2012 Taste Events
SPOHNC TASTE EVENTS 2012 CREATE A CULINARY BUZZ ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Kansas City, KS – On April 25, 2012 the University of Kansas Cancer Center’s SPOHNC Chapter Support group held their third Annual Tasting Event. Year number three brought along some additional committee members, along with some new ideas, to make the event even better than the year before.
Many of our past participating restaurants and chefs returned to the event, enthusiastic and on board with delicious offerings for our guests to enjoy. New group participants also brought along new restaurants, and our 200 attendees were treated to a fabulous event, with so many new, delectable dishes, and so much to offer. It was a lovely evening.
The Cancer Center courtyard provided a beautiful backdrop for our guests, and the background music provided by a local DJ enhanced the atmosphere just enough. He even thanked US for letting him be involved!
We invited local community oncology organizations to join us and bring displays and materials to promote awareness of oral, head and neck cancer. We were pleased to welcome the American Cancer Society, Cancer Action, Turning Point and Gilda’s Club. Missy’s Boutique, a good friend of the Cancer Center, brought along wigs and a variety of jewelry and other gift items to display for our guests.
Chris Lominska, a radiation oncologist who works with oral, head and neck cancer patients, was one of our guest speakers this year. His presentation included a great deal of information concerning HPV and head and neck cancer, and was a great vehicle for raising awareness at the event. Susie Cable, survivor and member of the Kansas City SPOHNC Chapter Support group, shared her journey, speaking about her tongue cancer and bringing the reality of her cancer experience to life through words.
The event was truly a grass roots effort as group members rolled up their sleeves to volunteer for set-up, clean-up and everything in between. Talk about dedication? One of our group members had surgery for a recurrence only a week before the event, but still came to volunteer and direct traffic for event parking as he has in the past. Amazing!
Once again, our Tasting Event awarded us a great opportunity to bring awareness to Kansas City, while affording our survivors, patients and their families the chance to show support and celebrate for one another.
Long Island, NY - On April 22, 2012, the combined Long Island, NY Chapters (Syosset, Stony Brook, and New Hyde Park) presented their third annual Tasting Event. It was timed to coincide with Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month. A rousing success, the event brought together survivors, families, friends, and community for a fun, delicious evening, which raised approximately $15,000. About 200 attendees feasted on an abundance of food generously donated by 45 restaurants and bakeries. A variety of pasta dishes were donated including many chicken, beef, and Mediterranean specialties, as well as an array of delicious desserts. This year’s selections were so abundant, that the buffet line just seemed to be never ending! In addition, many Chapter support group members made their own culinary contributions to the event by bringing along some homemade goodies for tasting. Sal’s yummy “survivor soup”, Helene’s ratatouille and a few other delicacies brought something very special to the evening. For the second year in a row, the event was held at the Stuart Thomas Manor, a beautiful catering hall in Farmingdale, LI. Their staff was most helpful and gracious, as always. Musical entertainment was provided by Knomad, a local band invited to the event by survivor and local SPOHNC Chapter Co-Facilitator, Madelyn Walsh. Knomad was a hit, as they donated their time and talent for the evening. Dr. David L. Schwartz, from North Shore LIJ Health Systems, spoke to the audience, giving all the attendees, survivors and their families, food for thought.
The evening was dedicated to the memory of Michael Henderson, a member of the Syosset group, who fought his cancer with determination and a positive outlook and was an inspiration to all. Michael lost his battle with cancer, after a long and very brave journey. Michael’s widow, Nathalie, invited to the event, gave a beautiful and poignant story about Michael, noting how SPOHNC was very supportive to both of them. She also brought along some beautiful potted plants to present to all survivors who attended, in recognition of their own hard work and determination.
Madelyn Harper-Walsh, Syosset group Co-Facilitator did a fine job as emcee of the evening as she welcomed our special guests and attendees. Many members and families collected an amazing number and assortment of donated gifts of goods and services, which were raffled off in a Chinese auction presided over cheerfully and efficiently by Lisa Caracciola, Chapter Administrator at SPOHNC. Members Helene Mangones and the Harper-Walsh family assembled a particularly generous variety of contributed prizes. There was something for everyone – restaurant gift certificates, Mets tickets, cosmetics, jewelry, lamps, and many other beautiful items provided for lots to look at and choose from for raffle participants. There was also a 50/50 cash prize raffle, for those who preferred to carry home less bulky items!
This event not only was a very effective fundraiser for SPOHNC, while promoting awareness, but it was an opportunity for all to share an evening of fun and experiences and to celebrate life. Many thanks to all for a job well done.
