The Role of Nutrition in Paediatric Cancer Treatment with Danielle Cook, MS

Danielle Cook Navidi learned that her 11-year-old son, Fabien Navidi-Kasmai had cancer, and the only nutrition advice she received was, “Let him eat McDonald’s. He needs the calories.”

Navidi, an avid cook with a love of farmers markets and a background in catering, was appalled.

Fabien’s body, his digestive system, his taste buds and even his cravings were being ravaged by his illness, Stage III Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He would go for days without eating. When he did, he had trouble keeping down even his favorite foods.

Navidi didn’t know how to feed him anymore, but she was convinced fast food was not the answer.

So I started with the basics,” says Navidi, a Washington, D.C., resident. “I grabbed a pot, put a chicken in, added some vegetables. There were days when he’d have chicken soup at 10 a.m. because it worked for him. Now that’s what I tell other parents: Start with the chicken.”

That back-to-basics approach is the backbone of her cookbook, “Happily Hungry: Smart Recipes for Kids with Cancer.”

In this presentation, Danielle Cook, MS, will draw from her experience as the Director of an innovative nutrition program for pediatric oncology patients as well as her first-hand experience with her son’s cancer to discuss pediatric cancer in the United States and the need for sound nutritional support during and after treatment. She will also address the unique needs of adolescent and young adult survivors, and how the nutrition program she created bridges patient needs with cancer protocols.

Points to be covered include:
• Statistics of Pediatric Cancers in the United States.
• Physical side effects of cancer treatment on children and how nutrition can help mitigate some of those side effects.
• The psychological impact of treatment and how healing foods can help.
• The impact of malnutrition on cancer treatment.
• The Neutropenic Diet and effective ways to get optimal nutrition during a neutropenic phase, despite dietary limitations.
• Holistically rebuilding the pediatric patient after treatment.
• Counseling on diet and lifestyle choices with the adolescent/young adult cancer survivor.

Although there is no known cause for childhood cancer, in the United States approximately 80% of these children survive 5 years or more. Children are by nature resilient about their diagnosis and have an innate ability to see the task of getting well as the goal, rarely questioning the alternative. This positive outlook contributes to the holistic healing process after the cancer has been stopped by conventional methods.

Danielle Cook, MS, has been teaching cooking classes and presenting cooking demonstrations of seasonal whole foods for more than 12 years.

After her son was diagnosed with cancer at age 11, Danielle launched herself into better understanding which foods might best help him during treatment and then, as a cancer survivor, for life beyond.

Today she runs “Happily Hungry,” a nutrition program for young cancer patients, adolescent cancer survivors, their parents, family and caregivers at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC, in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Division. The program combines hands-on cooking demonstrations with consultation, digestive assessments and follow-up for pediatric patients in treatment and off-treatment.

She also gives regular presentations and cooking demonstrations at Inova Fairfax Children’s Hospital and at the Life with Cancer Center, in Fairfax, Virginia. Her first book, Happily Hungry: Smart Recipes for Kids with Cancer, was released in September 2012. She has appeared on CNN with Sanjay Gupta, France24 News Network and the Today Show. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Clark University in Worcester, MA and completed her Masters of Science in Holistic Nutrition with the Summa cum Laude distinction at Hawthorn University. Danielle lives in Washington, DC.

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