After being diagnosed with kidney cancer, Ann Ogden Gaffney didn’t want to be “scared.”
"I had been diagnosed, but I was okay and so I made a pact with myself that until I was told that I wasn't going to be okay, that everything was fine," Ogden Gaffney said.
Ogden Gaffney channeled her positive energy into the kitchen. She says she found comfort in cooking.
"My grandad was a chef, my uncle was a chef, my other uncle owned the Italian store in town, and my dad was a master baker so I've always been around food," Ogden Gaffney said.
Four years after her kidney cancer fight, the Manhattan resident received another diagnosis — this time, breast cancer.
She took a closer look at the impact of diet on her treatment.
Her experience led her to launch "Cook for Your Life."
She teaches cancer patients and caregivers how to make simple, nutritious meals.
The self-taught chef says the dishes are soothing for those in treatment.
"It's not just nausea, but tastes change. Just how what you thought would make you feel good, didn't. And I realized I had the tools to kind of play around with that," Ogden Gaffney said.
The classes aren't just cooking lessons. They’re life-long tips on maintaining a healthy diet.
"Some of our patients come in not really with any cooking or kitchen skills but they're really interested in eating healthy. Ann shows them simple, easy, delicious, and healthy ways of doing this," said Chelsey Wisotsky, Clinical Nutrition Supervisor at Mt. Sinai Downtown-Chelsea Center.
For one patient, the free classes are life changing.
"When you are getting chemo, there is so little you can eat. And the recipes are very simple and they're very easy. And they have a lot of nourishment and they're delicious of course," said Tamila Gurzhiy, a cooking class participant.
Ogden Gaffney says that's what "Cook for Your Life" is all about.
"When somebody comes up to me after class and says "you helped me to eat better" or a loved one they're looking after was able to eat something for the first time in days, those kinds of things make me realize this is worth doing," Ogden Gaffney said.
So, for helping cancer patients heal through healthy meals, Ann Ogden Gaffney is our New Yorker of the Week.