Rochester, NY- The James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center was happy to host the Rochester, New York’s SPOHNC Chapter Support groups third annual Tasting Event on April 19, 2012. As guests arrived, they were welcomed by the beautiful sounds of music as one of our members, Vincent S., a former vocal music teacher, played the grand piano.
Dr. Hong Zhang, Assistant Professor in Radiation Oncology, served as Mistress of Ceremonies and gave an inspirational definition of “Being a Survivor.” Her words resonated with many patients and their families. Support group member, Lisa M., said “I liked knowing my doctor was here and called us all survivors: because there were days you didn’t think you could get through it.” Nurses, social workers and speech therapists participated in the event and the participants thoroughly enjoyed visiting with their care team in a relaxed atmosphere – much in contrast to the atmosphere while undergoing treatment.
The event featured delicious cuisine from a dozen local chefs/restaurants, with an emphasis on dishes that were appropriate for those with eating and swallowing difficulties. We were excited to watch the chef from Highlands Living Center, as he showed off his acute culinary skills while flambéing Artichoke French tableside! All agreed that the food was wonderful and we extend our continued appreciation to the chefs and businesses that donated their time and delectable dishes.
Joining us this year were community partners from the American Cancer Society, Hope Lodge/Hospitality House, Gilda’s Club of Rochester and Western New York Wellness, all of whom were on hand to answer questions and provide information to participants about their programs. The evening culminated with a lively raffle of prizes comprised of gift certificates to local restaurants and stores, and also books and gift baskets.
Karen Miltner, a reporter from the Rochester daily newspaper, the “Democrat & Chronicle,” covers the local food/beverage and restaurant industry and interviewed Vincent S. She blogged about the Tasting Event and later followed up with a lengthy front page feature article about his experience, “Cancer Patient Rediscovers Joys of Eating.” The newspaper’s online version of the story also included video and photography captured at our tasting event, as well as at Vincent’s home. We are grateful to Vincent for sharing his story in such a public way and for Ms. Miltner’s sensitive way of relaying it. It certainly helped to promote awareness about SPOHNC and our local chapter!
The overall experience was captured by one of the care partners; Margaret B., who said “Everyone was so nice and accommodating. These events are a nice change from our sometimes difficult moments.” Don L., a survivor said “Had a discussion with a man who is to undergo a laryngectomy soon and he seemed glad to meet a survivor-me!” In our opinion, that is what this event is all about . . . celebrating the journey and connecting with fellow travelers.
Cleveland, OH – “ Celebrate Food & Life!” The Cleveland Chapter of SPOHNC held its first annual Taste Event & Wellness Fair this year – “Celebrate Food & Life!” The event focused on food and wellness as one navigates the cancer process and works through recovery.
The American Cancer Society graciously offered our group the space to hold our event, and the location midway between the east and west sides of Cleveland made the setting ideal. The sun was shining as balloons, flowers and banners decorated the space and the day was all about “health and healing” for patients, families and caregivers.
Our attendance goal for the first year was 75 or so, but with the support of our three major medical centers; University Hospitals, The Cleveland Clinic and Metro Health System, we welcomed more than 130 guests, including many medical professionals from all three hospital systems.
Area chefs, food services and health food stores embraced our event and guests were treated to a fabulous array of delicious foods to enjoy. Chefs and food service personnel engaged with attendees, providing menu and food preparation advice as well as demonstrations. A separate room full of health and wellness professionals from all three Cleveland area medical systems and other area cancer patient support centers provided valuable advice and direction for patients dealing with Oral, Head and Neck Cancer and the effects of the treatments. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of food service and health and wellness professionals to participate in our first event and help those challenged through this cancer…in body, mind and spirit.
Other highlights of the day included three surgeons – one each from the three participating medical systems – offering words of advice and encouragement to patients and families, a fabulous silent auction well supported by local businesses and a strolling violinist who mingled with guests and surely enhanced our festive atmosphere. A wonderful afternoon was had by all those who planned, participated in and attended, and we look forward to continuing the tradition we began with this year’s event.
Our goal for the inaugural “Celebrate Food & Life!” was to help raise awareness of Oral, Head and Neck Cancer and be a measure of support to those patients and families who are journeying through the cancer process. We sincerely hope that our first annual event provided this and through our sharing of stories and experiences that everyone came away with some measure of “hope in healing” within their cancer journey. We look forward to next year, and plans have already begun for another wonderful event.