What began as a family cookbook to preserve treasured recipes has blossomed into a multicultural collaborative effort. During the summer of 1996, while I was recovering from my first lung surgery and chemotherapy treatments, I needed a project that would keep me occupied and that I could work on from my couch. I decided to write a cookbook. My spunky and beloved grandmother, Nana Rose, had passed away in 1995 and had taken with her many favorite family recipes. I regretted that I had not encouraged her to write them down for us and took on the mission of preserving our treasured family recipes by compiling a family cookbook. As my struggle with cancer grew, and I was faced with consecutive recurrences in my lung and chest wall, my vision of the cookbook also grew. I began to collect delicacies not only from my family, but from friends and colleagues as well.
I also decided that I would sell the book to raise money in support of cancer patients.
In February 1998 it all came together when I met Wendy Sommers. We met in the waiting room at the radiation oncology department where we were both receiving radiation treatment. I had just had my second thoracic surgery and Wendy had recently undergone her umpteenth thoracic surgery. We became fast friends. I was thrilled to finally meet someone who not only had a similar type of cancer (many sarcomas are rare) and a great personality, but who had also started a foundation to support people with sarcoma. After being slowed down by more chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, my determination to produce the book was renewed and I was excited to see my efforts benefit people, who, like me and Wendy, face numerous challenges in the process of battling cancer. Soon after, we met Melony Haines, and our small sarcoma support group grew to three.
On March 23rd, 1999 Wendy passed away after living with cancer for fifteen years. Wendy was and continues to be my role model for persevering, seeking out any and all promising treatment, and living life fully despite the unrelenting nature of this terrible disease. To her I dedicate Sage Cuisine. It is with great grief that I also dedicate this book to Melony, who passed away during its final production. I know Melony would be as thrilled as I am to see this project come to its fruition. As the sole survivor of our threesome, I continue to live with and battle cancer, and, with the help of friends and family, I carry on Wendy’s and Melony’s commitment to provide support and resources for others with sarcoma. I also write this book in memory of my Uncle Monty who died of cancer in 1997. I remember him as a solid and tender family man with a lot of love to share. His brief yet great struggle with cancer was a source of strength and inspiration to all who knew him.
Finally, this cookbook is written in honor of all cancer patients, especially sarcoma patients who are a minority within the cancer community and are greatly lacking in support resources and research funding. My hope is that by creating this book I can give back to the cancer community in some small way. By achieving this personal dream, I hope to give inspiration to cancer patients and to our loved ones who work so closely with us to maximize our healing. Finally, I must offer the following disclaimer. The recipes contained in Sage Cuisine do not profess to provide specific health benefits nor do they support any particular diet. (Many recipes, however, can be enjoyed by vegetarians and those observing a kosher diet.) This book was compiled in the spirit of bringing people together for festive meals and gatherings. It is my firm belief that sharing a wonderful meal with loved ones is as important as any other treatment in the process of healing.
To all, Bon Appetit!