs. And that would be about half of the total makeup of the diet," Anderson said.

While chemo and radiation may help treat rapidly dividing cancer cells, those treatments also cause damage to the lining of the intestines. And the side effects can be brutal.

"With chemotherapy, because it can change your taste buds, because you do have some of the nausea and the vomiting or some of the other side effects, you really want to listen to the body and tailor your diet to those symptoms," said Dr. Celestine Tung, a gynecologic oncologist at Texas Children's Pavilion For Women.

Dr. Tung tells her cancer patients to lay off refined sugars and processed meats and eat more nutrient-packed foods instead.

"Vegetables and fruits all have good qualities to them. So by eating a variety of them, you obtain the health benefits from all of them," Dr. Tung said.

Cancer-fighting foods like kale, sweet potato and herbs are all part of Anderson's recipes, and they're all locally grown.

"Because the foods that are grown around where you are, that have to travel less to get to you, have higher nutrients," she said.

Camidge tried the Hippo Kitchen diet.

"I'm surprised because I'm a meat, potatoes and steak kinda person -- or I used to be -- and I found it was great!" he said.

And now seven months after his diagnosis, he's cancer-free.

"The last checkup I had, my doctor said my immune system was above normal so I'm doing very well," Camidge said. "It made a big difference for me and enabled me to recover I think a lot faster and handle the treatment and the overall disease."

All Hippo Kitchen meals are made for next-day or future delivery and can be purchased from anywhere in the U.S.

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