By Sharon Wisch-Ray
For years, I have been an avid follower of Holly Berkowitz Clegg. I remember receiving my first in her amazing “Trim and Terrific” cookbook series about 28 years ago and was inspired by her healthy recipes and shortcuts for busy moms. Over the years we have featured Holly’s recipes in the TJP as one of her many cookbooks (at least 14; some are out of print) was released. I am proud to say I own them all and my family has been the beneficiaries of her enthusiasm and creativity.
Shortly before July 4, I reached out to Holly, to see if she had anything new cooking and wanted to share some July 4 recipes with our TJP readers.
I knew that she had been diagnosed with gastric cancer last August, but also I knew she was still working as I was still receiving recipes via email.
I assumed that in typical, Holly, energizer-bunny fashion, she was “beating the hell out of cancer.”
While she was continuing to work, Holly had been undergoing rigorous treatments, eight rounds of chemo at MD Anderson in Houston as well as two HIPEC procedures.
She has chronicled this journey in detail in her blog https://thehealthycookingblog.com/gastric-cancer-journey-md-anderson/.
Holly emailed me on July 3 to share that she had returned to Dallas on hospice. She and her family have started a fight gastric cancer fund. As of July 4, in just 10 short days, the fund had already raised over $75,000.
Holly writes, “I am not sure if you have heard but I have gone into hospice; I am home and surrounded by my family. However, I am still working and spreading my passion for healthy cooking with my recipes!
“I have taken to heart the words Rabbi Andrew Bloom of Ft. Worth, ‘This is the time to keep on living and not start dying.’
“There is one thing very dear to my heart that you can do for me. Our family has created Holly Clegg’s Gastric Cancer Research Fund at MD Anderson in hopes that many others will continue to benefit from the great care I have received and treatment options yet to be discovered.
“When I was first diagnosed, I sat in my doctor’s office and said ‘I can do this. I have a platform where I can raise awareness and hopefully help save lives.’
“I need YOU #TeamHolly to join in the fight against gastric cancer and SUPPORT the Holly Clegg Gastric Cancer Research Fund at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Any amount helps! 100% of all the proceeds will go towards gastric cancer research at MD Anderson to help find a cure one day! Every little bit helps — whether it’s what you would spend on a quick lunch or the most gourmet of dinners, please consider donating! And spread the word as I want this to be a grass roots campaign.
“My mission is to create awareness so please consider posting this graphic on your website and feel free to share on social media outlets.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support in joining me in my fight! I am eternally grateful and keep cooking Trim and Terrific!”
On her blog, Holly shares a number of statistics on gastric cancer.
“According to the American Cancer Society, in the United States, about 27,000 cases of stomach cancer will be diagnosed in 2019. This is compared to more than 268,000 breast cancer cases and over 11,000 will die from this disease. Globally stomach cancer is a much bigger problem with nearly one million cases diagnosed every year. Stomach cancer remains the second cause of death (738,000 deaths annually) of all malignancies worldwide. Stomach cancer mostly affects people over the age of 65, and there is a higher risk for men compared to women. Risk factors can include diet, inherited conditions, infection with Helicobacter pylori (a type of bacteria) and unknown environmental causes.”
To donate to the Holly Clegg Gastric Research Fund, write a check payable to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and reference Holly Clegg Gastric Cancer Research Fund. Mail it to MD Anderson, P.O. Box 4486, Houston, TX 77210-4486. To donate online, visit http://Gifts.mdanderson.org; complete all fields; click: “I’d like to choose where my donation will go”; using drop- down menu, select “Other”; type in: Holly Clegg Gastric Research Fund and enter in credit or debit card info.
I understand from both Holly and her family that she is in good spirits and very committed to spreading the word about gastric cancer in the hope there will be more research and treatment options available. To read more about Holly’s inspirational journey, as well as her tips for cancer patients, visit her blog at https://thehealthycookingblog.com/gastric-cancer-journey-md-anderson/.
By Sharon Wisch-Ray